When you want to start your own business as a Christian, you usually first have to ask yourself which legal form is best for you. Most people go to the Chamber of Commerce unprepared and register as a sole trader, private limited company, or general partnership. Then they go to work hard and want to earn money as quickly as possible.
Sometimes things go well for the wind, but it can also go wrong. The latter is unfortunately, all too often the order of the day. Afterward, entrepreneurs discover that a different approach was needed. A pity, because if one had just taken the time for some Biblical principles to set up the company, then much trouble could have been prevented.
The Bible says a lot about the leadership and survival of a company.
The vision of leadership in a company according to Biblical principles
Good entrepreneurship is not only purely a Christian principle. But it is precisely Christian entrepreneurs who can shape entrepreneurship differently according to Biblical principles. For Christians, this is a challenge but undoubtedly also a reliable guide in good and difficult times and to make a difference compared to regular businesses. Christian entrepreneurship starts with the awareness of taking responsibility for creation, nature, and humanity.
This triple makes you aware as an entrepreneur to give concrete form to Christian identity.
What does the Bible say about entrepreneurship and leadership
God took the initiative to make something unparalleled from chaos. (Genesis 1) He went to work intensively, creatively, and innovatively. God created order and structure in the chaos. Finally, He created man to sustain His work. Adam was instructed by God to give the animals a name. Not a simple assignment but a whole undertaking. The animals that we still call by name as Adam called them.
Then Adam and Eve were instructed (read commandment) to take care of the creation that God had delivered to them. Here we already receive several incomparable lessons that we rarely think about.
Lessons from Hebrew for a company
Hebrew has great handles to apply. We do God and ourselves short to ignore that. In Hebrew (Genesis 1: 28), it says, “dominate or enslave.” In Genesis 2:15, we read the Hebrew word “abad”. We can translate this with “working, serving for someone else, being led to serving or being seduced into serving.” In the same text, we also read the Hebrew word “shamat”.
This must be translated as preserving, guarding, protecting, keeping alive, observing an oath, controlling, paying attention, restraining, abstaining, keeping, observing, appreciating. “The meaning of the Hebrew verbs have many agreements with the intention of a company. The most important intention of a company is often ‘to be of service.’ For the Christian entrepreneur, in particular, it applies to be of service to God in his work.
Paul, leadership, and entrepreneur
Paul says it very aptly; “Whether anyone builds upon this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, everyone’s work will be revealed. The day will make it clear because it appears in fire. And how everyone’s work is, the light will If someone’s work that he has built on the foundation persists, he will receive a reward, if someone’s work is burned, he will suffer damage, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire (1 Corinthians 3: 3). 12-15) Paul talks about a foundation and about the material of the structure, especially the work that Christians do for other people, and everything you do as a Christian is for the construction of our neighbor.
What does the Bible say about leadership and advice for a company
Good entrepreneurship cannot do without help. The most famous example of Bible advice we see with Moses (Exodus 18: 1-27). Moses tells his father-in-law Jethro what God had done to deliver the people from Egypt. Jethro sees it with his own eyes and confirms the great deeds of God.
Then Jethro thanked God with sacrifices. Then Jethro sees how busy Moses is giving advice and mediating problems of the people and, Jethro wonders why Moses does all that work alone and exhorts him because he considers that Moses cannot keep it up and people go more and more complain. Jethro advises appointing wise men to lead various groups of people.
Moses followed the advice, and it improved his leadership. So we see that God does miracles but also uses people to give information for strong leadership. An essential principle in this leadership and advice is that, despite the excellent division of tasks, Moses kept talking to God.
Advice on personal leadership for an entrepreneur
We see with Moses that he was always busy. Entrepreneurs are also people who cannot sit still. There are companies of Christian owners who are doing well. But some do less well. For starting entrepreneurs, it is essential to have experience with the work with which they will start their own business.
Then it is essential to have several people around you who can give you advice. You cannot run a business without proper advice. Sometimes there are two or more owners in a company. As long as things are going well and good profits are made, there will be little determination or criticism of the figures. There are even entrepreneurs who have absolutely no knowledge of reading an annual report. They only look at the profit.
The advice in a company
The moment that profits fall or even losses are made, strong leadership is needed. In your company, just like Moses, appoint a number of people who can help you by giving advice. This can be done, for example, by setting up an Advisory Board. The Advisory Board can be of great value to the company. As an entrepreneur, be open to criticism and advice.
The Council can check the annual figures and indicate costs that may be more advantageous. An Advisory Board can help to provide insight in time into blind spots. A good Advisory Board can help shape your corporate identity.
What does Jesus say about leadership from an entrepreneur
Jesus warns us when we are rich or want to become rich. It is a risk and a trap for temptations. The rich young man asked Jesus how he could become the (co) owner of the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19: 16-30) The answer was not what he expected. Jesus first had to sell everything. The young man left disappointed because, if he had to sell everything, what was left of him? He could not renounce his assets. Here we see a striking example when it comes to Biblical principles.
Responsible Biblical entrepreneurship starts with you.
Get rich quick through unfair deals
If you want to put Bible principles into practice as a Christian entrepreneur, you will irrevocably encounter resistance from yourself and others. The entrepreneur must carefully examine the person he or she is. That insight is often not yet available when one is young and ambitious. Sometimes people find out for themselves through damage and disgrace. But why, as an entrepreneur, would you choose that path if things can also be changed.
You have become an entrepreneur, or you decide to become one, but do not step in to get rich quickly. That premise is often doomed to fail. Christian entrepreneurs are often discouraged if they don’t get good deals, if they are not successful or if there are less than a million in the bank account.
Entrepreneurship in a secularizing society
Honest and reliable business requires an ethical code and norms and values. If you do not adhere to this, you are, by definition, already doing the wrong thing. Fortunately, companies and consumers are protected by law. Although there are many similarities with regular ethical practices, Biblical principles are at odds with some norms and values in a secularizing society. These do not have to be disadvantaged, but can offer challenges and opportunities for the Christian entrepreneur.
Interest and loans
In the Bible, we discover that we have to make a distinction to ask for interest when we lend money. In Matthew 25: 27, we read that it is even a sin if we do nothing with our money. The servant from the mentioned Bible passage buried his money in the ground. Jesus calls him a “useless” servant. The other servants turned in their money for a profit.
Jesus said that they were kind and loyal servants. If they could do good things with little money, they would receive even more. Leviticus 25: 35-38 states that asking the poor for interest is forbidden. Someone rich does not have his money for himself but to hand it out to people in need. He can make his cash available or someone else himself. For Christians, the Biblical principles about interest and borrowing are therefore precious. You can only help someone when no interest is charged.
If that does happen, then, it is no help. In this way, God protects the poor who have got into trouble because of injustice.
Forgiveness of old debts
In Matthew 18: 23-35, we see another excellent example of forgiveness and mercy. The king remits a servant of ten thousand talents. Then that service does not do that with his colleague. The king calls him to account, and the servant still has to pay everything back. God does not explicitly prohibit lending or borrowing money. It is advisable to compare different Bible texts when you want to borrow or borrow money. If possible, then short-term loans of, for example, five years are the safest.
The loan for a mortgage on a house or business premises is, in most cases, loans of more than ten years. However, this is a ‘necessary evil.’ God’s Word is not specifically against that. However, it is essential to get proper advice from reliable people.
Vision and entrepreneurship
“Governing means looking ahead,” a saying goes. We have already read that ‘shamat’ and ‘abat’ are essential tools for determining your posture. God encourages us to develop a vision or to dare to dream. ‘Serving for God’ and ‘keeping alive’ determine the idea for now and the future. Jesus told a parable about a wise and unwise man who was going to build a house. (Matthew 8: 24-27) It was a message for the people back then, but for now, too, that message is current.
Our house is our everything. We usually have to live in it all our lives. It is a safe basis for a family. It is precisely this ‘basis’ that must be good. Not only literally with an excellent concrete foundation, but also with a suitable financing structure. If you take out a mortgage that is too high, and there is a setback, you run the risk that the safe base will collapse.
Also, people waited too long to repay or take out too expensive insurance policies. It is useful to consider these matters carefully. The words of Jesus are of vital importance, and when a Christian entrepreneur tests his or her vision, the ‘house’ will be able to withstand any setbacks.
What does the Bible say about doing business for an entrepreneur
The Bible is clear that someone should do business reasonably. Solomon prepared the Bible Book of Proverbs. Solomon was known for his wisdom that he had received from God. In the context of doing business, Proverbs 11 is a beautiful inspiration for the Christian entrepreneur. Some Proverbs seem logical, but in practice, we see that entrepreneurs hardly apply the principles above.