“It goes by fast!” This seems to be the timeless insight passed down from generation to generation whether you are talking about parenting, school, health or just the overall sense of life. This is meant to be an encouragement to slow down and enjoy life, however, when it comes to retirement, for many, that day can’t come soon enough. Dreams of the day when the “work hat” hangs on the rack for good, fill the hearts of the American workforce. The fear of lacking and the desire for the “best” have generated a “get all you can” spirit of anticipation to this final season of life. But is it for the better?
Larry Burkett, in his book “Business by the Book” gives specific consideration of this question in regards to the decisions that a Christian business owner must make when it comes time for them to retire. In the spirit of “getting all you can” do they sell their business to the highest bidder so that their own future is more seemingly secure and supported? Besides, doesn’t the owner earn the right to be able to make this decision in his favor in light of his long-term sacrificial investment in the company? Most would think so. However, there is a bigger question at stake.
Who really owns the business? The Bible teaches that all that is in the earth belongs to God (Psalm 24:1), mankind was given stewardship over the earth (Genesis 1:26), and that God requires faithfulness from His stewards (1 Corinthians 4:2). So according to a Christian worldview, a business owner is only a steward of the company he has been entrusted with. As Larry states it, “Either you believe God is the owner or you don’t.” Evidently, the decision to sell is ultimately God’s.
So what does God want us to do with His business? Intentionally, the Bible does not give us a blanket answer. Instead, the Bible gives us principles concerning His holiness and love, His gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, and the mission He has given His followers to share His gift of salvation all over the world. The Holy Spirit will take these principles and will guide our decision-making regardless of what circumstances arise. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sick, working or retired these three core truths (and there are more) can guide you to a godly conclusion.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- How does this decision impact my reputation in the sphere of influence I have been given?
- What kind of company am I selling to?
- What environment and working philosophy am I submitting my employees to?
- What will happen to the mission that my business is devoted to?
- Am I prioritizing profit or purpose in this decision?
- What will my employees and colleagues perceive as my priority?
“Give Until You Can’t”
All of these considerations matter as we steward the companies that God has given us. It may seem bizarre to popular culture to give God’s purpose the priority in such a delicate decision, but Jesus promises that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, everything that we need will be given to us (Romans 6:33). So as we consider the “golden years” of life, let’s not effortlessly drift down the current of “get all we can”. Instead, let’s adopt the mindset “give until we can’t” as we steward all that God has given us.
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