How much thought have you given to what drives you in your business endeavors? If you are a Christ-follower, I hope you’ve spent a good deal of time on the subject.

Jesus spoke an enormous amount about personal motives. Here’s a short-list:

  • Mathew 6:21  – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • Mark 4:18-19 – They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

  • 1 John 2:15-16 –  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

All three of those scriptures are powerful, but the last one hits me hard. It IS possible that the things that drive me are in opposition to what God intends or desires for my life.

That should make us think twice. It should cause us to shudder at the thought that we could be engaged daily in the pursuit of things that are displeasing to God.

So much of the business world nowadays, and especially the internet business community, is aimed at gaining attention.

gaining attention

  • We’re given tips on effective self-promotion
  • We’re encouraged to establish personal notoriety by establishing a platform
  • We are encouraged to become an “expert” in the eyes of others
  • We are actively coached on how to develop a “success” mindset

I truly understand what is behind each of these, and don’t have anything negative to say about them, for what they are. Each one has an element of “common sense” when it comes to getting your product or service before the eyes of those who could most benefit from it. It’s marketing, pure and simple. Only today, much of what is being marketed is not just a product, but the people behind them.

It’s called “personal branding” and it’s the new way of garnering attention in the 21st century business world.

On one hand, it’s a very good thing, because people truly do respond better to a person instead of a sales pitch. It’s about establishing trust rather than only engaging in a transaction. Long term relationships can be built rather than one-time purchases. That’s better for everyone involved. It’s a more “human” way of doing business, and I like it.

But there is a dangerous side to personal branding too, at least for me.

And I believe that if we Christian business folks aren’t careful, we will destroy ourselves with it.

I know, I know… it’s just business. It’s how things are done.

personal brandingBut as believers in Christ, is that supposed to be our default mindset? Are we supposed to be falling in line with personal branding, personal promotion, and expert status just because “that’s how it’s done?”

I question that mentality, because I know that my primary goal is to be seeking the kingdom of God, and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). I am to love God with all that I am (Mark 12:30). My mind is to be set on heavenly things, first and foremost (Colossians 3:2). When those heart convictions come into contact with today’s business mindsets, I wind up asking a very important question…

Can I seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, love God with all that I am, have my mind set on heavenly things, and still pursue business success along the lines that are popular today?

I’m sure it’s possible, but I struggle to know how.

Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect there are more of my Christian brothers and sisters who struggle with the exact same thing. That’s because when I pursue personal branding and promotion, I am led down a path that can become very damaging to my soul.

My soul is already puffed up with selfish interests. My heart is already too consumed with making a name for myself.

How prudent is it for me to intentionally put myself in a place where those struggles will be encouraged all the more?

It’s like an alcoholic working at a liquor store. It simply doesn’t seem wise.

Yet, it is where the LORD has put me. I am an entrepreneur.

  • I possess an innate drive to work independently, free of a corporate structure.
  • The LORD has made me creative, so I love to develop new things.
  • I’ve been given gifts to teach, coach, help, and build up others, in their business and in their personal life.
  • And I love doing all of it.

I don’t want to push any of those things away. I don’t believe it is right for me to neglect my gifts, even though using them effectively may mean that I am continually in a state of tension between God-given gifting and self-serving ambition. And I don’t believe the tension with promoting a “personal brand” should keep me from pursuing what is best for my clients in the long run.

I’m learning that the tension I feel is a good thing.

The things that drive me, even when they flow from a selfish place initially, are God’s gift to me, just as much as my talents and drive for success.

They are a gift because they put me in a place of contemplation, a place where I must fight to once again humble myself under the hand of my Creator.

  • In that place, I am forced to learn how to trust Him, rather than the business philosophies of the day.
  • I am sometimes prompted not to engage in the business practices of the day, for the sake of trusting my God all the more.
  • I am forced to humble myself under His mighty hand, that I may be lifted up in due time, as He deems best (1 Peter 5:6).

either or choiceI know it’s not always an “either / or” scenario.

But for me, sometimes it is. That’s my point.

If I find myself in a place where the “common sense” business practices of the day put me in mindset that will make me more reliant on myself than I am on my God, I must refuse the business practices of the day. Even if it looks like doing so will cost me business. Even if it means that I’ll miss some opportunities. Even if it means my business efforts will grow more slowly than I’d like. Even if it seems counter-intuitive all the way around.

I’ve learned that it’s in those places that my God shines the brightest. It is the place He does miracles, not always in circumstances, but most assuredly, in me.

To wrap up… here’s a video of a song that gives me great strength and incredible hope about where my firm foundation really is. Please listen to these powerful words, and set your heart on Christ alone. This is what I want to drive me, it’s what I want to drive you.  Be blessed.