Are You Cut Out to Start an Organization?
There is a spiritual gift called the gift of apostleship. Apostles are created from birth (see Jeremiah 1) and called to serve God by starting new churches and new ministries. By apostles, I’m not only referring to the apostles of Christ like Peter or people like Paul. I’m referring to the millions of people before and after them who have been designed by God and gifted to start new institutions whenever God wants to work through an institution such as a church, ministry, etc. In addition to being created or designed and called, apostles are gifted by the Holy Spirit to do what they do. All three go together: Design, Calling, and Gifting.
In the United States, we have this very prevalent myth that we can do or become anything we want. It’s our birth right in our wonderful land of the free and home of the brave. If we set our mind to something and work hard, we believe we can achieve our goals. This resounds so much more strongly when our goal is noble and charitable in nature. As mentioned already, this belief is entrenched in our firm belief in our individual rights and freedoms and our belief in our endowments of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our Declaration of Independence boldly declares. And there is a strong emotional component that brands this myth on our consciences so strongly that it makes it difficult or even unconscionable to question it. It’s so firmly held that it’s almost indelible.
From a biblical perspective, we can’t be and do whatever we choose even if what we desire to do is noble and charitable. Deciding what we do in life is the sole province of God. He decides, we act. More accurately, he decides and he acts by working through us. Slaves don’t choose what they do. They don’t have a mind of their own. They execute their master’s will. Or rather, their master executes his will through them.
God is sovereignly in control in such a way that he chose before the foundation of the world the places where each of us must live, the times where we would live and the impact that we would make. None of us gets to chose our continent of birth, race, country, family, sex, height, IQ etc. God has made these choices for us and these choices when looked at and understood have an almost deterministic impact on everything else that we become and do in the future. To ignore the fact that God has designed each of us and has given us certain talents and abilities that enable us to be and to do certain things is one of the most foolish thing any of us can do. Simply by designing us in one specific way, God has decided what we can do and what we can’t do. By giving us some talents and gifts and not others God has predetermined what we can and cannot do. In other words, the level of design God has done in each of us and the resultant limitation that this design imposes on each of us is unchangeable. It basically confines us to certain areas of calling if we are to be maximally effective.
It’s like God has put us in a canon and shot us out in a certain direction and it is impossible for us to change that direction in a meaningful way. The only wise thing to do is alignment of our thoughts and desires with the direction he has chosen. That direction is our calling. The clue he gives us to that direction is our design itself. That’s why self-awareness is crucial in discovering calling. It is wishful and childish to think that we can do anything we set our minds to.
Many of the choices of what happens to us in life were made by God even before we were born and he is not done making these choices. He still works in and through us. Yielding to God’s design and working in the areas where he has designed and gifted us to work is wise and really the only way to win. The alternative is a losing one.The only way to win in life is yielding to God's design in the areas where He has gifted us (via… Click To Tweet
The Entrepreneurial Mind-Set Checklist
Founders of organizations or ministries are entrepreneurs. All entrepreneurs need to have certain key skills such as being willing to change and being able to articulate long-term vision. The following ten questions adapted from Understanding Business Strategy by R. Duane Ireland, Robert Hoskisson, and Michael Hitt give you a way to quickly assess whether you are cut out for starting an organization or not.
Remember, not everybody is created to be a founder. Founders aren’t special or better, they are just designed by God to be different and well suited for the challenges that their calling entails. Founders have the design and gifting that is called apostleship. Having a passion for a certain ministry doesn’t mean that we need to start one. It may be that we need to join one.
Answer with Yes / No
- Do I generally enjoy taking chances?
- Am I more comfortable with an established infrastructure?
- Do I generally accept situations rather than try to change them?
- Do I think I would prefer a guaranteed based pay instead of commission?
- Am I confortable in situations of high ambiguity?
- Am I creative?
- Do I generally rely on the opinion of others to guide my action?
- Have I ever brainstormed carefully about an unmet organizational need?
- Do I generally have problems articulating my ideas to others?
- Do I occasionally have difficulty fitting in when others seem comfortable?
Jesus’ Apostles Were All Entrepreneurs
The occupations of five of Jesus’ apostles are recorded in the Bible. Seven are not. If you study these occupations, you will see an important trend emerge which I believe is not coincidental. They were all entrepreneurs before they met Jesus.
The greatest of them were fishermen. Peter, John, James, and Andrew (Peter’s brother) were all fishermen. Peter, John and James were the top three of all of Jesus’ 12 apostles; they were all fishermen. Fishermen were entrepreneurs. By this I mean that their entrepreneurial design and talents were visible before they met Jesus. As fishermen, they knew something about working hard all day and not catching any fish. They understood what it meant to toil in unpredictable waters without any guarantee for immediate success but with certain long term hope that if they worked hard enough, God will eventually bless them. They not only had to produce their product (catching the fish) but they had to sell it for a good price to be able to make a living! Some of them were small business owners who hired other people to help them (Mark 1:14-20). This involved negotiation, good salesmanship, etc.
The fifth apostle whose occupation we know is Matthew who was a tax collector. Being a tax collector was something like a contractor for the Roman government in charge of collecting taxes. Matthew was a serious businessman.
When Jesus was selecting apostles who would start new organizations called churches, he chose people with proven entrepreneurial skills. Five out of five apostles whose occupations we know were businessmen. These men left their businesses and followed Jesus. Jesus was very wise to choose these entrepreneurs. But do you know what the pharisees and teachers of the law called them? They called them uneducated! Unschooled! Where Jesus saw treasures for starting businesses, organizations and churches, they pharisees saw uneducated people. The pharisees were making the mistake of thinking that scholarship is everything you need to lead. They thought that leaders needed to be scholars like their leaders where. Jesus instead looked for people with talents that matched the job of starting new ministries that he wanted to carry out.
These entrepreneurs weren’t entrepreneurs by chance. They were entrepreneurs because God designed them and gave them certain talents. It’s worth noting that Jesus himself was an entrepreneur for most of his life before he started ministry. He was a carpenter. He made products from wood and sold them to people for a profit. He worked for his father and then for himself. That is an entrepreneur. Paul also had a trade. He was a tent maker. Even though he became a full-time minister, he used those tent making skills to support his ministry. That’s also an entrepreneur.
It’s important to note that these entrepreneurial talents and designs were there before these people started their ministries. Consider a talent like singing. The talent of singing is a natural talent that you have by design. The ability to sing well has to do with many things God has given the singer including the design of her vocal cords. An excellent vocalist who sings in night clubs can the next day become born again and sing the most amazing worship songs in church. It’s the same exact talent, the same vocal chords. If you want to form an excellent worship team from unbelievers that you have led to Christ and trained, you need to target unbelievers that already have the talent for singing. It would be foolish to target those who can’t sing. Apostleship has certain talents that are there even before you are born again. Like singing, that design gets used to plant churches, start ministries and other endeavors for God when you become born again and yield to His calling. We can identify these things in ourselves and others whether they are born again or not. Yes, of course, there are spiritual gifts too. But it’s extremely unwise to set out hoping that you would get some new gift in the future unless that you were so sure God was asking you to do so. If you already have the gift and are entrepreneurial because of it, then it really doesn’t matter whether the source of your current entrepreneurial gifting is talent or gifting.
Qualities of a Person Who is Ready to Start an Organization
- Called – She has a clear calling from God.
- Calling-Driven – She is not only called but is also calling-driven. She views everything through the lenses of her calling. Jesus was an excellent example of a calling-driven person. From the age 12 when we see him at the temple, he says he is supposed to be about his father’s business. His ministry was also very calling-driven. He didn’t do anything except what God had called him to do. He didn’t say anything unless what God had called him to say.
- Character – She has grown and developed her character
- Competence – She has equipped and developed herself to be effective.
- Confidence – It takes confidence and courage to succeed. This people are confident (trust) God and themselves.
- Collaboration – Seeks to serve by collaborating with other existing organizations. Understand the value of a strong peer network and relationship building.
- Entrepreneurial – Highly entrepreneurial spirit. This person can handle changes easily, handle risks, and is a self-starter. She is a serial innovator.
- Strong Leadership Qualities & Strong People Management Skills
- Spirit- Led, Mature, and Humble.
- Salesmanship – She is very driven and can sell her vision to others.
- Passionate – She is highly self-motivated
In conclusion, starting a ministry is wonderful. However, not everyone is designed or called to do so. Most of us are designed and called to serve in an organization that is either already existing or that is being founded by someone else with us as part of the launch team.
Let me leave you with the words of Paul, the apostle who said:
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Cor. 3:6-9. Paul was referring to a church. The same thing is true for any organization. The founders and those who serve are nothing. God is everything.
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