The world is changing... fast! And, the changes are exciting, confusing, engaging, and daunting all at the same time. Probably more than at any other time in the history of Christendom, the Church needs and relies upon 'Faith Entrepreneurs' to cross the gap between the 'present' and 'future' of the Church. They are the builders, explorers and new heroes that have drawn the "Jesus line' in the sand that says to the others of us-- 'either take up the cross' or 'get out of the way'. The urgency in their voices and souls outpaces where many of our churches are willing to go or from where they are even comfortable to watch.
But, that is the story of our faith... new seasons when 'Spiritual Entrepreneurs' began running ahead of the rest to not only see what was over the next hill but to claim that space for Christ. Sure, we have made most of these folks 'acceptable' in Christian history and tradition, but in their day (and even more in ours-- if we read them correctly) these are folks living on the very tip of the spear, the edge of God's plan for what comes next. We know their names and have heard their challenges:
Moses: "I won't go until I know your name..."
Jeremiah: 'I will go but these people are not worth it...'
Jonah: I won't go, these people are not worth it, and you can't do anything about it... (then the shade falls off the plant around him)
These entrepreneurs, in their very special, unique ways, changed the course of history, and made way for the next voices...
Mary: 'I am scared and I am blessed... This baby will be named Jesus'
Peter: "I want to walk on water with you (just before he sank), I won't let them take you (just before Jesus heals the wound of the soldier Peter attacks; I won't every abandon you (just before the cock crows the third time)
Paul: 'In my weakness, I am strong... When I was unsettled, Jesus saved me... I can do all things for the one who strengthens me...
And, Jesus: 'Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.
These voices seem deeper, more impactful than the voices around them-- and with good reason.
Over the last few weeks, I have been reading a host of articles and journals talking about the 'new age of entrepreneurs' in our world. More and more people strike out on their own to explore and discover, not just what is 'out there' but, more importantly, 'what is in here'. Over the last twenty years, some of the most important creations have happened by the least of those normally suspected in the places never considered, at a time seemingly unaware. But, now we can't live without the Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebooks landing by our sides on digital devices everywhere.
I n my readings, I wanted to know if there were any traits that those who made entrepreneurship seem easy had in common. Quick enough, I began to see patterns emerge for those who did this work best. Certainly, there are exceptions and not all entrepreneurial leaders possessed every trait, but when they didn't have a particular gift... what do you know? They go find someone to walk with them who do.
The church must support our entrepreneurs, both lay and clergy, in the next season... it will not only create the places and ministries that will continue to change the world, but this support and help will galvanize the inner values of the Body itself, where a young Jewish carpenter untraveled or known outside of Palestine dared to change the world forever.
Here are the common traits we have seen:
1. They build relationships: I was reminded lately that even The "LONE" Ranger needed Tonto. We live in a world intimately connected. The best leaders understand this in their bones.
2. They Speak Passionately but as One Informed On Behalf of their Mission: Don King loves these types... they are promoters who believe the 'fight' will be a knockout worth seeing.
3. They love learning new things: Contentment breeds ambivalence which increases vulnerability to unhealthy decisions and patterns-- so they keep learning, testing, pushing until the new becomes normal-- and then they start over.
4. Interdependent: Understanding the tension between knowing what they can do on their own and where they are absolutely unqualified to move forward alone defines these folks and the projects at key levels.
5. Creativity and Confidence: Realizing that these two seemingly different qualities are intricately tied together for doing significant things.
6. Delegation and Determination: Once again, two concepts far apart in the world's standards that must live in the same sphere of influence for spiritual entrepreneurs. 'I am not enough but I know who is...' is more than a mantra for the spiritual world... Think of a Steve Job who found Steve Wozniak-- not to be friends but to shore up the places he didn't know enough to be successful.
7. Alignment: More than 'focus'-- 'alignment' takes focus to another level by converging goals, people and values together behind great ideas and even greater adventures.
8. Rational Optimism: The world calls this risk; people of faith call it 'action'-- words can generate only so much effect.
9. Collaboration and Community: Success always has another chapter and significance always has a silent partner... In the end, who will know 'first' when you change the world?
Think about these things... comment. This is a conversation our world needs. Blessings and peace.
Be Salt and Light, my friends... You Matter!
Matthew 5: 13-16
Shane Stanford is a pastor, teacher and author committed to sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with the world.