Entrepreneur: Don't worship work
From an article by Faith Driven Entrepreneur
Many of entrepreneurs pursued their work to find a sense of satisfaction, meaning, and significance. Eventually, though, we all realize we can’t find those things there. Unfortunately, for many, by the time they realize it, the damage has been done. Consider these sobering statistics (from the USA):
Entrepreneurs are two times more likely to suffer from depression.
Entrepreneurs are three times more likely to battle some form of substance abuse.
Entrepreneurs are two times more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Entrepreneurs are two times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric problems.
There’s a cost to placing all of our time, energy, and efforts exclusively in one place. Entrepreneurship, even when done in healthy partnership, is still an inherently lonely journey. After all, no matter how much people say they’re “with you,” no one else can take your risks, make your decisions, determine your values, or set your precedents. You’re the one doing all that. That’s a lot of weight on one set of shoulders.
A fitting book of the Bible to address this struggle is the book of Ecclesiastes. The majority of Ecclesiastes is written by Solomon, a man with incalculable wealth, world renowned wisdom, unmatched power, and a list of accomplishments to put anyone to shame. And yet Solomon explained that even with all that, life often felt like 'hevel' - a Hebrew word that literally means “vapour” or “smoke.” His success felt like a cloud: from afar it might look solid, but when you pressed into it, you would discover it was vapour.
Solomon identifies four areas of life that disappoint us, not in spite of our successes but because of them. Entrepreneurs today need to keep a close eye on each of these four areas, lest our well intended efforts become hevel, an impressive looking cloud . . . full of nothing.
Pleasure ultimately disappoints. “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, esv).
Even the best business wisdom sometimes fails. “I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11, esv).
In the same way, worldly justice systems eventually fail us. “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 8:14).
The fruit of our labour crumbles. “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 esv).
If nothing we do lasts, and if justice can fail us, then why care about doing the right thing? Why not just live it up and leave the mess for someone else to clean up? Fortunately for us, Solomon doesn’t go that route. Life may seem like hevel, but if we step back just a bit further, Solomon encourages us to see a bigger picture—one in which we gladly realize that entrepreneurship can’t deliver satisfaction, meaning, or significance, because we already have those things in Christ.
Here are Solomon’s four truths to help you avoid the dangers of entrepreneurial hevel.
Realize that you were created for God. The book of Ecclesiastes ends with Solomon realizing that the only thing left for us to do, in light of all that is meaningless, is to fear God and keep his commandments. Our relationship with God and our life that flows from it matter above everything else.
Arrange your life around the certainty of judgment. This reality shouldn’t terrify us. For believers, we know what lies on the other side of death. But we have only a short time on this earth and only a fool would live as if he were going to live forever. So, as Solomon says, know how to count your days, and then make your days count.
Decide what God wants from you and pursue it. Solomon writes, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). As we’ve seen throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon acknowledges that we can’t control things, and there is nothing in life that guarantees success—not great skill, careful planning, or even righteous living. If we, as entrepreneurs, want an ironclad divine promise of success, we’re just not guaranteed that in life. But that’s not supposed to discourage us from taking wise, well calculated risks.
Seek happiness in the present, not the future. Solomon explains that we have a real temptation to always try to find happiness “out there.” But happiness is not around the next corner. It’s a gift from God for the present. You should look for it now, not later. If you’re not happy, Solomon says it’s not primarily a problem with your circumstances but with your relationship with God.
The greatest gain God can give you is not more stuff or a new challenge or a bigger platform. The greatest gain he can give you is the ability to enjoy what you have. Even in earthly terms, happiness, Solomon says, comes from the quality of relationships in the present, not the quantity of exploits in the future.
Many entrepreneurs will look around at their lives many years later and realize they gave away their greatest moments to get to some elusive future that didn’t deliver what it offered. The apostle Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). The greatest gain God can give you is not more stuff or a new challenge or a bigger platform. The greatest gain he can give you is the ability to enjoy what you have.
Submit your entrepreneurship to God and be excellent at it, but don’t turn it into a god. Don’t serve your work, but use your work to serve God and serve others.
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From an article by Faith Driven Entrepreneur, 09/03/2022