In the business world, I see how entrepreneurs think very differently about being successful. Some entrepreneurs limit their view of success to personal well-being, happiness, and self-gain. They think in terms of power, competition, and winning. Their primary goal is to maximize profit, and their motto is “the end justifies the means.” Others prioritize the interest of the client and the interest of the other stakeholders. Their primary goal is to improve the well-being of everyone involved, and their motto is “adding value to the client, the society, and the world in an economically profitable way by maximizing the well-being of all stakeholders.” These entrepreneurs, when guided in their decisions by God, are what I call faith driven entrepreneurs.
Some say: ‘Since we cannot change the world, why should we do business in this way?” A group of entrepreneurs who are investing in a remote, impoverished area of Europe gave me a good answer and said: “Our approach may be limited in its effectiveness to change the nation but is very effective for the few we reach by our limited efforts. Ask about the impact of our work on those who are changed by it. We are not trying to save the world; that’s God’s task. We are doing this for them.”
Love as ambition and driver
What drives them is not their longing for business success. They are captivated by something larger than themselves, which is Jesus and Jesus’ love for humanity. It is the love of Christ that compels them. This love drives them to excellence, genuine interested in people, and the contribution to their well-being. Living this love of Christ is their ambition and it gives them meaning and fulfilment.
Being is the key
Loving people well is hard. Too often we are disappointed by our own behaviour. Our human nature and the pressure of a competitive business life drives us often in destructive and selfish behaviour, when love is only an instrument to success. To make it real and effective we need to be transformed from the inside out. Being and doing needs to coincide to make us authentic and true. God wants to help us with this. He offers us the presence and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, God in us. He likes to mould us through life and business experiences to become true and authentic loving entrepreneurs to the image and likeness of Christ.
When we start to get transformed on the level of being, people will discover the power in our lives, which is beyond human understanding. Next to the immediate effect of doing good, we hope sincerely that our way of acting will intrigue the spectators. That they will start to ask questions we can answer at the right time and at the right moment, as we are always willing to give an account of our faith.
A good friend, living in a nation full of corruption, sees his business as a testimony and a source of well-being. He tries to distinguish himself from others by being a reliable and trustworthy business owner. But in these COVID-19 months he was running out of cash and was worried about his reputation and testimony as being a trustworthy Christian entrepreneur always paying in time and keeping his promises. He was praying to God for enough cash in his company. He also denied himself a personal income, even though his family was suffering. Every month, a miracle took place to bridge the expenses to the next month. Unexpected governmental subsidies were coming in, new clients paid in advance, and some allowed temporary payment delays because they were impressed by my friend’s behaviour. People saw he genuinely cared for his staff, his suppliers, and the other stakeholders of the company. This sparked many conversations and made him the favourite supplier for new customers as well. In this way his business survived the crisis.
For me, he is a great example of being a faith driven entrepreneur. He conducts his business in an extraordinary and loving way. He works toward his society’s well-being, he gives God the glory, and the stakeholders respond to his actions and faith in a positive way.