Virtually wherever I teach on “marketplace ministries”, I sometime ask in my presentation “Who wants God to get involved in your business?” The vase majority of those present raise their hands expecting me to help them find effective ways to help them further achieve that “divine connection.” To their surprise I not only don’t “help them,” I actually shock them by telling them what I am about to tell you, my reading friend. God doesn’t want to get involved in your business.
Let’s talk about why He doesn’t. Firstly, it may be your “ministry” but if you’re really serious about God’s involvement, we have to begin on the proper foundation. That means we must recognize that in reality it isn’t “your business”; it’s His gift-opportunity for you which He is letting you steward in order to serve others, and release provision for you while He helps grow you up in the process. As we all know, we actually own nothing but merely steward things on God’s behalf. Unless we are clear on this reality and remain clear, especially if we prosper, our foundation will be insufficient to sustain a working partnership with God’s Spirit. Indeed, this issue of “who controls and gets credit for my success” was addressed by God as He forewarned Israel:
(11 ) “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; (12) otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, (13) and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, (14) then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (17)”Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘my power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’” Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17
The second foundational issue is closely related to the first one. If God were to join “your business,” who do you think would most likely assume the “senior role,” you or Him? Our fallen nature is not to be trusted as we all should know by now. If God “joins us”, we are in the position of extending an invitation to Him, with us sitting in the position of the residents chair. When we do this, God says, “thank you but no thank you.” Obviously it is absurdly presumptuous for us to even extend Him the invitation. It would be like the pot inviting the potter to the art exhibit where it will be on display! God rejects the proud and exalts the humble. Therefore, a “take your shoes off on this holy ground” attitude is the kind of spiritual posture God will honor. The correct question is not, “will you join me”, but rather, “Lord, could you possibly consider letting me join You in Your business, unworthy as I am?” Joshua experienced a similar situation when he foolishly approached the Angel of the Lord and asked him whose side he was on. The Angel answered, “No”. Wrong question junior. Joshua quickly came to his senses and essentially responded with a recalculated attitude adjustment essentially saying, “since your on the Lord’s side, I’m with you!” Fortunately for us, Jesus already extended the invitation for us to join Him in business some 2,000 years ago. Here is His statement:
(28)”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
(29)”Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30)”For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
We take note of this essential truth contained in His kind invitation. It is in Christ’s “yoke” (business) that we, “learn of Him”. Common labor together or partnerships (like marriage) is where the deepest transfer of life takes place. In the common yoke we “apprentice” with God in His vision; passion; perspective; labors; challenges and the fulfillment of His heart. Fellowship is deepest with God when we enter His passion and it begins to become ours.
We now arrive at the second correct question. Exactly what business is God in? From our human vantage, He is in the people-empowering business. Whatever business we think we’re in is now about to shift. Guess what. If we go into the people-empowerment business with Him, that must become the foundation of “our business”, no matter whatever product or service we apparently offer. Christ died to empower people because truly serving people requires a genuine degree of death-to-self on our part. As we become genuine servants to those we interact with in our marketplace ministry the principle of “your good at my expense” will begin to change us and the people within the circle of our spiritual influence.
At last we come to the really personal questions. Do you really believe my statement that, “God pays for what He orders” or is that really just a religious cliché or platitude? If we follow Christ’s example as a master-servant and give up our “rights” to think of and expect our “returns-on-investments first, what might be our fate? Well, for starters we have now actually gone into God’s business if we’re truly willing to enter this practical law of God’s Kingdom: whoever serves leads. If we join Father’s business, it’s clear that He will “empty us” on the way to exalting Himself through us:
(5) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
(6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Simply put, God pays handsomely for what He orders.
As we have said for years, for a Christian in business, God’s people business that is, profit is a fruit of obedience not a goal or way of ultimately keeping score. In Father’s business, the real profit is knowing Him, growing in Him, and working with Him in the people-loving business. Is this naïve or “religious”? Let me ask another question. Who do you know who is building their business ministry like this with God who is complaining? Everyone I know who is on this journey and has paid the initial dues of truly aligning their business with God’s principles of stewardship and strategic and relational building is prospering in every way. So let’s rescind our offer to God to join with us in our business and join His instead. What a deal! He makes us an offer only the foolish would refuse.
By Dennis Peacocke. This article originally appeared in the January/February 2006 edition of Business Reform Magazine.