Recently, I had the awesome privilege of speaking at a young adults conference about Kingdom and Business, two words that many have felt don’t align or go together. But in my experience, the two are deeply embedded in each other and cannot be separated.
So I thought I would share some of my thoughts from the content I presented in hopes that it may encourage you and your view/thoughts about Kingdom and Business.
“God was the first entrepreneur. He brought something out of nothing. He established order out of chaos. He created for the good of others. Before the bible tells us that God is loving, holy or merciful, we learn that He is creative.” – Jonathan Raynor
Whether or not you agree with this statement, I find there is certainly a level of truth to it.
Taking something that was chaos and creating order, you could say, is definitely what being an entrepreneur is all about. Disruption. This idea that things could be done better and you have a solution as to how that could happen or at the very least you’re willing to go on the journey of finding out if there is a solution to be found.
Being an entrepreneur seems to be the life goal of most 20-somethings these days. It’s become the thing to do. Start your online business, make millions and travel the world for the rest of your life earning a passive income. If only it was as easy as that. The reality of entrepreneurialism is that being an entrepreneur is more about grit and grind than it is about swimming in your piles of cash.
But then anything worth doing, anything that is going to last, anything that has true Kingdom purpose to it, is going to cost you. That’s what makes it worth doing.
What I find the most interesting part of this statement is “He created for the good of others”
To me, this is where Kingdom and business collide in a really exciting way.
But what do we mean by this term Kingdom Business?
Well, it might be helpful to start with what it is not. The Regent University Centre for Entrepreneurship states that Kingdom business is not:
- It is not a tool to generate money to support missions – Yes I know many of us see business as the ideal instrument to support missions but Regent University says the problem is that all the resources in the kingdom are the King’s and all these resources must be committed to realize His mission, not just to gain business profits. The business itself is a mission.
- It is not a tool to make money using the Bible – the scriptures are very clear; godliness is not a means for gain. We do not start businesses owned by the King just to make money because God already has money. Money is generated through obedience to God and proper stewardship of the His resources.
- It is not a strategy to isolate ourselves from the world – Unfortunately despite Jesus’ instructions that we ought to be in the world though not of it; many believers continue to look for ways to isolate themselves from the world. This is unscriptural. Kingdom business should take us further in the world not take us out.
- It is not a business operated by a Christian – just because you are a Christian in business it does not make your business a kingdom business. For your business to be a kingdom business, you must submit your life and business to the lordship of Jesus.
What then is a kingdom business?
A Kingdome Business is a profit making enterprise under the lordship of Jesus Christ, operated by born again believers. It honors Jesus through its products and services, it is managed based on biblical principles, serves as a light in the marketplace, and its profit is used for the advancement of the kingdom of God in the earth.
So we can see that a Kingdom business isn’t about making a stack of cash and funneling that into Charities and NFP’s – although I am also not discouraging those things either. We need to give to charities and NFP’s because they are also doing vital and important work that businesses can’t necessarily do themselves. We simply can’t do everything and nor should we.
The business itself should be modeled in a way that at the very core of its functionality is Kingdom principles.
Bringing light where there is darkness, honesty, integrity, love, compassion, self-control, generosity, wisdom etc. all those principles that we try and live by personally are the same principles we should live by when it comes to our business endeavours.
For example, the way Thread Harvest is set up is that if I left the business, or Davyn (my business partner) or any of the Christians on the team left the business, it would still be a Kingdom business.
This is because we have structured the business to operate within biblical principles.
We have 6 Impact Badges which act as standards for our Brands – so our brands need to meet 2-3 of the badges before we will consider stocking them. And the Badges also act as education for our customers. Most people don’t understand what ethical fashion is and why it matters, so these badges are aimed at helping us achieve those two things. Our 6 Impact Badges are:
Would you agree that we are called to love God, love people and be good stewards of God’s earth?
Can you see within those badges the representation of people and planet?
We originally had Upcycled and Organic as well but recently decided to roll all them up into on our Eco-Friendly badge. We’re weighted towards the people piece because we came to realise that if that Organic cotton farmer continues to get paid a Living Wage, he’s going to continue to organically farm his cotton which is good for the environment.
You see the flaw in our original business idea (a profits for purpose fashion label – watch the story here) was that if we didn’t sell enough products to make a profit we couldn’t use the profits for a greater purpose.
With this business model, it doesn’t matter if we make a profit or not. The items we stock have already been made at the very beginning in a way the helps people and protects the planet, so any sale already has an impact. The Biblical principle of love God, love people and steward the earth well has been woven into the fabric of Thread Harvest.
I ended my talk with the following quote, it’s taken from Entrepreneur and whilst it is specifically referring to American society and secular business, I think it’s call for better leaders and businesses is spot on. I find it fascinating how the author is speaking of biblical principles without once mentioning God.
We need hero leaders and companies to reclaim the best parts of the American spirit of free enterprise and entrepreneurialism. We need to abandon the scarcity mentality (for me to win, you or someone else has to lose) for an abundance mentality that is win-win for all. But if we as a nation are going to do this, organizations and their leaders need to light a collective fire. And to start this fire, we need catalysts: more leaders and companies that are choosing the path of hero leadership.
What I’m asking is for you to become a person with big ideas and noble ideals. Someone of spirit and tenacity, values and purpose, goodness and selflessness, who leads your organization or team from the head and the heart. I’m looking for social entrepreneurs and CEOs, business owners small and large who have the courage and commitment to consistently and constantly give back and give more to serve others — even when warning signs and Wall Street say to quit. The ones who welcome all people and all points of view to the table. The ones who make a difference in people’s lives. Hero companies and leaders—whether they are solo practitioners or have millions of global employees — can do all the above without dismissing the power of profit.
Sounds a lot like biblical principles if you ask me….