Raising Entrepreneurs: Part 1
- 2010 27 Aug
Throughout life, our children will meet many opportunities—in education, in relationships, and in business. God recognizes growth by giving us greater opportunities, as Jesus taught in the Parable of the Ten Pounds. "And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come . . . Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well [done], thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities" (Luke 19:13, 16-17).
Knowing these principles of growth and stewardship, it has been important to me that my son learn how to be successful as a Christian businessman, and I have partnered with other homeschooling parents to teach entrepreneurship to our children. I currently enjoy serving as an executive in one of the 100 largest corporations in the country; however, it is through starting small businesses that God has given me real insight into the fundamental factors required of any business to be successful. Most importantly, in small business we have the opportunity to clearly and freely exercise obedience to God's revealed will for our lives as stewards of all that He has given us.
Our initial effort was to take a year to study the "Seven Disciplines of Biblical Business Success." In this class, we studied seven disciplines of business: strategy, innovation, marketing, serving customers, operations, finance, and leadership. In each area, we also studied a biblical quality required for success: humility, creativity, honesty, servanthood, excellence, stewardship, strength, and compassion. Along the way, we formed teams, and each team developed a business plan for an entrepreneurial idea, applying the lessons as they wrote. At the end of the class, each team presented their business plans.
Immediately following completion of the class, my son Kevin and I took our business plan for an Online Social Network for Christian Homeschooling Families and began to lay the foundation for executing the plan. This past fall, we recruited two other homeschool students to participate as interns, and we launched the initial version of Hschooler.net. Brian is responsible for product development, Austin manages marketing, and Kevin manages revenue generation.
The business is beginning to grow. Although it is not yet profitable in monetary terms, the reward of our sons learning how to run a business—and more importantly, how to apply their Christian faith in real-life actions and decisions—is immeasurable.
Over the next several issues of Home School Enrichment, I hope to share with you the lessons we've been learning and how you may teach your children to become godly entrepreneurs.
For starters, we need to understand the concepts of work, business, and success.
Many Christians wrongly view work as a curse of the Fall, but in reality, work is a blessing. It was enjoyed by Adam and Eve in Eden. "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:15, 18).
We will enjoy work for all eternity: "And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them . . . and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isaiah 65:21-22).
Although it is true that work has become a burden due to the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19), God calls each of us to a vocation (1 Corinthians 1:1). Gene Edward Veith, Jr., in God At Work, makes the point that "Though human beings tend to be oblivious to the spiritual significance of the ordinary things they do, and though their work is tainted by sin, the Christian, walking by faith and resting in Christ, can live and work as a channel for the gifts of God. The whole purpose of every vocation is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Wikipedia defines a business this way: "In economics, a business . . . is a legally recognized organizational entity existing within an economically free country designed to provide goods and/or services to consumers." Or, to apply the principle of vocation, a business is an organized entity that is a channel for the gifts of God, including skills, talents, and resources, to be applied in meeting the needs of the people He has created in His image.
Does God desire for us to have success in business? I believe He does. Jesus often used stories of successful businessmen as positive parables to teach about God's kingdom and our relationship with God. For example, the Parable of the Faithful Servant in Luke 12, the Parable of the Shrewd Manager in Luke 16, the Parable of the Ten Pounds in Luke 19, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20, and the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.
Joshua 1:8 is not specifically about business, but it speaks of God's desire for us to succeed in what He calls us to d "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
In Proverbs 3, Solomon teaches his son to look to God's commandments, strength, and discipline and not lean on his own understanding: "So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:4).
As these passages imply, success is measured differently by the world than it is by godly measures. Business success is measured by the world in terms of revenue growth, market share, and profits.
Biblical business success, on the other hand, starts with trusting in God and being obedient to His commands.
In Roadmap to Success, Steve Marr writes, "God wants you to succeed. He has a plan for your life, a plan for good and not for evil. He desires that you will seek His will, understand His timing, pursue your passion, establish a clear and unwavering mission, and stay strong in His strength to accomplish all that He has ordained for your life."
Dennis Peacocke, in Doing Business God's Way, observes, "The way God runs His Creation qualifies Him as the most prominent and productive businessman of all. When Christian business professionals see this reality and begin to operate their businesses the way God does His, then it will radically change them, what we call Christianity, and the entire world in the process."
In How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, Rick Boxx asks, "God has a plan for your business. God's plan is a plan designed to prosper you without sacrificing integrity. Wouldn't it be much easier to work with God towards the goals that He has in mind, rather than to work against God?"
And Myron Rush writes in Management: A Biblical Approach, "If the Christian enterprise is to accomplish the tasks for which God has raised it up, its leadership must apply the principles of management outlined in God's Word instead of those promoted and practiced by the secular world. That means we must direct our attention to God's Word for answers concerning how His work is to be managed."
As these men observe and Proverbs 3:4 states, it is not wrong to seek success in the sight of both God and man. In my own business endeavors, and as I teach my son about business success, my first priority must be faithfulness to God, but within that faithfulness is great liberty to seek market success, creating value for my customers and wealth within my business. Proverbs 13:22a says, "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children." I pray the inheritance I leave will be one of faith, wisdom, and wealth.
*This article published August 27, 2010.
Russ McGuire is an executive for a Fortune 100 company and the founder or co-founder of three technology start-ups. His latest entrepreneurial venture is Hschooler.net (http://hschooler.net), a social network for Christian families (especially homeschoolers) which is being built and run by three homeschooled students under Russ's direction.
This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug 2010 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Sign up now to receive a FREE sample copy! Just click here: http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/request-sample-issue.html