16 Jan unless the lord builds this…
Whether you work for a large organization, a small company or your own business, all of us are called to strive for excellence as Colossians 3:23 reminds us: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”; for ultimately, our efforts in business are presented to God.
This is a theological cornerstone of how God created us to function in the marketplace. However, our desire for excellence and success can subtly shift how we view the tasks before us. If God commands our best, we may misunderstand that God demands a certain measure of accomplishment . . . which could eventually deceive us that our work is up to us alone. Yes, the marketplace measures success by the bottom line, but we might create a dual problem if that mindset takes hold.
First, if we achieve success defined by the world’s standards, we may begin thinking too highly of ourselves (but of course thank God as we do). God opposes this kind of pride. Second, if we struggle or fail to meet our goals (even while diligently pursuing excellence) we may begin to assume that God has withheld His blessing—or worse, does not really love us–at least not as much as our competitor, who is crushing it.
My friend, Rob Dixon, owns a thriving business in Nashville. Several years ago he shared about a low point, a few years prior, when he was facing a great deal of uncertainty about leading his company. God brought him to a crisis of faith until he began meditating on Psalm 127: “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:1-2
Rob began to recognize that this passage not only spoke about his family, but also his business. After that, he began to think and pray and apply Psalm 127 more broadly: “Unless the Lord builds my business, I am busting my tail and working around the clock for nothing. Unless the Lord is watching over all that I am responsible for, I am just spinning my wheels and creating additional and unnecessary anxiety for myself. God is so powerful and gracious that He can grow my business while I’m sleeping.” This exercise led Rob to a new resolve to hand over to God the keys to his company. Several years later, he continues to share how that experience became a turning point in both his personal life and his business.
Does God require our best efforts? Absolutely. Are we supposed to pursue excellence and “work our tails off”? Yes. We are to offer up to God all of our dreams, our ambitions and our labor. Ultimately, that’s the only way we can experience rest . . . by leaving the final results up to Him. I’m thankful to Rob and to God for the lessons all of us can draw from this.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Father in Heaven, with a little or with a lot, You have always been gracious and faithful to provide for my family and my business—yes, even as I’m sleeping. I am asking You to give me more of the kind of rest that produces genuine peace and joy in my soul. Dear Lord, unless You build my business, all of my sacrifice and labor is a futile exercise. I give you the reins of my mind and heart today. Grant me the faith to count on You alone for every opportunity, deal and dollar of revenue so I can concentrate on joyfully serving Your purposes, and the clients and customers You send my way. Every night, when my head hits the pillow, will you give me more than sleep? Please send me the true rest and peace that comes from a deep trust in Your plans and a deep desire for your glory. Amen.
“God owns my business, and God owns me. I have every confidence He will take good care of His property!” Stanley Tam, Inventor
“My business is my mission field.” Rob Dixon, Servpro–Nashville, Tennessee
ADDITIONAL REFLECTIONS: A New Kind of Stand