My friend Pete has been installing garage doors for over 30 years. He started with a truck and a tool belt and a dream of becoming a successful business owner. Pete has wonderful stories and memories of his early days launching his business, including huge tractor-trailers delivering garage doors to his small townhouse, having to store garage doors in his small kitchen, and taking on the first big scary job that he was not at all prepared for. Somehow, he made it all happen. I love listening to Pete recount those early days because he always references God’s faithfulness, power, and mercy.
Now, decades later, things are different for Pete. His wife no longer has to dodge garage doors in the kitchen to get her morning coffee, but instead enjoys traveling with Pete on mission trips to Africa and visits with their daughter in Australia. Through much faith in God, courage, hard work, perseverance, and a number of other admirable God-given qualities, Pete has built a business that facilitates flourishing and peace.
While growing his business, Pete has been guided by biblical values that include integrity, putting the interests of others before his own, service, generosity, and diligence, all of which have produced satisfied employees, customers, and vendors. Often businesses have values hung on the wall of the office or listed on their website, but Pete has modeled biblical values for his employees and built them into the culture of his business, while fulfilling the cultural mandate of Genesis 2:15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
Through the years, Pete and his family have flourished, but the impact extends beyond his family’s well-being and personal prosperity:
- His employees have used their God-given talents to serve customers well, resulting in the ability to provide for their own families.
- Pete’s customers have enjoyed a terrific garage door product and top-notch service.
- The company vendors have benefitted too, by selling their products and services to Pete’s business.
- The local community and economy have benefitted, too.
Pete’s success in business has resulted in decades of flourishing and peace for countless people and their families.
Beginning Well, Finishing Well
Now that Pete is in his later years, he has come to realize that there will be much at stake when he leaves his business, which is inevitable. He realizes God has bestowed a “treasure” on him in the form of his business, which he desires to steward wisely to allow flourishing to continue.
The same is true for all business owners who have realized success. The lives impacted by the services, products, and commerce of the business will all be affected, either positively or negatively, when the owner(s) eventually leave.
In preparing to leave the business, every owner has an opportunity to convey either continued flourishing and peace or anxiety and uncertainty to all people connected to that business. For example:
- An owner will not only be proactive in planning but also in communicating their plans to all who would be impacted.
- They might also make specific and formal commitments to key and important employees who would be instrumental in the continued success of the business.
- The owner would train and equip the owner’s successor(s) and other key employees to take over the owner(s) roles and responsibilities.
The owner’s plan for exit created, communicated, and then executed will lend to a peaceful transition and the ongoing flourishing of others.
Christians who build and sustain successful businesses do so guided by biblical convictions manifested in the way they treat others, make plans, and conduct themselves and their business dealings. In doing so, they fulfill God’s exhortation to the Babylonian exiles to serve others where they are planted:
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jer. 29:7).
Though Christian business owners face the same challenges any business owner faces, their work is characterized by an atmosphere of shalom that results in opportunities for individuals and communities to flourish.
Just as we are called to teach the next generations to “walk in God’s ways,” Christian business owners need to employ the same commitment to biblical values when exiting as they did in building a God-honoring and flourishing enterprise. There is much more at stake when an owner leaves a business after years of toil and investment than in the early years—when the biggest concern was, say, garage doors stacked against the wall in their kitchen.
No matter what stage of growth you’re in, if you are a business owner, ask yourself these questions:
- How can you plan to continue a legacy of faithful stewardship and service to others?
- Will your departure result in hardship and relational strife or flourishing and peace?
Editor’s Note: Read about the biblical stewardship of wealth in Wholehearted: A Biblical Look at the Greatest Commandment and Personal Wealth.
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