Sample Chapters: Risk, Reward and Values

Share on

1

Why Kingdom Entrepreneurs?

Key points

• The reward for the kingdom entrepreneur is to extend the kingdom of God.
• Redemption is the thread that runs through our enterprises.

We seem to be in an age when anyone who has a bright business idea and attempts to take it to market is called an entrepreneur. There is an increasing number of individuals who want to develop their ideas, USPs or patents. Reports from Companies House (in the UK), as analysed by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE), show that business formations increased from 2015 to reach a record 671,999 in 2019. In a recent report, one in five adults in the UK were found to want to start a business in 2021, with one-third being in the eighteen-to-thirty age group. This is an encouraging trend! Unfortunately, 20 per cent of businesses in the UK fail in their first year, and 60 per cent fail within three years. In the European Union in 2015, enterprises employing fewer than 250 persons represented 99 per cent of all enterprises. Substantial skills need to be applied to setting up and operating a successful business, and it is no different for kingdom entrepreneurs. There is no ‘magic wand’ that God gives us to make everything work out well.

An important question is what an entrepreneur is, and, in the context of this book, what makes a person a kingdom entrepreneur. I use the phrase ‘kingdom entrepreneur’ as shorthand and I need to explain what I mean. A kingdom entrepreneur is an entrepreneur whose life is committed to following Jesus Christ, who has entered into the kingdom of God and who lives out the values of this kingdom using their God-given gifts to extend this kingdom in their spheres of influence.

Getting to the heart of the matter

Fundamentally, an entrepreneur is prepared to take risk and to put their physical assets on the line to obtain benefits.

Risk is inherent in the life of an entrepreneur!

It is reported that it was the pastor, author and founder of the Vineyard movement, John Wimber, who first coined the phrase ‘faith is spelled r-i-s-k’. I have found this to be true. The truth is that life involves risk. When God instructs us to trust Him and not to ‘lean … on [our] own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5), He knows there is risk to us in doing so, and we know that too. The key is taking reasonable risk, or faith-filled risk, and not stupid risk. Walking on water (Matthew 14:22-32) may be viewed as stupid risk, but Peter didn’t wake up one morning and think, ‘I’m going to walk on water today to bless Jesus.’ He was responding to the invitation of Jesus to walk with Him on the water. You bet that he learned some lessons that day when he began to sink, but Jesus grabbed him to get him back in the boat! Peter was prepared to take risk in the knowledge that Jesus was there for him anyway. The risk was getting very wet, taking in some water and looking an idiot in front of the other disciples – some of which probably happened. But he trusted Jesus to rescue him. I reckon Peter was an entrepreneur of faith. Sure, he messed up a good few times and needed to be restored, which he was, but Jesus gave to him the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). Now, that is some benefit!

Kingdom entrepreneurs?

To me there is a significant and tangible difference between someone who is driven by the desire to gain for themselves the benefits from a venture, and a kingdom-minded person who wants to gain benefit for the common good. The big difference is how they go about gaining the benefit, and what the benefit is. The next chapter will look briefly at the kingdom of God, but for now I want to say that, in my opinion, all followers of Jesus are people of the kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven, if you prefer). They are people who acknowledge the Kingship of Jesus Christ in their lives, their dreams, purposes, actions and priorities. They are those whose focus is firmly fixed on heaven while living their lives on earth.

So I see that a key distinctive in the mindset of the kingdom entrepreneur is what benefit we are expecting, working and praying for in our business, charity, church, etc.

Gaining benefit

I guess you will have heard of people who are ruthless in their quest for profit, fame/celebrity or power because their motivation is to advance themselves. Maybe you’ve had dealings with someone like this. I have, and I have to say that I have struggled to relate to them. For the kingdom-minded person, the way that they go about gaining benefit must be rooted firmly in the way that Jesus modelled for us to live. As Jesus made clear, for example to the rich man, as the Gospel writer records in Mark 10:17-23, placing our faith, trust or comfort in money or other things where the recipient keeps the benefit exclusively to themselves, or gains an overinflated view of themselves thus affecting their beliefs and behaviours, is not a kingdom motivation. As another Gospel writer, Luke, demonstrates in his description of a man called Zacchaeus, a supervisor of tax collectors in Jericho, in his encounter with Jesus (Luke 19:1-10), it is about a response to the grace of a lavishly generous God!

What is the benefit?

There could be many ways of thinking about the benefits from entrepreneurship – profit, money, payback on risk, power and purpose are likely to be some of those.

For the kingdom entrepreneur, their vision, motivation and drive are, I contend, ‘higher’ than these quite narrow, worldly focused intentions. They are concerned with the extending of the kingdom ‘on earth as it is heaven’ (Matthew 6:10). They are focused clearly on the renewal of creation which God originally declared to be ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31), and which will be so again when Jesus returns to earth to judge sin finally, and to establish His rule de facto. Ever since the Fall (Genesis 3), God’s plan has been to reinstitute His rule on earth through the work of Christ, and through the Church universal, as those who co-labour with God to achieve His purpose in a world teeming with righteousness, love and justice. Perhaps this can be well summed up in the phrase ‘prosperity for all’.

Prosperity in the kingdom?

I find it interesting that many Christians and churches, certainly in the UK, have historically shied away from the concept of prosperity, even becoming uncomfortable because in their thinking there remains the imputed association that prosperity is somewhat sinful and must be resisted. It took me some time to shake off this mindset, and I should say that I’m not sure where I learned this concept. I think that it is based on a premise, false in my opinion, that there is a direct relationship between spirituality and lack. I need to say here that I do not agree with, and I am not advancing, what has been coined the ‘prosperity gospel’, ie one where people are encouraged, or even told, to give financially to people or causes as the means of God blessing us with more in return than we have given.

In considering the spirituality–lack argument, Douglas Harrison-Mills, in his most helpful thesis, asserts that this demonstrates an incomplete consideration of the scheduling and reason of the varied stages of the cycle of the spiritual and the economic, as scarcity and abundance should be thought of as not the end point but the means of achieving it. In the Old Testament stories, such cycles are designed to drive God’s people to prayer and repentance. God then says that He would restore the blessings in His covenants to the people, which in turn leads to a torrent of grain, oil and new wine, leading again to abundance.

Prosperity defined

Biblical prosperity is closely allied with the Old Testament word shalom, meaning well-being in its wide sense, and is embodied in Jesus’ statement concerning abundant life: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10) – meaning super-abundantly. It is a full sense of flourishing and lack of scarcity. The truth is that as kingdom-minded people we should flourish and prosper over the long term. It is what we do with our flourishing that is more important to me.

The focus of prosperity is not only on me, but on those around me. Prosperity is to do with appropriately positioned peace, freedom and security, being part of a caring community, good education and training, good healthcare, opportunity to work, to innovate and for recreation, to be truly free and to have space to be. It is about the opportunity and the environment for everyone to discover and fulfil and then to share their potential. It involves both wealth and well-being and destroys the basis for social isolation. Its focus is not only on me but on those around me in my community of friends and colleagues, in my country as a whole and internationally. This reflects the impact and expansion of His kingdom. Old Testament prophecies (Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Jeremiah 31:12-14, 31-34; Ezekiel 36:26-30; Joel 2:18-32) clearly relate to prosperity for the people (community or nation) and not simply for individuals. In his letter to the exiles in Babylon, Jeremiah says that God instructs them to ‘seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’ (Jeremiah 29:7).

The focus of prosperity is not only on me, but on those around me.

I believe that kingdom entrepreneurs are well placed, if not uniquely placed, to be the main agents for driving community prosperity. The gathering of wealth in its fullest meaning has as its aim and purpose not principally the aggrandisement of an individual but the prosperity and flourishing of the community.

Shining glory!

A kingdom entrepreneur models the kingdom of God to those around them. Kingdom entrepreneurs are therefore kingdom people whom God has gifted with the ability to create and innovate enterprises, culture, products and services in a way that demonstrates human redemption. They are being prophetic to their world around them, pointing clearly to Jesus, the redeemer of humankind. I see kingdom entrepreneurs as those who are prepared to embrace risk for the return of the advancement of the kingdom. Maybe we can envisage kingdom entrepreneurs as ‘true disruptors’– to use the language of those who have pioneered the use of technology and services to disrupt the established markets – except that these true disruptors are disrupting the influences over a largely godless society of the ‘the powers of this dark world’ (Ephesians 6:12).

A kingdom entrepreneur models the kingdom of God to those around them.

This modelling of the kingdom of God will be distinctive to kingdom people. It may be in the way that we deliver services, the products that we supply, the culture that we have generated and are ‘exporting’, the way that we interact with others, in our generosity and grace, in our redemptive actions in the community, that are the fingerprints of our entrepreneurship. Redemption will be the thread that marks out our enterprises from others, signalling that in the words of Jesus, ‘The time has come … The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1:15). So, when we interact with others, we’re shining the glory of God and demonstrating that His kingdom has come.

Pause, pray, practise

• Pause: Do I hold the view that it is more spiritual for me, my community and my nation to live in lack or in prosperity?
• Pause: How did I come to hold this viewpoint? Where did I learn it?
• Pray: Father, is my viewpoint fixed by human opinion or by Your truth?
• Practise: What do I need to do if my viewpoint needs to be changed?

Tags:

  • Nick Nicholson

    Becoming a follower of Jesus just before he went to University, Nick worked for 12 years in research and consultancy before he and his wife were called to join a growing church plant in Northampton. Unable to find work in a commutable distance he took the plunge and went self-employed with a month’s salary as capital, a mortgage and a growing family! The business grew to two limited companies, three UK offices and clients in the UK, Europe, the Middle and Far East. Having been Managing Director for 25 years, Nick recently stepped down from his role and...

  • Risk, Reward and Values

    Nick Nicholson

    The kingdom entrepreneur is passionately in love with Jesus and seeks to live by heaven’s values. Whether leading in business, the not-for-profit or charity sector, their priority is to honour God and honour people...