So, You Don’t Know Where you are Going? That may be Normal! (Some Godly advice for the power of the Pivot in Business As Mission)

We should know where we are going suggests a contemporary perspective on work.  However, the sermon at church today spoke to this as a false narrative in western culture. Naturally I processed it with a mindset of kingdom business startups, attempting to integrate principles of the spiritual and the daily practical business world.

I have believed for many years that there is no specific will of God for most things in life and we do not have to seek the “will of God” like the proverbial needle in the haystack.  In addition, I have been a strong believer in goals, plans and strategy, believing that we should know where we are going in our careers and businesses.

So, perhaps the point is that God does not have a precise plan for us, but He has a way for us, and our plans should be tentative in light of Kingdom values and our rapidly changing world.  Our way can be travelled, not with a road map, but with a compass provided by God; things like Biblical principles, prayer, advice of counselors etc.

As I reflected on some of the successful BAM owners I know, I realized the truth of this.

  • Robert came to China to teach but wound up building a sizable factory because he realized that each day that he needed to ask God to show him the path for that day. This realization ultimately led him to a process for decision-making. It even included small decisions such as how to respond to beggars he met on the street. Sometimes, he got “just in time” direction from God’s Spirit within him.
  • Zeke came to Romania to help the underprivileged and victims of gross injustices. His keen observations and counsel from others convinced him to start a business which provided more long-lasting solutions to poverty. Today, he has 35 employees who otherwise would be hopeless.
  • Ten years ago, James and his wife were introduced to the $150 billion-dollar human trafficking industry after viewing the movie, “Taken”. He subsequently travelled to Asia and began to investigate what was going on. He learned that once a girl has been rescued and integrated into her family or community, a sustainable career path is vital for securing her future.  He eventually left his country and started Outland Denim in Cambodia, which today has provided a skill and employment to more than 100 women.
  • Steve went to Indonesia to plant churches but had an opportunity to pivot. He was an architect by training, loved boats as a hobby, and saw an opportunity to buy a boat-making business and run it for the glory of God.  This was not on any road map for his life, but his spiritual compass indicated it was a fork in the road and the right way for him.
  • Ronald came to Hong Kong to play soccer for a club who had recruited him. He was semi-pro quality and thought he had found God’s will for his life. Yet, he came to realize that God had given him a compass which when used, brought him to start one of the largest kingdom businesses in the world with hundreds of employees.
  • Guy had some sense that he was an entrepreneur, but thought God wanted him to be a minister. While serving as a mission worker in eastern Europe, he dared to start a business and then another and then another.  He soon realized that God had not given him a linear directive in historical ministry, but re-direction into a kingdom business world of a startup entrepreneur providing jobs in the post-Soviet region of the world.
  • Lee started a business in Azerbaijan and partnered with a local attorney, but soon realized that his partner had run off with the company bank account. I thought he would give up thinking he has missed God’s plan. But “no”, he started up again on a shoe-string, and with good counsel and God’s direction (not a plan) he was soon experiencing prosperity.
  • These are not just spiritual principles. Peter Drucker once said “Planning is actually incompatible with an entrepreneurial society and economy. Planning is the kiss of death of entrepreneurship.”
  • George was moving up in corporate America, and even scheduled for a high-level executive role. When a Godly mentor said, “George, God has given you a gift. Why don’t you go to areas of the world that are unreached and impoverished?”  And George did.  When I talked to him this year, he had started ten companies and created jobs for hundreds of employees and innumerable people are following Jesus.

Business As Mission practitioners – Don’t go looking for a linear plan of God for your life or business. Instead, realize that He has given a compass of principles, friends, and coaches to give counsel, plus the power of prayer.  It is OK at any given time to not know where you are going.  That has been normal for some of the world’s greatest of Jesus followers and otherwise.  Hang in there – and seek direction daily – from God, from others, and from your gut!

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures 

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