Entrepreneurship creates the opportunity for personal, individual flourishing.
Flourish is one of my favorite words, probably because it enjoys a variety of dictionary definitions:
- To be in a vigorous state, to thrive
- To be in its or in one’s prime, the height of fame, excellence, or influence
- To be successful and prosper
- To grow luxuriantly or thrive in growth
- To grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment
After reading that list, I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to flourish!
I am specifically drawn to that last definition on the list. Growing vigorously especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
Over the last five to ten years, I have experienced firsthand, and have witnessed hundreds of times, individuals thriving within entrepreneurial environments. While such environments are typical of start-ups and small organizations, I have also seen personal flourishing occurring within entrepreneurial teams in much larger organizations.
What is it about entrepreneurial environments that make them such fertile soil for personal flourishing? There are at least three reasons.
Entrepreneurial Environments Provide Opportunity for Alignment of Personal Purpose and Passion
Each of us has a special story that is uniquely ours. Central elements of our story are a sense of personal purpose and particular passions or areas of interest. Entrepreneurial environments offer the opportunity to align our personal purpose and our personal passion with the mission and vision of the organization.
At the same time, we’ll gain new perspective on how our individual story, the stories within the entrepreneurial community, and God’s much bigger story all fit together.
Indeed, I’ve seen flourishing released numerous times as a person gains a strong sense of his or her personal story and is afforded the privilege to align it with a group of others that share a common mission.
Entrepreneurial Environments Provide Opportunity for Risk-Taking, Challenge, and Personal Growth
As I noted in a post on entrepreneurship and building a “thank God it’s Monday!” culture, if entrepreneurial environments are anything, they are greenhouses for human growth.
There are always new problems to solve. Always new risks to assess and take. Always ample opportunity for meaningful, challenging work.
Meaningful work naturally springs from tackling difficult problems, taking risks, and creating novel solutions to bring to the marketplace. Invariably, we’ll be stretched and grow through this kind of work. We’ll flourish.
Entrepreneurial Environments Provide Opportunity for Natural Integration of Faith and Work
Jesus said in John 6:40,
Anyone who…aligns with Him, will enter real life, eternal life. (The Message)
There are over twenty similar references to real life in the gospel of John. And I absolutely believe Jesus had our work in mind when he spoke of real life.
- He intentionally placed us on the earth to fulfill the cultural mandate of taking charge of the creation in a godly, loving way.
- He intentionally called us to be co-creators with him.
- He intentionally brings us into relationship with him to partner in “setting things right.”
All of these are part of experiencing real life in Christ.
Entrepreneurial environments are ideal for allowing us to see the very natural integration of our faith with our work.
- Bureaucracy is minimal.
- Organizational layers are often non-existent.
- Politics are minimized.
- There is a direct, tangible opportunity to connect one’s personal role with the organization’s strategic objectives.
- Perhaps as important as anything, the missional essence of the company can be apprehended and experienced first-hand.
The more we see our work life and faith life as integrated with one another—and with all other life arenas—the more we will be freed from the debilitating effect of compartmentalizing. We will experience our life roles merging to produce what Jesus called real, abundant life.
What About You?
Are you called to be an entrepreneur or participate in an entrepreneurial environment?
Could your story be empowered through an entrepreneurial organization—either one of your own doing or a team to which you’re invited?
As you contemplate these questions, use these more granular questions to help you decide:
- Do I hear the voice of God’s Spirit directing me to step out and take a risk?
- Who do I have around me to support and encourage me on my journey?
- How might my faith become richer if I take this step?
How might you grow, be stretched, and personally flourish if you embrace the entrepreneurial opportunity before you?
Editor’s note: Read more about the integration of faith and work in How Then Should We Work?
On “Flashback Friday,” we take a look at some of IFWE’s former posts that are worth revisiting. This article was previously published on Sept. 21, 2015.
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