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The Kingdom Entrepreneur by Jonathan Shibley

Recently the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) put out an article entitled: “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition”. Their objectives were to define and classify genuine social entrepreneurship.

The article was very intriguing and informative. Although written from a non-Biblical worldview context, many of their points had correlation with Kingdom principles.

For instance, social entrepreneurship strives for social change or transformation. Kingdom economics is all about getting the life of Christ integrated into the patterns of this world so that genuine change can occur.

The very essence or meaning of the word “entrepreneur” was termed by Jean-Baptiste Say in the 19th century. It is one who “shifts economic resources from lower to higher productivity or yield”. Sound familiar? How about when Jesus spoke of the parable of the talents in Luke 19. The familiar charge of the Master to “do business until I come” urged resourcefulness, creativity, and productive yield. The Master honored and rewarded those who produced given the opportunity and rebuked the one who gave no genuine effort.

SSIR goes on to tout the innate entrepreneurial quality of “alertness” as one of the chief critical abilities. Interesting that God’s word picks up on this quality. God honors problem solvers and those who see the redemptive opportunities within evil or broken systems and situations. Ephesians 5:15-16 admonishes us to “be careful how we live, being wise to make the most of every opportunity”. 1 Peter 1:13 challenges us to “prepare our minds for action”. Certainly the successful Kingdom entrepreneur lives in this reality of alertly seeking for opportunities to advance God’s work on the earth.

The characteristics of entrepreneurs drive them towards refusing to accept suboptimal status quo, thus creating better solutions that will result in new realities. Paul in Romans 12 urges us not to be conformed to the world’s patterns, but transformed by the renewing of our minds. Kingdom entrepreneurs are seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance to align with Father God and the Son in bringing His purposes to the Earth and breaking the works or patterns of darkness. God’s creative genius finds outlets through His business partners to splash life, hope, restoration and peace into the world that will bring Him glory.

SSIR listed other key characteristics of entrepreneurs such as inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage and fortitude. One could spend days preaching the Godly nature of these characteristics and both Biblical and modern day examples of Christ-followers who portrayed these character traits.

When it came around to defining social entrepreneurship motives of the heart came into play. Regular entrepreneurs typically seek some type of personal profit from their ventures (which is not a bad thing). Social entrepreneurs were defined as those whose motives transcended financial profit to large-scale transformational benefit that impacts lives heightens social impact. The target sector of the social entrepreneur are the largely neglected, disadvantaged or underserved who need someone from the outside to boost them beyond suboptimal realities. In many ways the Kingdom entrepreneur seeks to do the same by displaying the life of the King into all situations. The Kingdom entrepreneur understands that all who are outside of Christ are living in a suboptimal situation which necessitates the importance of bringing as many people out of darkness into the Kingdom of light. In addition, the Kingdom entrepreneur looks for ways to best utilize his talents, giftings and strengths to glorify God. If money can be made in a way that will lift people and generate Kingdom inertia, the Kingdom entrepreneur is attracted to such opportunities.

The ultimate aim of social and Kingdom entrepreneurs is that their influence and activity will set off a chain reaction of positive momentum resulting in social transformation. Many times the entrepreneur is the first to break barriers, causing others to think outside the box and offer similar or better solutions, all the while benefiting from the path paved by the original pioneer. The Kingdom entrepreneur realizes this to be a good thing and that his original contribution although powerful, will be exponentially magnified by others following suite and playing off the original idea or strategy.

I believe God is raising up Kingdom entrepreneurs worldwide who will inject Jesus into suboptimal situations for large scale impact. This will take place in the form of businesses and new strategies that the Church has not seen. Who else is better suited than the Kingdom entrepreneurs to generate massive amounts of trapped capital for Kingdom purposes?

The primary distinction between the social entrepreneur and the Kingdom entrepreneur is this: The end goal for the Kingdom entrepreneur is getting people to Jesus on a large scale so He can transform their lives. While social entrepreneurs do many wonderful things that will improve qualities of life and culture for many, their focus typically is not eternal. The Kingdom entrepreneur seeks to help humanity on many fronts but the primary importance is to help usher people into the Kingdom and the Kingdom of God into society. When the life of Jesus is injected into a person or culture, there is a lifting process which brings dignity, creativity, order, justice, righteousness, peace, and ultimate prosperity.

In short, a Kingdom entrepreneur uses his God-given strengths, talents and abilities to capture opportunities that will both loosen trapped capital and lift people and cultures out darkness or suboptimal reality into God’s Kingdom of light. The Kingdom entrepreneur looks for creative ways to display the majesty of Christ, thus impacting people for His glory. The primary concern is the eternal condition of men’s hearts followed by ways to help solve problems and create solutions for the betterment of man and society.

Thank God for social entrepreneurs. Let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest to raise up more Kingdom entrepreneurs who take social entrepreneurship one step further: Advancing the Kingdom of God.

Jonathan Shibley serves as vice president of Global Advance. His primary focus is directing the Marketplace Missions program for equipping business leaders in developing nations. He also is engaged in international business. Before joining Global Advance, he earned a business degree from Baylor University and served with Promise Keepers and Teen Mania. Jonathan and his wife, Sarah, have three children.

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posted by Justin Forman | 3.15.2009 - 12:02 AM

2 Comments:

Great post Jonathan! You touch on some very important points that should be important to any Christian business owner. The following paragraph in particular, really complements the core belief behind my own blog.

"I believe God is raising up Kingdom entrepreneurs worldwide who will inject Jesus into suboptimal situations for large scale impact. This will take place in the form of businesses and new strategies that the Church has not seen. Who else is better suited than the Kingdom entrepreneurs to generate massive amounts of trapped capital for Kingdom purposes?"

I am going to link to your post from a few complementing posts on my blog so that my readers can be encouraged and built up by your words. Thanks once again for your great piece.

http://bldngthewall.blogspot.com/2009/01/christian-capitalism.html

http://bldngthewall.blogspot.com/2009/02/temporary-post.html
commented by Blogger CruxG, 9:58 AM  

I have pondered the similarities between social entrepreneurs and Kingdom entrepreneurs and your post is very enlightening. In summary, all social entrepreneurs are not Kingdom entrepreneurs, but I believe that all Kingdom entrepreneurs should be social entrepreneurs who transform their communities with the power and authority of the risen King.
commented by Anonymous Audrey Wyatt, 9:47 AM  

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