The scripture presents us with evidences that a man of God could actually do business, but much more excel in it. DCN ISAAC UMELO reports
Can a man of God do business? This is a question that can only be answered in the positive, if we are able to follow the common definitions of relevant words contained in the expression. The woman of Samaria described Jesus as a prophet by perception. The woman of Shunem (in 2 Kings 4 vs9) said to Elisha “I perceive you are a holy man of God”, so a man of God is evident to all, believers or not. He is one who by belief, persuasion, activity and conviction is labelled by all as God’s instrument. He must be spoken as such by witnesses from inside and outside the church.
Business is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “any activity of selling, buying, supplying services in the exchange for money”. Is it therefore right for the anointed men of God to be engaged in making money? The answer is no doubt in the affirmative but with qualification. Yes, if the man doesn’t use his godly attributes to exploit a congregation for the purpose of self-enrichment.
The most famous examples in the bible of men of God who did business are Abraham and St Paul of Tarsus. Abraham had a skill in warfare but never sold it for money. After conquering a confederacy with his own servants and freeing his cousin Lot, he refused to share in the spoils of war. However, he used his agrarian and animal husbandry skills to amass stupendous wealth. He left legacies to his son Isaac.
Paul on the other hand was endowed with oratorical skills for the purpose of being an apologist for the Gospel. Many times he faced kings and minions and persuaded effectively with the Gospel. He never sold his motivational talents nor made demands on those he served even though he posited that it was expected that “those who serve the Gospel must eat from the Gospel”.
For himself, he engaged in tent making, a trade he learnt as a youth, to care for his physical needs.
Situations of over 2000 years ago are not the same as today. No one expects a preacher in Nigeria to trek the length and breadth of Africa to bring the Gospel to the lost souls. The experience of the woman of Zaraphat, who is historically associated as the wife of Obadiah does not speak well of a man of God who dies in penury leaving his family in bondage.
Obadiah pawned his estate to cater secretly for 100 prophets of God whom Jezebel hounded. But he forgot other injunctions that the “he who does not provide for his family has lost the faith and is worse than an infidel”.
We agree that a man of God can do business but what, where or how of the business should be of concern. Those who traded in the temple and were flogged by our Lord also were worshippers whose priorities were skewed. Simon the sorcerer accepted the message of the apostles but with his vicious intensions to make it personal gain.
Today, the man of God can engage in business that will not bring conflict between him and the laws of the land or one where he’ll need to engage those he cannot control. The present imbroglio about the transportation of $9.3m to South Africa is a case in point. Owning a plane and renting it out is in itself no offence; but see the attacks and insinuations it has brought to the Body. Everything is legal but not all things are expedient.
The man of God must consider vicarious responsibility if his own business decision makes a taint on the ministry. Ignorance, they say is no defence. I believe such engagements as writing books, inventing items, and teaching special skills to those worthy of the knowledge are businesses a man of God should engage in. Same goes for trading in honest stocks and in activities where one’s holiness can impact on.
One of the most read books outside the bible is “THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE” by Rick Warren. At the last count, it has been bought by over 20
million people. The book is bible based and has made the author many time a millionaire. But the book has imparted many lives positively and the author’s income is invested in helping the poor of the world by providing food and shelter.
The man of God must discriminate in his business partnership. The same command not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever holds for business partnerships. Many men of God have been pulled down by yoking with unwholesome business partners to the embarrassment of the flock. Here of course faith and prayer is the only amour.
Where will the business be based? It’s clear that installing a business monopoly in the premises of a church or mixing it with church programs brings conflict. It is even worse where a business is in competition with either the affairs of the church or those of membership. Sooner or later, the line between the heavenly and earthly disappears. It’s often convenient to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our good intentions. But that is not God’s way.
Another challenge in business which the man of God must contend with is in the area of staff management. The bible compares farm horses to company staff. We must not bridle the mouth of the horse that ploughs the field. It is often attractive for Christian employers of labour to wave religion on the faces of their staff with the excuse that reward is in heaven.
A man of God in business must be a leader in fair wages and best practices. He must project the Gospel of our Lord in the way he treats staff and their families, so that the outsiders will through his action desire what he has in Christ.
Corporate social responsibility is now in vogue and any man of God in business must care for the environment he operates in. I believe CSR should go with Corporate Spiritual Responsibility. People the business deals with must feel the impact of the Holy Spirit in it.
The man Job, who God boasted about to Satan, had this to say of himself in verses of Job 31:
“if I have despised the cause of my male or female servants…if I had kept the poor from his desire or caused the eyes of the widow to fail… if I have made gold my hope or said to fine gold, “You are my confidence”….. Then let thistles grow instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley in my fields…”
May the curses Job speaks of never be the lot of any man of God in business. May his business finance the Kingdom vision eternally.
-originally published in the Power In The Word