BUSINESS, MARKET PLACE GATE
Some time ago the Lord gave me a vision of what a “Kingdom business” looks like. In a nutshell, He told me to imagine what it would be like to operate a business in heaven. I saw that it would be EASY! No stress, no striving, and we would find tremendous JOY in what we do. It would be FRUITFUL. Everything that we put our hand to would be BLESSED. We would be PRODUCTIVE and have access to limitless CREATIVITY. The very WISDOM of God would guide our every step. There would be no lack – only ABUNDANCE. We would not fear our competitors but HELP EACH OTHER achieve more than we could on our own. And, of course, HONESTY and INTEGRITY would be a given.
I believe that is what the Lord wants to do in the marketplace in Saskatchewan. “On earth as it is in heaven.” So as Christian business people, how do we get from here to there? Obviously, prayer is the key – ask God to move in businesses across this province so that His divine purposes can be accomplished through them. But what other steps can we take today, on an individual level, to make our businesses noticeably different? Here is one thing that the Lord has had me ponder:
Networking: Over the years, this seems to have become one of the mainstays of “doing business”. Typically (as you know), one takes a handful of business cards along with the hope of exchanging them for a different handful of business cards – belonging to others that we feel will benefit OUR business in some way. I have seen this taken to the extreme where once the person realizes that your business can be of no benefit to their business, they abruptly dismiss you and move on to the next person. One can become offended if one is not careful!
Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not judging these people. But can you see the spirit behind this kind of behavior? Its name is “What’s In It For Me?” I run into this spirit quite often at business-related meetings. So how can we ensure that we are not operating in “What’s In It For Me?”
Personally, I have always avoided networking functions like the plague – until I started seeing them through God’s eyes. These events and groups are an excellent opportunity to show others the love of Christ and to “be different”. Kingdom networking is about leaving our personal agendas behind – God is our provider anyway! The only “leads” we need are from Him. Let’s take a real interest in others there and in what they do; let’s listen for ways that we can help them / bless them / encourage them; and let’s make it about everyone else and not about US!
Matt. 5:15 urges us to not hide our lamp under a basket. Instead, we are to put it on a lampstand so that it gives light to all those around us who so desperately need Jesus in this dark hour! Perhaps part of our “light” is to promote integrity and ethics in business (i.e. godly principles). Not only do we need to speak them out but we need to live them. People are always watching to see if we operate the way we say we operate. We need to be personally raising the standard of doing business in this province.So if you are not involved in any secular business associations such as your local Chamber of Commerce where you can reach out to others, I would strongly encourage you to do so.
But, at the same time, we must not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another…” (Heb. 10:25 NKJ). As Christian business people, we need to “assemble” together to pray for our businesses, the marketplace in our communities, and in the province as a whole.
I believe that as “kings”, we have a special authority to speak out whatever God shows us as we wait on Him and see it come to pass. Do you not long to see Saskatchewan transformed? Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a business prayer group in every community, perhaps meeting weekly over a noon hour, so that there was a constant cry going up from the land? Surely then the very presence of God would come to rest in our marketplaces and in US! Let us all inquire of the Lord to find out what He would have us do in our own spheres of influence to further His Kingdom on the earth and to see Saskatchewan move into the fullness of her great destiny!
I tremble somewhat as I write this article. I feel keenly the need the Apostle Paul felt to convey not just eloquent words but words filled with a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. To know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. To that end I wish to be as brief and honest as possible. During this year of global economic chaos it has been extremely difficult to be in business. The tendrils of this financial crisis have even got their hooks into “Fortress Saskatchewan” and we are all feeling the pinch. We have spoken to many business owners who, barely a year ago were bragging of record profits, and now are reporting a 30-40% drop in Sales/Revenue. For our own business, to suddenly be stuck with a lot of hard to move inventory, speculative houses in our case, has led to a very “lean year” indeed with acute cash shortages marking every weary month. The market seems paralyzed by fear with many customers sitting on their cash and delaying buying decisions until “next year, maybe.
This year has been a time of deep questioning between us and the Lord as to whether we really are in His will or not. We thought we heard His voice when we began our venture but ever since then we have had seemingly endless setbacks and struggles from which there has been little relief. It has often seemed as if even the Lord himself has been fighting against us. We cry out with the Psalmist “Lord, why do you no longer go out with our armies?” In the midst of our struggles of faith, finances, and future we have gone through such a range of emotions. Anger, frustration, sadness, fear, and panic combined with feelings of betrayal or abandonment come with each withering financial forecast, bad weather or customer complaint. Some days internal staff issues make one feel as if there is no peace even in our own camp. We feel unappreciated, misunderstood, and maligned.
But… But God… But God has been faithful! This year has truly been a time when we have felt the refiner’s fire and had to rely on Him for our daily bread. His word promises that he will “keep us alive during times of famine,” even to have abundance. I can’t recall whether or not he has been early in supplying our needs but I can say that he has never been late; at least, not late as He defines it in His perfect timing. Through it all God has forced us to cling to him like helpless children and to learn, again, that His way and His timing are perfect. It really hasn’t been about whether we are in His will or not so much as it has been about trusting Him where we are at and redefining what is important. This year has forced us to go back to the promises he spoke over our business at the beginning and to cry out for his ability to bring us into the “land” or future we believe he promised.
Isn’t it amazing how obedient we are to God when we are in trouble? There have definitely been many areas where God has challenged us to “be holy as he is holy.” He has put his finger on so many areas of sin in our lives, including the fear, worry and mistrust I mentioned before. He has shown us those things for what they really are, self-centered sin. Selfishness, impatience, distrust, and self pity have been the focus of his searching eyes as have been areas of honesty, integrity, and purity. Yes, God does disciplines those he loves through hard times. This is how we know we are His children. So we feel that God’s reasons for this hard time have been twofold, part shaping and part discipline. Jesus went into the wilderness not because he was being punished but because he was FULL OF the Holy Spirit. The Father is both shaping us and disciplining us at once. The encouraging thing to remember is that Jesus, after being tested, then came out of the wilderness IN THE POWER OF the Holy Spirit, and so will we.
Ultimately what he has done with us this year is to bring us back to our first love, which is not our business but Jesus himself. In church we used to sing the words to an old hymn “Jesus only, Jesus ever, Jesus all in all we sing.” He has made us realize that we are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all the other things, finances, staff issues, community involvement etc, will take care of themselves. To get up each day knowing the Master himself has called us to be fishers of men just puts it all into perspective. We, God’s people, are the modern day Ark of the Covenant! He has filled us with His Glorious Presence by His Spirit, His Gospel, and His new agreement to redeem mankind. Oh that we would be filled again with the joy of our salvation and a new zeal to tell others before it is too late. We have been put in our unique places of influence for a purpose; to “Proclaim the Year of God’s favour.” Once we have that in our minds through prayer, His word, and his body we are able then to face all the issues that a day or a year in business will throw at us because we know we can reach people through our dealings that might never be reached otherwise.
So as God has brought us through times of deepening of our trust, of discipline, of stretching our faith we realize that this “desert time” has been used to strip away everything but our relationship with Him and to empower us anew for His service. We consider it all loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him. Now we are back to the basics and we can begin again to see God move us into our destinies as business people. We have not been put here to hoard wealth or to build our own empires but to build his kingdom. As in Psalm 40 the goal is that “many would see and fear, and put their trust in God.”
I finish this letter with hope. I do believe that God will bring us soon into a time of deeper blessing and success in our businesses, but it will be for the purpose of influencing people for Christ. This will only happen as we walk in intimacy with Him. It says in 1 John 2: 3-6 “3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” Solomon prayed to God that He would give him neither scarcity, so that he would steal, nor too much abundance so that he would forget God. Remember that within one or two generations of entering the Promised Land the Israelites had almost completely walked away from God. . I think that the days of us getting away with that kind of behaviour are over. Remember, Jesus is our promised land.
We have been blessed with our “kingly anointing” for a reason and that is to be faithful witnesses of the Gospel and of the Cross. The Gifts, Calling, and temporal blessings of the Holy Spirit are not toys; they are tools to be used in His service. I believe the time is short and that God wants to do great things through Christian businesses. Let us all resolve to walk by the spirit in every area of our personal and business lives and thus experience the ultimate blessing of sweet fellowship with His spirit and fruit that will last to eternity in the form of souls saved and His kingdom built. That’s all that matters. Amen.
by Glen & Roger Blager