I’ve been taking an interest in business entrepreneurship the last while, partly as a way of building the life I want and partly as a means of (hopefully) enabling us to return to the field. Some of my favorite podcasts have been Start up School by Seth Godin, Six Pixels by Mitch Joel, and EntreLeadership with Chris LoCurto.
I posit that we need more entrepreneurial missionaries. Lets look at what some of the essential qualities of an entrepreneur are.
An entrepreneur needs a great idea for what to sell and he also needs an idea of how he’ll structure his business. Missionaries need to zero in on a specific need that they intend to fill and have an idea how they might fill it.
Risk Taking and Realism
I think a big reason there are not more entrepreneurs is that failure is a very real possibility, and failure is something we fear. A well grounded entrepreneur realizes the possibility of failure but doesn’t let that keep him from giving his business his best shot. He accepts risk as part of the package.
Many businesses are built not over months, but years. A good entrepreneur commits to the long haul.
Not all businesses succeed. A good entrepreneur knows when to throw in the towel and move on to something better. Knowing when to quite and when to push on through is really important whether its making money or winning souls. Embracing change in strategy is also a key element.
Personal and Organizational Growth
A commitment to keep learning is essential. Failure can be a great motivator and success can be very dulling. It is said that success is the second leading cause of failure in business. Lets face it, whether in the marketplace or the culture, changes are always occurring. The great entrepreneur or missionary always keeps learning.
If your mission was a business, would it be profitable?
Today I am thinking of those of you who live in the far corners of the earth. Those of you who have left home because of a vision, a passion, a call, or simply obedience. Those of you who live where it is not comfortable. Where it is lonely. Where life can be harsh. Where darkness presses in. Where nothing is happening.
Today I am thinking of you.
Today I pray for you.
And—today I honor you. I give you my respect. I bless you.
Because you are the ones who are in it for the long haul. You are the ones who stuck it out past the first glory years. You are the ones who we at home forget. You are the ones whose faith in God and His call on you keep you where you are.
It is exciting to do short-term mission trips.
It is awesome to do a 3 week stint of teaching pastors.
Two years overseas and people still remember you, write you letters, show deep interest in your lives. You are still enjoying some honeymoon syndrome.
But today, I am very aware of you who are long term missionaries. The fun is over. People forget. You get two cards at Christmas time. No one thinks you are doing something amazing anymore. Living in the exotic land has become real life. It’s home. It’s hard. It’s alone. It’s dark.
But more than that, the most difficult part is that nothing much is happening. Not only do the people at home wonder if you are worth their money and your time, but you start to wonder the same.
There are three things in my mind.
I’m not going to get into all the whats and whys and hows of doing missions and why some are more “successful” than others. That’s not my point today.
Today I am wanting to bless you—for your obedience, your courage, and your faith.
Today I am giving honor–to them.
After having been away from the village for a little while, I mentioned to my supervisor (Collier B.) that I was looking forward to getting back into real life. I didn’t think I had said anything profound, but Collier jumped on it. He really liked that I called missionary life ‘real life’. Apparently he had experiences where people referred to his return to a day job as an entrance to ‘real life’.
For all of us, but especially us men, our self worth tends to be pretty tied up in our vocation. When I meet another man my first question is usually not whether he has children, but what he does. Our vocation is very defining.
Now for the missionary this can be awesome because being a missionary can give you the image of being courageous, spiritual, and sacrificial. What’s not to like about that list?
On the other hand, a missionary can be seen as out of touch with the for-profit world and non-macho since he doesn’t “produce” anything tangible. With the exception of tent makers, he’s not even providing for his own family. How unmanly.
So for all you missionary men out there who are not 8 to 5-ing, remember that there is no higher calling than to promote Jesus wherever God has called you. That’s real, and that’s manly.
My neighbor may be going to hell, but I just don’t feel like stopping in on the way home from work. Besides, my family needs me at home and I have important projects to complete.
Passivity is the cancer that can slowly but surely destroy our passion. Today I’d like to look at the three causes of passivity: lack of vision, lack of involvement, and lack of achievement.
A lack of vision is failing to visualize what God intends to do in a person’s life. God has plans! Too often I don’t stop to ask God what he intends to do.
A lack of involvement often occurs when there is a barrier to entry. In the case of my neighbors, I feel awkward dropping by their place. I’m not sure what we would talk about. Maybe they’ll feel patronized. So I don’t get involved. Its really easy to disconnect on an emotional level from anything we’re not involved in.
A lack of achievement is demotivating. Lets say my church has a vision to reach the people of Hutchinson, and lets say I am involved in practical acts of love like mowing lawns and painting houses. If I don’t see life change in those I’m serving, passivity creeps in.
Are you passive? Which one of these three is causing you not to care? For the sake of Jesus, would you consider visualizing, involving, or achieving in a new way?