How to Start a Business With Christian Business Ethics

Hands folded in prayer over a Holy bible on wooden table on grey background
Hands folded in prayer over a Holy bible on wooden table on grey background

Each of us is born with unique God-given gifts and talents. Our gifts are expressed through hobbies, how we spend our free time, and through our choice of vocation. So, what happens when you are called to use your strengths and talents to start your own business? How do you continue to honor the Lord along the rocky road of business ownership?

When an individual makes the decision to start a business, he or she believes there is value in, and a need for, the goods or services to be provided. Taking on the massive challenge of starting a business — the financial risks involved and vast amounts of time and dedication needed — requires a sizable leap of faith. It’s faith, along with vision, that propels the entrepreneurs among us to forge ahead when others hold back.

“The entrepreneurial process begins when a person has a vision for a better world and the faith that he can bring that about,” explains Dr. Brian Baugus for Institute for Faith, Works and Economics. Blind faith, Baugus adds, without any evidence that the entrepreneur can make his dream a reality, is a biblical trait.

How do Christians honor God while working to get their business off the ground? Your business is your way to serve.

Starting a business is filled with seemingly insurmountable challenges. When the road gets rough, relying on the words of scripture keeps you grounded. Small business expert Melinda Emerson reminds entrepreneurs to first consider their business venture as a way to serve. “Making money will come second. It’s about give to get,” Emerson explains. “Listen for an opportunity to give first.” Emerson points to the inspiring words of 1 Peter 4:10: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Remember from whom all blessings flow.

Establishing and running a business requires confidence, and, some would argue, the self-assurance entrepreneurs need can turn into arrogance and self-reliance. “It certainly takes confidence to be successful in business but you must always remember from whom all blessings flow,” notes Emerson. “God has given you the talent and ability to make money, and that should keep you humble.” Lean on the scriptures to stay grounded. A reminder to remain modest is stated in Deuteronomy 8:18: But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Honor God with hard work.

God calls on His people to work hard and not squander the talents and strengths He has provided. Author Pete Miller of Share Faith points out that all the noble men and women of the Bible were hard-working — in fact, many were working when they were called by God.

“Joseph was the keeper of the prison, then the Pharaoh's second in command. Gideon was threshing wheat and Ruth gleaned wheat in the field. Elisha was plowing with a team of oxen when Elijah called him, and Amos worked as a herdsman. Peter, James and John were fishermen and Luke was a physician,” notes Miller. And Lydia was a successful businesswoman who sold quality purple cloth. Again and again throughout scripture, God calls busy people. Romans 12:11 states: Do not be lazy but always work hard. Work for the Lord with a heart full of love for Him. Miller chooses this passage to demonstrate that slothful behavior is condemned while conscientiousness and desire to do the best work is celebrated. “Becoming outstanding in an occupation, whatever profession it may be, is always a worthy goal. God notices,” says Miller.

Be honest. Be ethical.

The right way to solve a customer’s problem may not always be the most profitable for the business owner; when honoring God through our business remains our central motivation rather than profit, we won’t ever turn away from our biblical work ethics. Mark 8:36 says: For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

Give thanks and give back.

Starting a business isn’t for the weak of heart. When hard work pays off and success is realized, it’s all too easy to forget who to thank for providing the blessings of courage and perseverance. Remember to give thanks and honor to the Lord. Giving back to God shows both your gratitude for and acknowledgement of His gifts, and also demonstrates your continued faith that the Lord will continue to provide and lead. Proverbs 3: 9-10 says: Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest, then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Keep praying.

Reaching a triumphant milestone like achieving your first profitable year, or serving your 100th customer, doesn’t mean the conversations with God should stop. Keep the lines of communication with Him open at all times. Continue to be grateful, keep asking for guidance and always listen. God gives the best advice.

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