This past Sunday, my pastor concluded a series on serving others. The timing couldn't have been more perfect as I prepared to write this post. He used the illustration that God's people are not called to be cruise ships - relaxed, partying, and cruising through life like our purpose is to simply bask in God's glory.
Rather, we are like F/A 18s catapulting from an aircraft carrier - being scattered throughout the world to plant seeds for the kingdom. Don't get the wrong impression - we're not "bombing for Jesus!"
Instead, we are using spiritual ammunition to fight an unseen enemy (through prayer and God's word) while simultaneously dropping humanitarian aid and planting seeds of hope in lands of hopelessness.
We are called to be missionaries in our homes, places of employment, businesses, neighborhoods, schools, political offices, and communities.
This doesn't involve being religious or self-righteous, but to be loving, humble examples of Christ to a hurting and desperate world.
In business, we are called to be "Marketplace Minsters," serving not only our customers, but also our employees and suppliers.
What you do with your money is important. You should not be in business only to serve your self-interests.
Becoming wealthy means nothing if you are using it to gain status or create a life of materialism.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in business, especially network marketing or home-based businesses, is the promotion of materialism. "Keeping up with" or surpassing the Joneses is not it's all cracked up to be!
Perspective is important, and understanding your role in God's design for money and becoming a Minister or Missionary in the Marketplace is key to success.
1. Self-Preservation and Protection
You number one focus for going into business should be first and foremost providing for and protecting your family. Leaving a legacy, an inheritance, is good, the Bible says. And working to ensure your family is provided for, even long after you are gone, not just materialistically, but spiritually and emotionally, is of utmost importance.
A lesson I learned the hard way is that you WILL NOT succeed at anything else if your own house is out of order and you don't put your spouse and children first.
This does not mean you need a big mansion on a hill with a four-car garage to house your boat, SUV, and 2 Lamborghinis. No! It means you spend wisely.
One of the best and most valued investments ever is time, and money spent on making memories. Vacations are important for this reason alone!
Creating memories is far more valuable than materialistic treasures!
That doesn't mean you neglect your obligations to pursue memory making endeavors, however. Because if you are in danger of losing your home because you can't pay the rent or mortgage, in order to go to Disneyland, that is not good wisdom.
Placing your survival in jeopardy for vacations is foolish. And there are other memory-making events that don't require sacrificing your safety and security - such as family nights playing games or simple things like coloring, building things, or whatever.
Be sure your family is provided for and protected first and foremost.
2. Church and Extended Family
As you are able, giving to church and other family is second in line of priorities. Your extended family will be there to support you in your hour of need, and you need to be there to support them in their hour.
Plus, they'll be the ones who help your family should, God forbid, you suffer a major setback or crisis or even graduate to God's glory (death). So, fostering those relationships and helping when possible is critical.
Give when you can to help the homeless man on the street, charities, and others when possible. Although these are not people who will invest in your life, they are the beneficiaries of your marketplace ministry.
In other words, once your business provides for your personal and familial needs, give to your church and extended family. Then, give to help your community and the world as God lays it upon your heart.
Remember, YOU are not the Savior of the world! One lesson I learned was my giant heart of commpassion often interfered with God's plan.
Sometimes people are in the shape they're in because of the choices they made. While we have compassion on them, we are not always called to rescue them out of their consequences. By doing so, even if we love them dearly, we can really interfere with God's plan.
We should help when possible, AS GOD LEADS. Sometimes God simply points them out so we can pray for them, not save them. Saving is His business and issue, not ours.
Keep this in mind, and you'll maintain proper perspective about your calling to serve and what is truly your business.