One of the things uncovered through working with my personal coach was the realization that despite 7 years of being a business owner, I still did not identify as one! In response, I wrote a letter to myself affirming this part of my identity.
I share it below in the hopes that it might encourage you and other faith-driven entrepreneurs to keep fighting the good fight of faith 🙂
You are a businessman
Chris, you are a businessman. You haven’t felt that way because you’ve let your identity be defined by the market rather than sharing your identity as a gift to the market. You’ve allowed yourself to be afraid of the competition. You presume potential partners will look down on you and are afraid customers who believe in you and your product will ultimately fail.
No wonder you’ve avoided integrating the business owner identity!
It’s been associated with fear, shame and failure. Your builder identity is associated with effectiveness, service, scale, ingenuity, brilliance, reliability, excellence, pride (the good kind) and wowing people.
It’s time to cut the false associations surrounding your business identity. It’s time to create new ones.
What if instead of waiting for the market to validate your worth you shared your uniqueness, your worth, with the market to serve others? You’ve made the mindset shift in dating, why not business?
Some clients, prospects, partners, customers will not value what you have to offer, will seek to take advantage of, undermine, oppress, destroy or ignore you.
BUT don’t forget that other clients, prospects, partners and customers will be amazed, delighted, grateful, trusting, gracious, supportive and proud of you.
Your greatest strength isn’t that you are the founder of a billion dollar unicorn startup. Your greatest strength is that you are a humble child of God, a servant of Jesus Christ, who loves people and seeks to use everything in his capacity–and beyond his capacity–to raise the bar in creating, serving, witnessing, delighting and enjoying.
Let that influence and reframe your identity as a businessman. You are inescapably a businessman, so why not be the kind of businessman Christ would be and is in your shoes?
Think about business with the mind of Christ.
What did Jesus consider to be a great harvest? He didn’t exclude the rich, but he didn’t target them either. Kind of the opposite of marketing 101. He thought helpless and harassed sheep–the poor–were a marvelous harvest to enrich God’s Kingdom.
What did Jesus say about competition? Whoever is not against him is for him.
Who did Jesus initially choose for his team? Not the academic elite or politically connected. He chose misfits–fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, ordinary men and women.
Yet Jesus was a rabbi, a tekton, a man, a son, a king and in a sense, a businessman. He defines what it means to be each of those identities. And as a businessman, he wants a return on investment, thinks in terms of exponential growth and sows for a hundredfold returns.
It’s probably why he teaches disciples to “seek first the Kingdom of God.”
Present needs will be met, but the Kingdom is where eternal dividends are to be found. God gives business people the ability to generate wealth. That means you don’t define your worth by your ability to generate wealth–that’s just a gift, it’ll come and be given by God.
Don’t think that because you don’t have millions of dollars in revenue, VC funding, a rapidly expanding customer base and an enormous team that you are therefore a terrible businessman. Don’t think that because the software industry feels like “winner-takes-all” there is no room for you with competitors who are so much faster, well resourced, renown, or XYZ than you. Don’t think that partners look down on you.
Remember that you have humbly served customers’ needs, that you have brought revenue to other entrepreneurs and workers, that you have sought to serve even the least of these, that you have innovated and brought to the market something unique and valuable in the service of God’s Kingdom, that you have borne witness to what your ultimate customer desires and faithfully endured despite the fear of missing out on the tech boom enriching your peers.
That may not be a new tech emperor, but it sounds like a faithful Christ-following businessman to me! And that identity is something to be proud of and grateful for.
You are a Christ-following businessman.
Your worth is Christ’s love for you, your status is wrapped up in his humble glory and intimate knowledge of you, your reward is an eternal inheritance and everlasting life and your present needs will be completely met by his grace.
Don’t feel discouraged when competitors seem to tell the world that they are so amazing you don’t even have a chance. Don’t feel discouraged when customers even decide on something else. Don’t be discouraged or afraid.
Your Lord and chief customer has opportunities he is giving to you even as we speak. His harvest is so plentiful there aren’t enough workers to labor in it. He is sending you into that harvest, so live into your identity, developing and using your full capacity to reap this great harvest that is before you. Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything will be added to you.