By Jim Langley
As business and professional people, we are all involved in business dealings every day. I have been overseeing my financial services practice for more than 35 years. One question we should always ask: “Whose business is this, anyway?”
Most would proudly respond, “It’s our (my) business.” This would be a typical answer for any family-owned venture. Larger businesses are usually owned by a group of partners or a substantial number of stockholders. Often a few majority stockholders have primary control of the largest businesses.
I believe we are deluding ourselves if we feel the businesses we run belong to us. The Bible tells us who really owns everything! It’s all our heavenly Father’s, but He does allow us to oversee business affairs for a time while we are here on earth. And quite often we get to pass the business on as an inheritance to the next generation. Sooner or later, however, it all comes back to Him. It is all part of His wonderful provision! In my view, work is good and should be enjoyed. It should not be a drudgery, but to truly enjoy it, we must have the right perspective. I offer my own spiritual journey as an example.
Just months before my 40th birthday, I took a leap from corporate life into the financial services profession. Having never sold any products before, I knew this was a big risk. Yes, I had skills that made the jump easier, but there was no guarantee of success. I just knew I needed to get out of the corporate culture.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial in my thinking and somewhat of a free spirit. New York Life was willing to take the risk in training me, and 35 years later I am still giving back to the company that saw something in me that I did not know existed.
The first year in my new discipline turned out to be a true challenge. I was allowed to select a new sales manager after my first boss took over the Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A. general office, and my second manager returned to the sales force. A few months earlier I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, so I chose to work with a sales manager whom I admired for his strong Christian faith. Working with his team was an immense blessing, and later I was appointed to a sales management position.
In my fourth year, I was introduced to CBMC. Relationships formed in that international organization gave me much-needed tools and encouragement to remain strong spiritually during extremely challenging times. One of the most important lessons I learned was coming to grips with the question I asked above: Whose business is it anyway?
Volumes have been written on business success over the past few decades. Among them, for me one book stands out above all the rest: Jim Collins’ GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, which has become a modern classic in management theory. As Collins writes, business greatness does not come easy. I would add my belief that it comes from recognizing God truly owns the business – and appreciating all who work in the business, while giving God the glory for the successes that follow.
In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus tells the parable of one rich man who decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to store all the bountiful crops he had harvested. This man realized he had many good things and felt he could simply “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” In verses 20-21 Jesus warns, “But God said to him, ’You fool. This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself.’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
We need to be rich toward God and realize that all we have is His. I would recommend and strongly encourage you to seek Him and recognize His presence in all you do in business – and life in general.
© 2018, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.
1. Before reading this edition of “Monday Manna,” if someone had asked you, “Who owns your business?”, how would you have responded?
2. After reading this edition of “Monday Manna,” if someone were to ask you, “Who owns your business?”, how would you respond?
3. Do you agree with Jim Langley’s assertion that ultimately, God owns our business – as well as our work, our abilities and experience? Why or why not?
4. What difference would it make – or should it make – if someone believes that indeed, God owns their business, as well as their work and all that they do? If that is true, what does it say of our roles in our companies, whether we are top executives, in middle management roles, or assigned staff positions within the organization?
NOTE: If you would like to consider other things the Bible says about this topic, read and reflect on the following passages:
Genesis 3:22-23; Proverbs 6:12-21; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; Luke 12:16-21; James 4:13-16