– Paul Wilson, Jr. (2012)
Albert Einstein was an intellectual phenomenon. Steve Jobs was a creative mastermind. Thomas Edison was a genius as bright as they come (pun intended). However none of these entrepreneurial inventors measures up to the brilliance, inventiveness, resourcefulness, prowess, and many other words I could use to describe our indescribable God.
God is the original and ultimate entrepreneur. In the beginning of Genesis 1, through Jesus (Hebrews 1:2), He created something incredible out of chaos. At the end of Genesis 1, they created man and woman in their divine image and told them to take dominion over the earth, be fruitful, and multiply. In order for us to accomplish these three mandates we have to use the divine characteristics of entrepreneurship, including but not limited to faith, intelligence, creative ability, and resourcefulness, all of which God displayed as He manifested the universe.
The most widely accepted definition of entrepreneurship was coined thirty-seven years ago by Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson. He defined it as “The pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” This definitely describes God’s approach to creation, but with a major exception. He definitely pursued the opportunity to “invent” the earth and mankind, but He wasn’t worried about resources, knowing He controls all of them anyway.
When most people hear the word entrepreneur they automatically think about business and selling stuff. However, you don’t have to be in business to be entrepreneurial. My simple definition for entrepreneurial is the ability to create value for people using attributes given to us by God. So using this definition, everyone should be entrepreneurial, which also describes how we should be operating in the world with the mind of Christ.
Let’s discuss some of the many characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and how they relate to operating effectively with the mind of Christ in the kingdom of God.
Faith – God spoke the world into existence, but He first had to believe that His words had creative power. Hebrews 11:6 says it is impossible to please God without faith. Similarly, it is nearly impossible to be entrepreneurial without strongly believing in yourself and in the ideas that you have. Accomplishing anything significant for God requires the constant application of your faith. God believed in Himself when He created the universe. You must believe in Him to accomplish the assignments He gives you.
Vision – Vision works closely with faith. Vision gives us a clear mental picture of what we need to have faith for. We are instructed by Habakkuk 2:2 to “write the vision and make it plain.” And we know from Proverbs 29:18 that “without a vision the people perish.” We need vision, because it gives us a hopeful expectation of something different or better than what we currently see. Fortunately, God’s vision for your life is even bigger than yours. One of my favorite quotes is by D.L. Moody, who made a significant statement about vision: “We must dream, because we were created in the image of the One who sees things that are not and wills them to be.”
Integrity– God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His character never changes like shifting shadows (James 1:17). It is impossible for Him to lie (Hebrews 6:18) and His word always comes true (Isaiah 55:11). One of the main reasons Jesus got angry in the temple, threw out the businesspeople, and called them thieves is not because they were doing business. It is because they were doing business dishonestly! Always do right. And always do what you say and say what you do. Under-promise and over-deliver. You will not be in business very long if your word cannot be trusted. Always remember, do not let your charisma take you places where your character cannot keep you there, because a good name is worth far more than great riches (Proverbs 22:1).
Purpose – True entrepreneurs are not just out to make a buck. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, i.e. revolutionary ideas, changing lives, new inventions, fresh innovations, etc. God gives life to purpose and purpose to life. He was not random or haphazard in what He did at the genesis of the world. He wanted to do something that had never been done before – design a new being with whom He could demonstrate the immensity of His love. He was so purposeful that He already had a plan in place when Adam messed up the perfect set up (John 3:16). Purpose should proceed all of your planning. For those in business, why are you in business? For those considering making the jump, why do you aspire to be an entrepreneur? Your motivation for business should have everything to do with why God created you.
Intelligence – Entrepreneurs do not always get the best grades in school, but they are usually very bright in that they constantly use their brains think through problems, issues, and opportunities. Unfortunately, some Christians think that their intellect is no longer needed once they commit their lives to Christ. The total opposite is true. When we get saved, we are to stop thinking, but we must commit all of our minds to Christ and allow him to transform how we think and what we think about (Romans 12:2). When we think like he thinks we will be able to tap into an eternal knowledge base that surpasses all human understanding. In Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). So if you need a business idea, ask the One who has all the ideas.
Creativity – This one goes right along with intelligence. To see a simple example of God’s creativity, just take a walk outside and look at how many different types of plants, trees, and flowers He made. Botanists estimate that there are more than 10,000 species of flowering plants. Jesus also sets a great example of using his divine creativity. If you look at all of his miracles, very seldom do you see him performing duplicates. John mused that all the miracles Jesus did could not be contained in all the books in the world (John 21:25). No doubt there was a lot of creative juices flowing during his life. Having the mind of Christ – powered by the Holy Spirit – gives you a competitive advantage over others without him. John 14:26 states that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, so you can best believe he will reveal witty ideas to you that no one has ever thought of (1 Corinthians 2:9). How are you exercising your creative juices?
Talents/Gifts – We know that God is all-powerful and has no lack of ability to get things done. What’s also true is that He gave every person a unique set of talents, abilities, gifts, and skills. He expects you to use – and improve – what you have been given (Matthew 25:23). Entrepreneurial people are excellent at using their talents intelligently and creatively to produce value. Do you know what special talents and abilities you have? How are you using them intelligently and creatively?
Perseverance – Life can be very challenging and so can business. God knows this firsthand. He faithfully endures through His creation’s blatant rebellion, even after He freely gave them His most valuable possession. Jesus had to persevere through a tortuous trial and execution in order to fulfill his purpose. Perseverance involves a great deal of sticktoitness, resourcefulness, and a never-say-quit attitude in the face of seemingly overwhelming obstacles. It takes a persevering mindset to endure what he did and still come out as the champion. Jesus expects us not to just look at his example, but to also follow it as we face trials of many kinds.
Patience – Patience is a close brother of perseverance. Delayed gratification is an invaluable asset. You have to be confident that “your vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3). God is patient with us, because He sees our end from our beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and He knows greater things are in store for us than what we may be currently experiencing (Jeremiah 29:11). Entrepreneurs are intimately acquainted with the principle of Seed, Time, and Harvest. They realize that a proper investment now of their time, talents, and treasures, will yield a profitable return in due season. Patience allows you not make hasty decisions. And while you are waiting for certain things to happen you are still planting more seeds.
Follow-through (vs. procrastination) – God’s plans His work and then works His plans. He does not wait when He’s supposed to be working. He does not delay when He’s supposed to be doing. He is perfect love, so He has no fear to keep Him from moving forward. Entrepreneurially minded people take action more than they take breaks. Even in the times when it seemed like Jesus was delaying, he was very purposeful in his actions. If you already have the vision and the permission from God, what are you waiting for?
Courage – Courage turns your faith in action. Courage is often associated with taking risks. Interestingly, God took a risk creating human beings with the free will to reject Him. God took a risk creating a ransom plan by sending His son Jesus to redeem those who rejected Him. God takes a risk every day by allowing people to call themselves Christ-followers, even though we do not always do what Jesus did and say what he said. God is courageous, so He did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), which we are to use to bring the realities of heaven down to earth.
Solutions-driven – Entrepreneurial people spend the majority of their time solving problems, generating value, and fostering positive change for themselves and others. They do not entertain pity parties. They waste little time complaining about things they either have no power over or are not intending on doing something about. They are all about blessing others through the intelligent and creative application of their time, talents, and treasures. They do not withhold good from people, because they realize it is in their power to do good for them (Proverbs 3:27), which is what the true Gospel of Jesus looks like in action (James 1:27). God sent Jesus as the #1 solution for our problems. How are you using Jesus to solve the world’s problem?
Hopefully it is easy for you to see how Jesus exercised each of these entrepreneurial characteristics while he lived on the earth. Therefore, if we want to be like Christ, we must embrace the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), which was very much entrepreneurial.
In order to bring the kingdom of God from heaven down to earth in a literal sense, we must utilize Holy Spirit-inspired entrepreneurial ideas to do good works, by turning spiritual truths into practical, holistic solutions that bring real, positive, lasting change to people’s lives. That is when the world will really see our lights shine and glorify God in heaven!
Paul Wilson Jr. is the co-founder and President of Kingdom Business University, which trains current and aspiring entrepreneurs to grow profitable and sustainable businesses by teaching innovative business best practices that are built on eternal Biblical principles. He is a social entrepreneurship educator and consultant, providing dynamic leadership and marketing solutions to help grow businesses and organizations that strengthen communities. Paul has been a champion for spiritual empowerment, economic advancement, and community development for over a decade and has consulted or spoken to several organizations including the National Football League (NFL), Fortune 500 Companies, small businesses, trade organizations, and several churches and schools all over the country. Learn more about Paul Wilson, Jr. at http://www.paulwilsonjr.com.