Published on 9 March 2021
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
As Christians, it is often tempting to separate our work life from our spiritual life, or put another way, our business world from our church world. I speak to business people regularly who are unsure of how these two worlds should intersect. It is my conviction that when God calls a person to the ministry of business—the higher calling of every Christian businessperson that extends far beyond the acquisition of wealth for personal gain— the two should not be separated.
The Apostle Paul was called by God to oversee an incredible ministry, yet at the same time, he was also a great businessman. Paul didn't give up his business venture when he started serving Jesus. Instead, this entrepreneurial, tent-making enterprise was a key element of his apostolic ministry. The two actually worked in harmony, supporting each other to ultimately allow Paul to live out the call of God on his life in its entirety. The only difference between this great apostle and the average Christian businessperson grappling with this dilemma today, is found in their thinking. Our thinking determines who we are which in turn, affects what we do. Ultimately, our success in Christian business leadership is directly linked to the way that we think.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The Bible tells us that as Christians, we have become heirs with Christ and as such, are expected to think differently.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
An heir to a natural fortune requires a different level of thinking to that of a child who does not expect to receive anything (orphan mindset). The same is true in the spiritual. Along with the privilege of inheritance, comes the responsibility to steward that inheritance in a way that honours the one who has gifted it to us. While as Christians, most of us understand that we are children of a King, with maturity, we must begin thinking like that King in order to prepare for the moment when we are called to step up and rule over our assigned realm.
It’s time to start thinking like a king!
There are 3 distinct ways that kings think, that set them apart from the average person:
1. Authority is received and not taken.
Some Christians miss the critical revelation that when they gave their life to Jesus, they were grafted into His bloodline and became heirs of an incredible inheritance with Him. Because they do not recognize the inheritance and authority that has been transferred into their name, they often feel the need to aggressively fight for territory that they have already been gifted.There is a stark difference between those who have a conquest mindset (the subjugation and assumption of control by force) vs those who have a dominion mindset (to take charge and rule over) in the business arena, and it is the mindset we choose that tells the story of which King we are seeking to represent in every area of our lives!
So often society teaches us to practise business with a mindset that more closely mimics that of a tyrannical emperor of centuries past, than that of a king. Lured into a ‘dog eat dog’ game, we are often prepared to fight our way ahead to conquer new territories and climb the corporate ladder— plundering the opposition and justifying all means of achieving the final goal. Worse still, some do this in the name of making money for the Kingdom of God.
A true king does not think like this.
A prince is born knowing that he will one day become a king. He doesn’t need to keep a constant eye on the competition or prepare himself to take the kingdom by force. He lives with the certainty and security of knowing that regardless of who surrounds him or challenges his authority, he WILL inherit the kingdom at the right time, simply because he is the child of a king and his destiny has been sealed in blood.
A prince has a firm understanding that his authority is not determined by who he is by nature or what he can achieve in his own right, but rather, who his father is. There is no benefit for the child of a King to fight or strive for that which is already his by birthright. He is free to dream of his rulership to come and develop his character, gifts and talents in preparation for the day that he is called to step up into his predetermined destiny.
As Christian businesspeople, having a kingly mindset means preparing ourselves to receive what God has already promised us—dominion and rulership in our assigned territory of the marketplace. It is a mindset of faith that doesn’t push us to strive in our own strength to make it happen, but instead, actively prepare ourselves, stewarding our gifts and talents well so that we are ready to seize God-given opportunities as they present themselves in the perfect timing of God.
2. True worth is not defined by net worth.
A king’s position is not dependent on what he possesses at any given time.
Many of us are living with driving thoughts that we have to work harder, position ourselves better and connect with the right people if we have any hope of succeeding in business.
The reality is, a king never really owns anything personally. He is mandated with the rulership of a kingdom and as a result, has access to any resource within that kingdom that he will ever need to support his rulership. If for any reason, he lost the possessions of the kingdom, he would not cease to be its king. As a result, he does not place undue importance on the sum of his possessions at any given time, because they do not define who he is.The only thing that defines who he is, is who his father is—the bloodline that he is a part of.
There is nothing wrong with acquiring wealth and possessions. These are natural by-products of successful stewardship of the business you have been called to. However, feelings of security and identity that result from acquiring wealth are transient, fragile and unreliable.
Monarchies survive for generations, overcoming recessions, disasters and trials of many kinds that see their wealth rise and fall. As long as there is someone carrying royal DNA, the bloodline remains secure and rulership is certain.
In the same way, regardless of the trials that come to plunder our wealth at any given time, as Christian businesspeople, we can remain secure in our rulership and full of faith that a more fruitful season lies ahead. In fact, I have learned that it is in the seasons of loss and perceived failure, that true leadership is refined and strengthened—ushering in even greater gains. We must approach our rulership in the business arena with consistency and determination in the face of adversity—knowing that we are called to live lives of destiny and significance that are not dependent on our resource stockpiles on any given day!
3. Make learning, not achieving— the focus.
The ultimate achievement of a future king’s life— his crown (authority)— is guaranteed from the beginning.
When a royal baby is expected, a nation waits with great anticipation—throughout the entire pregnancy— to see the ‘chosen one’ finally revealed. Before he has even taken his first breath and had any opportunity to prove himself or achieve anything in his own right, he is already revered. His destiny has been determined. He will rule, period.
With this as his reality, a young prince doesn’t need to seek out or earn the accolades, respect and admiration of the people. His one job is to prepare himself to rule well, when his moment arrives. This is the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being born into royalty.
Revelations 22:13 tells us that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. As heirs of His Kingdom with Him, we must live in the security of knowing that, just like a natural prince, our destiny to rule is guaranteed. The same God who first called us to the Ministry of Business, will see us through to the end.
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is from this place of absolute security in God’s endgame for our life, that we allow ourselves to embrace seasons of preparation without being distracted by thoughts of seizing what has already been promised to us— forcefully and prematurely.
God’s job is to declare what we shall be and to provide all of the resource necessary to make it happen. Our job is to learn how to be what God has already declared we shall be so that we are ready to step into the place where His Word is fulfilled in our lives.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
When I was young, I used to run in the 400m event and there was one crucial rule that we were taught very early on; stay in your lane or be disqualified. As a Christian businessperson, this is very good advice to apply to every area of your life.The only way to achieve the ultimate goal of ‘winning’ is to identify the lane you have been assigned to, stay within its boundaries and then run as fast as you can!
Today’s world of business is obsessed with networking. At its core, networking is built on the principle that the more people we connect with, the greater our odds of achieving success in business. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In spreading ourselves thin in the name of ‘covering all bases’, we often fail to excel at anything at all.
Our ‘lane’ is the area we are gifted in— your God-given domain to rule. The successful rule of a king and the prosperity of his people, lies within the boundaries of his assigned kingdom. Kings who focus their energy, resources and attention in places beyond their jurisdiction, neglect their primary calling and ultimately fail those who rely on their covering and leadership.
Christian business people who buy into the worldview that they must keep their options open, often neglect the core business to which they have been called, anointed, gifted and resourced.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
The greatest business leaders are those that know their lane and plant themselves in it, developing their craft to the place where they become experts in their field and influential role-models in the marketplace. Such people stand strong in the face of trials and shifting sands, remaining committed to the vision, productive and reliable throughout the different seasons of their business life. They are not intimidated by the success of others or tempted to wander into another lane during less profitable times. They are committed to overcoming the problems that arise and block their lane rather than looking for easy ways to go around them.
So often, I have seen good businesspeople wander from their ‘lane’ because they were weary, fearful or discouraged. Ultimately, they disqualified themselves from finishing the race and taking the prize —authority and dominion in their assigned portion of the marketplace. This is an avoidable tragedy.
Staying power is a defining characteristic of good Christian leadership in every arena of life. The Bible assures us that seasons will always be coming and going in life, so sometimes it is simply our determination to refuse to leave our lane and the race—no matter how tempted we may be to wander away— that sees us successfully through to a greater season lying just around the corner.
God has promised to provide all of the resources needed to accompany our calling, but there is no such promise when it comes to chasing the calling of another. Our unique lane is the place of provision and success so the sooner we discover it, the sooner we move forward into our destiny and calling.
Once our thinking begins to line up with the thinking of a king and our focus is firmly set on preparing ourselves and honing our gifts for our unique calling, we position ourselves to reflect the Glory of God within the realm of our influence. God’s Glory is His character on display for all to see and it is both a great privilege and responsibility to reflect who He is to a lost world, in the way that we live our lives.
One of my roles at Planetshakers is to oversee the business side of our music ministry. While there have been many spectacular musical performances in my shower, it’s safe to say that I lack musical prowess. You could say that music is NOT my lane, yet I am surrounded by incredibly gifted musicians on a daily basis.
As I recount in my book Think Like a King, I remember being in a prayer meeting with BJ Pridham a few years ago. BJ writes some of our songs and on this particular day, he was rostered on to play the keyboard for our prayer meeting. The Presence of God was thick that particular day and as I looked over at BJ, I noticed him staring with what appeared to be—disinterest— across the room. As I walked past him, he caught me watching him and said, “I’m getting a song.” At that, I encouraged him to continue and left. A few days later, I was standing in church during worship, overwhelmed by the Presence of God as we sung a new song. It was beautiful and opened the atmosphere to a powerful move of the Holy Spirit. After the service, I asked around and was informed that the song that had so greatly moved me, was the song that BJ had ‘received’ during the prayer meeting just a few days earlier.
You see, both myself and BJ were in the prayer meeting that day and both felt the Presence of God. Yet it was BJ and not me who received a song from Heaven. I completely missed it. Why did God speak to BJ? Because he was positioned and ready to receive the resource to accompany his calling.
BJ is very skilled at his craft; he understands music theory, tuning and tempo, and plays several instruments . Since he was a child, BJ has trained in music, attended lessons, practiced scales and refined his craft. He understands who he is, has identified his gift and has held true to his ‘lane’. When God was looking to download a song that would release his Glory, BJ was a vessel, ready, positioned and prepared to receive it.
I have learned that the very same is true in business. When we commit ourselves to refining and excelling in our God-given gifts and talents, we position ourselves to ‘receive’ the ideas, strategies and inventions needed to propel us forward and into the fulness of our destiny. These are no ordinary ideas, but ones that carry the Glory of Heaven and leave people amazed and curious about our Source. We become carriers of God’s Glory as it is downloaded from Heaven, showing God’s nature to a world that desperately needs to know him.
It is our choice whether or not we wish to remain operating in the ‘realm’ of man-made success, or whether we position ourselves to tap into Heaven’s resourse and in so doing, show off our glorious God!
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.
Often we get so caught up dreaming about the endgame— that glorious moment that a song we have written is finally played on the big stage or that picture of a thriving and successful business dominating the marketplace and bringing ongoing wealth into our lives—that we avoid the mundane,repetitive and methodical process of developing our skills and preparing ourselves during the season that precedes this success that God has promised us.
If BJ had the desire and call to write songs, but passively ‘hoped’ they would just happen without diligently refining his musical skills while he waited, he would not have had the ability to interpret the download from Heaven when it came. God couldn’t give me that song in because I had not done the necessary groundwork to accommodate the gift when it came. I’m sure there were moments in BJ’s life where he despised practising scales and felt like nothing would ever come of his unseen efforts, yet, the Lord saw it all and rewarded his diligent preparation.
When we truly understand that we are heirs of a great inheritance—dominion and rulership in a given domain, then we must embrace a patient and diligent approach to preparing for our ‘for such a time as this moment’ in history. Every great king is first a child, called and destined for greatness, yet unprepared for the task at hand.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.
His preparation is gradual, systematic and at times tedious, yet he must persevere and persist so that he is ready to take his place. In his immaturity, he will inevitably want to run from his responsibility or take hold of his privilege too early. But until the father declares it his TIME, he will not be ready to receive the gift of authority that was prepared for him before he was even born.
To every businessperson who is reading this, please do not despise small beginnings when you feel like you are simply going through the mundane motions of business life and taking small, practice steps towards a dream that seems so far away. Please do not give up when it gets tough, when progress is slow or when tempted to jump out of your God-given lane to pursue something which appears more appealing and gratifying in the moment. Be grateful for the gifts and talents God has given you and steward them to the best of your ability as you wait for the timing of God. Seek to be the best in your field so that you will be a worthy vessel for God to use to display His Glory at the moment of His choosing. Remember that it was David’s musical excellence—perfected in the loneliness of shepherding, that facilitated entrance into his journey of ultimate Kingship and destiny.
Displaying God’s Glory in the arena of influence in which we are created to rule and reign, is our ultimate destiny as Christian businesspeople. Nothing can stand in the way of this destiny except our own limited thinking. If you desire to truly be great for God in the marketplace, it’s time to challenge your thinking and build your life around the profound revelation that you are of the bloodline of Jesus Christ and born for nothing less than greatness.
Think Like a King by Neil Smith is now available in printed copy and digital format. Get your copy now!
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