Two Ways to Look at This On a very cold January 1, 1984, I started my business in the house pictured above. I had the entire upper floor of the building. The heat worked some, the one bathroom was accessible by walking outside on the porch, and I had a single line telephone…and a bunch of dreams. But from that very first day, I had a sense that I would never own this business. Yes, my name would be on the lease along with the multiple loans that I incurred to make things work. But while it seemed that all the responsibility would be mine, the ownership remained elsewhere. Over time, I learned that I get to choose how this works. Here are my two choices.
Scenario #1 I started the business almost thirty-four years ago. I borrowed $50,000 to get started. I worked hard, studied hard and landed some great contracts. I started small, but today we have almost forty employees. About twenty years ago, I brought on two partners. I gave them a chance to be part of the business, and they have done well for themselves. I started from scratch, but today I am in a position to not have to work. I have great people who are doing all the work, and at some point I am going to kick back and enjoy the view.
Scenario #2 I was going through a very difficult time in life, and God brought abrupt change in my career and ultimately my life. I always felt like I should be involved in ministry, so it was a shock to sense that He was calling me to business. I had no idea what I was doing. I did not go to business school. The only thing I had was this sense that God was leading me in all of this. We worked hard, we took a lot of risks, and we steadily moved forward. There were some times when it looked like we would not make it, but it was evident that God was protecting us every step of the way. My partners have been a gift from God. While we have had some different opinions over the years, we have never had a fight in the twenty years of working together. We have a couple simple goals. We want to care for our clients, and care for our employees. We tithe on our profit, but we are always looking for ways to put our money into ministry. I don’t think I will ever retire. What we are doing is too important to quit. And we are now making succession plans to make sure that this endeavor goes beyond the first generation. It’s a kingdom thing.
Notice the Difference? It’s all about ownership. To my own embarrassment, the only Scripture I ever memorized that I still retain is Psalm 24. But if you have to remember a passage of Scripture, this is a good one. Verse one says, “The earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof. The world and they that dwell therein.” In other words, on my best day, I am at best a steward of what God has given to me. It all belongs to Him.
It’s not my business. But it is better business.