Who Owns Your Small Business?

by Brad Harmon on December 10, 2009 in Entrepreneurs

Who Owns Your Small Business? | marketplace christianity

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Being a Christian entrepreneur is not always an easy job to handle.  Sometimes, we are asked by God to do something with “our” small business that we would rather not do.  Have you ever been reminded by God that it isn’t “your” small business, but it’s His?

As Christian entrepreneurs, we are mere stewards with what God has entrusted us.  I’ve needed to be reminded of this over and over again throughout my life.  I’ve found myself treating God as more of a silent partner in my business ventures rather than the owner.

It’s scary to make dramatic changes when we know why we’re doing it and where we’re going.  It can be terrifying when we’re asked to do this when we know neither.

Are You Willing to Leave Your Boats Behind?

I often wonder what Peter and Andrew thought as Jesus approached them on the shore.  They were fishing away enjoying their business, and then drop everything to follow Christ.

The Callings of Saints Peter and Andrew by Caravaggio

Matthew 4:18-20 gives us this account:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.

Wow, what would you do?  We often think that this was the first meeting between Christ and Peter.  It may well have been, but since Christ had been living and preaching around the Sea of Galilee before this, it is probably a safe guess that they had heard of Him and His message before this moment.

Do You Really Trust God to Be in Control?

Even if they had heard Him preach, it took an incredible amount of trust to drop their nets and follow Him.  They didn’t need to discuss it, to arrange their affairs first, or ask any questions.  The Bible simply says they did it “at once.”

Too many Christians today have such a small view of God.  We’ve tried to make Him small enough to fit inside a box that we have created.  The problem is that what we created and put in the box is not God, and it is not worth trusting.

A.W. Tozer puts it this way in The Knowledge of the Holy:

Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms.  We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him.  We want a God we can in some measure control.

A god that needs to be, or can be, controlled is not a god worthy of our worship or trust.  When we fail to trust God and let Him be the master of our business, then we create a false god – an idol no better than one made of wood or stone.

Our failure to trust God is our failure to really know Him at all.  I highly recommend The Knowledge of the Holy if you have never read it.

It’s Hard to Be a Living Sacrifice!

Someone once said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they are constantly crawling off the altar.  This is exactly what Paul urges us to do in Romans 12:1.  I’ve had such an issue with this in my own life that Romans 12:1 is now my life verse.

Peter Running to ChristEven Peter, who had instantly dropped his nets to follow Christ, quickly fell back into his old profession after the crucifixion.  In John 21 we find that a dejected Peter decided, “I’m going out to fish.”  This might have been the first example of when the going gets tough, the tough go fishing.

When all hopes seems lost, the economy too bad, a major client leaves you over being too Christian to cut a backroom deal, or a key employee leaves taking several important clients what do you do?  Do you continue the course God set?  Or do you pick up your nets again and go fishing?

To his credit, Peter jumped out of the boat and ran to Christ when he knew who it was.  You see, God was never surprised how the whole narrative of the Bible played out.  He is in control – even when it appears to us He isn’t.

So Who Really Owns Your Christian Small Business?

Is your business just another business with a Jesus fish slapped on it?  Being a Christian entrepreneur means more than a logo, more than just doing things the “right” way, more than being good, kind, and generous.

It’s first, and foremost, recognizing that whatever you create is really just something God is allowing you to use, and you are the mere steward of it.  Second, that God is not put into a box.  If you can put Him in your box then it isn’t Him.

Finally, understanding that there is only one rule book that applies to all of your life – business and personal.  One set of standards that applies to all, and you do not get to draft them.  Is it time for you to put down the pen, hand over the deed, and just learn to trust Him?

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita December 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Our flesh is always getting in the way of trusting God to be in control. I'm constantly asking Holy Spirit to give me the ability to stand on Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” I wrote an article approximately 5 months ago entitled, Five Principles of Biblical Stewardship For Your Small Business. I apologize for such a long comment, Brad, but you are, once again, right on point. May God continue to use you to teach us how to be Christian Entrepreneurs.

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Vince December 10, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Great article and good reminder that God owns it all and if we are going to be real we need to acknowledge His ownership and seek His direction in our business ventures. I am glad I stumbled upon your blog my brother.

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Brad Harmon December 10, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Never apologize for your comment length. It makes me feel more normal. 😉

Great article. I edited the link a little bit for you. Thanks for sharing it.

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Brad Harmon December 10, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Thanks Vince. I hope you stop back by now that you know we're here.

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Leon de Rijke December 11, 2009 at 6:17 am

Interesting point of view here Brad. I tend to think that Peter (and others) held their small businesses or the ownership of them during the time they traveled with Jesus. Why? For two reasons:

1. Peter goes back to fishing after he walked 3.5 years with Jesus. I don't know much about fishing gear but I'm pretty sure that you can't fish with nets and boats who have been left untouched for over 3 years. His business has been continued, with or without his direct involvement.

2. On several occasions Jesus gets in a boat to teach or travel. They must have known the owner or be the owner in order to use it, right? On one occasion Scripture states that it's the boat of Simon Peter which Jesus uses (Luke 5:3). Because they used the boats for longer periods I really think that they were owned by one of the disciples, for instance Peter or Andrew.

So in my opinion the disciples left their nets but didn't leave their businesses. I truly don't think it was Peter's living sacrifice that was crawling off the altar when he went fishing.

What do you think?

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Brad Harmon December 11, 2009 at 9:43 am

Leon,

Honestly, there is no way to know for sure, but we could make a guess based off a couple hints. First, the boat (or perhaps boats) owned by Peter suggests a thriving business and not just a one man show trying to feed his family. Second, this was probably a family business with assets built up because men tended to follow in the footsteps of their father's business, and both Peter and Andrew were fishermen.

I don't recall Peter or Andrew's children being mentioned in the Bible, or any other siblings; however, it is likely that if the business continued they would be the ones who carried it on. It very well could have (and probably did) continued throughout the lives of Peter and Andrew.

Who actually owned the business after they joined Jesus, and whether Peter and Andrew actively participated in the management of it, would just be speculation. You could be right, but what is clear is that it was no longer 1st place when Christ bid them to come.

I disagree with you about why Peter went back to fishing. He had just denied Christ a few days earlier, and like the rest of the disciples, he was convinced Christ was dead and the ministry was over. I don't think the disciples really understood the Kingdom of Heaven until after Christ's resurrection. I think they thought hope was lost, and started to go back to their old lives.

They were completely surprised when Christ appeared to them. They weren't waiting around for His resurrection. They had already returned to Galilee. He was even hanging out with Thomas – pretty certain he wasn't telling them all to keep hope alive.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about Peter. I do, however, think we have to be willing to throw it all away for His sake, trust fully in Him, and keep crawling back on the altar when we pull ourselves off out of fear or doubt. For me, Peter is a great example of this.

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Leon de Rijke December 11, 2009 at 11:01 am

It's indeed very hard to know exactly what happened. It would be interesting to do some deep digging research in these texts to see if we can paint a more complete picture.

With the risk of going off-topic I'd like to reply 🙂

You state that Peter was convinced that Christ was dead and the ministry was over when he went back fishing. Here's how I read the development of this story:
– In John 20 we find Peter seeing the empty grave but he didn't understand that He would have been resurrected (John 20:9).
– But that same day, in the evening, while the disciples were gathered (only Thomas wasn't there), Jesus appeared to them and they were glad that they saw Him (John 20:19-20).
– A week later they were gathered again (including Thomas now) and Jesus appeared to them again (John 20:26).
– After that 7 of the disciples are at the Sea of Tiberias. There Peter says that he goes fishing and the others go with him (John 21:3). Here Jesus appears to them after they didn't catch anything during the night (John 21:4).
– For a total of 40 days Jesus appears to the disciples, teaching them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

A few thoughts:
1. Peter had seen Jesus resurrected before he went fishing, two times (John 21:14).
2. Jesus had already promised the disciples the coming of the Counselor, the Holy Spirit (John 15:26-16:33). They probably didn't know what to do, but wait for the Holy Spirit. Here I really like Matthew Henry's commentary on John 21: the disciples went fishing in order to redeem time, to not be idle, and to work for income. Henry says that this is why Jesus asks them if they have anything to eat (John 21:5). They went fishing until they received further instructions on the waiting for the Holy Spirit (stay in Jerusalem… Acts 1:4).
3. Jesus encouraged the fishing. He said what to do in order to catch fish (John 21:6).

I apologize for referencing to Scripture so much, but it will hopefully help you to understand my thinking. I hope this adds value.

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MikeHolmes December 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

Rita,

I also just read your article…great stuff! Timely, relevant, and best of all, Biblical.

Be blessed!

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MikeHolmes December 11, 2009 at 11:41 am

Leon,

I love the idea that Peter still had his business going. Although, its speculation…its a great thought. I do think Peter, from what we know of him, was a great businessman and salesperson. He always took leaps of faith–calculated leaps of faith: “Lord, if that's You, tell me to come.”

I really wish I could have known for sure.

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MikeHolmes December 11, 2009 at 11:46 am

Great post Brad!

I think another thing that stops people (or Christians) from being entrepreneurs is mindset. They can't somehow put God and business together. Its a huge stigma from many. My purpose, on my blog and in life, is to show that God not only cares about business but that He has strategies to succeed in it. Most of them are in His Word. The others are found in His Presence.

I love business and I love God…and I don't see WHY I have to divorce the two:) I believe in business and leadership development by the Book!

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Brad Harmon December 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm

What? Why would you apologize for that?

You are indeed correct. My chronology is off here, and it's what I get for trying to respond before heading out the door to a meeting. You are absolutely correct that Christ appeared to the disciples before this, but I wonder what they must have really thought. After all, the only other resurrected person they had seen was Lazarus and he certainly did not appear through walls.

It's interesting that on the beach, Christ asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Was this redemption for the three denials earlier? I tend to think so. Peter must certainly have been wondering about His position as a disciple after his acts of denial.

For me, John 21 is not about filling idle time. It is about Peter being lovingly restored (if only in his own mind) back to his place before the denials. I hate to disagree with Matthew Henry, but when Christ sent the disciples out by twos he told them not to worry about food or housing, I don't see any reason why that should have changed.

Anyway, like I said earlier, it is hard to know for certain. My comments about Peter thinking Christ was dead were wrong though. Thanks for catching that. I'll try not to respond off the cuff like that again, but knowing me I will so please keep me honest. 🙂

P.S. I think the Sea of Galilee (Sea of Tiberius) is over 60 miles away from Jerusalem, so I am not sure it qualifies as staying in Jerusalem.

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Brad Harmon December 11, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Try as I might to convince myself I am more like Paul, my actions are so much like Peter. I agree that he was definitely not afraid to leap, but I'm not so sure they were always so calculated. 😉

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Brad Harmon December 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Absolutely, it's frustrating that with such a wealth of knowledge available in the Bible about business that the church has done such a poor job equipping us for it. There is not one set of rules for your life and another for your business life; however, I think many Christians live this way.

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Leon de Rijke December 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Well, as you might recall from an earlier comment I don't want to be a “walking Bible-verse-squirt”, that's why I apologized 😉

P.S. I didn't try to say that being at the Sea of Galilee is staying in Jerusalem. I tried to say that the disciples stayed fishing until they received further instructions. The instruction was to stay in Jerusalem, so they fished until they went to Jerusalem.

Anyway, thanks for this nice little discussion 🙂 It's good to be in this blog community!

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Brad Harmon December 11, 2009 at 3:17 pm

LOL … Are you still trying to make that catch on? It still makes me laugh by the way. You brought up some great points to ponder. I'm glad you're part of our community. You always have interesting insights.

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