Are you playing on the right side of God’s economy?
Last month I was invited to share with some church, ministry and business leaders in Malaysia on the topic of Kingdom Entrepreneurship and specifically to answer the question – “Is entrepreneurship for everyone?”
Malaysia is seeing rapid entrepreneurial driven economic growth but even more exciting is that the believers (who only make up about 9% of the population) are taking up their role as the ‘salt and light’ in business to influence this growth from a Biblical perspective. I believe Malaysia will be one of those countries that will see the minority influencing the majority and bringing about a cultural tipping point. As it says in Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book ‘The Tipping Point’ – it only takes 8 to 15 % of a group/community/nation to influence a cultural change, which interestingly is exactly the strategy that Jesus used to change the entire world.
As I was preparing for my talk in Malaysia I decided to look up some definitions of entrepreneurship so that I could base my discussions on a common point of understanding but also present it in a way that would show even non-believers that we (the body of Christ) have the solutions to sustainable economic growth. So I found three definitions in Wikipedia that gave me the platform that I was looking for and I have highlighted the critical statements within each definition. I believe these highlighted statements are very significant for us as the body of Christ to understand our role as Kingdom entrepreneurs and hence fulfil our God given role as agents for business and economic transformation.
Entrepreneur – the definitions
1. Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Say in 1803 gave this definition: An entrepreneur is an economic agent who unites all means of production- land of one, the labour of another and the capital of yet another and thus produces a product. By selling the product in the market he pays rent of land, wages to labour, interest on capital and what remains is his profit. He shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.
2. In 1934, Schumpeter said: Entrepreneurs are innovators who use a process of shattering the status quo of the existing products and services, to set up new products and new services.
3. In 1964, Peter Drucker said: An entrepreneur searches for change, responds to it and exploits opportunities. Innovation is a specific tool of an entrepreneur hence an effective entrepreneur converts a source into a resource.
Two economic systems at play
A key thing that we all need to realise is that God’s first words to mankind in Genesis 1:28 were an economic mandate – Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground”.
Sin entered the world (through an economic door) when the devil deceived mankind into believing that God was withholding a resource (manipulating the supply side of the economic equation) and this led to mankind consuming a resource that God had forbidden, and from this point onwards we see two economic systems at play in the world. One that is ruled and operated according to the ways of the devil and is driven by greed, love of money, self ownership, materialism, manipulation, corruption, etc. The other system is God’s Kingdom economic system which is based on stewardship principles recognising that God is the owner of all (Psalm 24:1 and Matthew 25:14-30), has a foundation of righteousness and justice (Psalm 89:14) and is driven by love principles which value relationships more than transactions (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus makes it very clear that we cannot belong to both these systems – we have to choose as clearly stated by Matthew 6:24.
Shifting resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield
Based on the clear Biblical understanding that there are two economic systems at play one of the key roles of every believer is to shift resources out the lower system (world system) into the higher level system (Kingdom system). The Kingdom system is one with higher productivity and greater yield and the place where God wants very believer to be operating in order for us to become the catalysts for national economic transformation. Isaac is a great example of a person who operated in this higher level system as evidenced by the fact that he prospered in a time of famine (Genesis 26:1-14). There are many other Kingdom entrepreneurs in the Bible such as Abraham, Joseph, Boaz, Lydia, etc. who operated and saw the manifestation of higher productivity and greater yields from doing their business God’s way. When we operate in this high level system we will be able to fulfil our mandate to feed the hungry, care for the widows and orphans and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. The reason we are battling to fulfil this task that we have been given by God is that too many believers continue to operate in the lower level economic system of the world.
Interestingly enough I believe the famously quoted verse in Proverbs 13:22 ‘But the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous’ refers to these two systems. God Almighty, the owner of all will see to it that His wealth and riches are transferred from the world system back into His Kingdom system. But before this can happen there need to be Kingdom structures and channels in place in the natural for this spiritual promise to be manifested. Setting up these structures and channels is one of the key roles of a Kingdom entrepreneur.
By the way, this higher level system is the only way the Government’s objectives of job creation, poverty alleviation and wealth creation will be achieved, and it’s time we packaged this value proposition and took it to Government.
An effective entrepreneur converts a source into a resource
When a source is presented to God it becomes a resource of blessing. Jesus took the bread and fish (source) presented them to God and they were multiplied to become a resource to feed 5 000 and still have 12 baskets of leftovers (John 6:1-15). The widow with the jar of oil (source) presented the little she had to God through Elisha and it was multiplied to become a resource to pay off her debt and keep providing for her and her son. (2 Kings 4:1-7).
So even believers who are not stewarding businesses and are still working in the marketplace as employees are also Kingdom entrepreneurs because the salaries they are being paid are a source that can be presented to God and converted into Kingdom resources.
So I would like to challenge you with a few closing questions which are applicable whether you steward a business, are employed in a job or are even unemployed:
1. Are you actively shifting economic resources (money, time, gifts, abilities, skills) out of an area of lower (world system) and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield (Kingdom system)?
2. Are you part of the process of shattering the status quo in the marketplace by using principles that are from a higher system of economy and business?
3. Are you converting sources into Kingdom resources?
If you are doing these things then you are a Kingdom entrepreneur. If you are not, then maybe you need to humble yourself and prayerfully ask the question: who I am truly serving? (Matthew 6:24)
Malcolm Gladwell says – “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” If it takes only 15% of a population to achieve this, why is South Africa that is reportedly made up of 70% Christians failing to see Christian culture prevail and Kingdom economy established? Could it be because we are (knowingly and/or un-knowingly) playing on the wrong side of God’s economy?