Business vs Ministry

One of the Internet marketing fellows I follow online made this comment: He said that starting a business is the best personal development course you’ll ever take. And he talked about the stuff you learn and who you become, the pressures you face, the problems you solve and overcome, the goals you accomplish- all that.

And I got to thinking about that principle and the things I’ve learned in the business world. I got thinking “Well what about being in Christian leadership?” That’s a pretty high level of personal development as well for a lot of the same reasons- for the problems you solve, the pressures you face, the things you learn, who you become. It’s all kind of the same.

I’ve moved from pastoral ministry into business and back and in fact I find myself in a place right now where somehow I am trying to navigate this situation where I’m in business as a consultant serving churches. And I also have my online work and my Internet marketing and all that stuff. So I’m in both worlds.

I’ve been reflecting on how has each developed me. And I would say that, well, I’m not ready to sign off on the idea that starting a business is the best personal development thing you can do. I would probably agree that starting a business or being in Christian leadership and probably in some cases in leadership in general is one of the best personal development things you can do.

Now I’ve learned some things in ministry that you probably don’t learn in business, in a lot of cases that help you in business, especially if you’re a Christian because you learn in ministry that everything you do ought to be ministry that your life should be integrated as a follower of Jesus. You don’t have this sacred secular split. It’s all sacred. It’s all offered to him. It’s all Romans 12 offering ourselves completely to him as a living sacrifice, and ministry just locks in the eternal perspective the eternal bottom line the eternal value of people.

And then you learn skills that help you contribute to that but also some practices that aren’t typically a part of business like prayer, like drawing on the wisdom of the Word especially for instance Proverbs is so great for business. And the whole idea of serving people. So there’re things that I’ve learned in vocational ministry that have informed and shape the business facet of my life.

But there’re some things I’ve learned in business that I didn’t learn in ministry that have added to and strengthen my ministry. And the biggest thing that I’ve learned in business that wasn’t apparent in ministry, in fact quite the contrary, the opposite, was sometimes taught in ministry contexts. And that is the value that I bring to the table.

I may have shared the story in the past how when I was in the professional speaking world I engaged with a consultant who worked with speakers helping them develop their platform and their talk and their marketing and everything else. And when she found out that I was coming from a church, Christian ministry background, she asked me “Do you have a problem with money?” I said “What do you mean?” She said “Well I’ve dealt with people who used to be pastors before. And what I discovered is you don’t understand how much you’re worth.” And that set me back on my heels.

You know it’s really interesting where I could go from a pastoral ministry situation where you know, sometimes the wage wasn’t the greatest, to speaking two one hour gigs in a month and making more in that month than I made in any month of pastoral ministry. In fact the higher level speakers make more in a one hour gig than I have ever made in a month in a salaried position. She said “You just don’t know what you’re worth.”.

And so I’ve learned that there’s this this false humility that can creep into people in ministry, where you know “It’s all the Lord it’s not me it’s the Lord.” In fact it’s the Lord who gifts us and calls us and we obey and respond and yes, John 15, Apart from him we can do nothing that matters for eternity. And yet he works in us through us and engages our mind our will our emotions every part of us in doing effective ministry.

All that to say, I find that ministry, being a Christian leadership, has developed me as a person. Being in business has developed me as a person, and there’s some great cross-fertilization that happens between the business world and the ministry world. And some things we can learn that feed into the other. So if you are just in vocational ministry, get to know some of the business people. If you’re just in business, get to know some good Christian leaders. Your life will be enhanced, your business will be enhanced or your ministry will be enhanced by learning from that other part of the world.

And I want to land right now is simply to say this: You probably don’t know how valuable you are, how valuable you are in dollars and cents and in eternal impact. In fact that’s kind of why I started the PastorX side project. It’s about helping pastors and their spouses understand their value. I’m not going to get into that right now but just understand that as a follower of Jesus you bring real value to this world. So serve with confidence, serve passionately, but keep your eye on that eternal bottom line. Win the lost at any cost because people last forever.

Press on. Have a great day.

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