The narrow gate of good business…

There are things that our customer needs to know about us to properly engage in business.  As Stephen Covey says in his book “The Speed of Trust” – “If you can’t trust one another there’s going to be trouble.”  Business in its purest form is a relationship between two people who truly understand each other and have come to realize that they will mutually benefit from serving each other.  Profit in this sense is a concept that glorifies God.

“Earning a profit is fundamentally good and provides many opportunities for glorifying God, but also many temptations to sin.”
[Wayne Grudem – “Business for the glory of God”]

Unclear expectations are the demise of many relationships today.  It is the storm that is eroding the foundation upon which cultures are built.  This all stems from a lack of poor communication skills.  My friend Ken Stotlzfus is often heard saying, “Unmet expectations is one of the first things that will erode trust in any relationship.”  Good communication is friendship building and leads to great business opportunities.

In the past, I have found myself listening in a conversation only to find the right timing to jump in and share what was important to me.  I was listening to them but not to understand who they are, but to understand who I was and what I wanted to say.  While I was listening I was collecting my thoughts and putting them together in an order that I believed would communicate clearly what I believed to be true.  I didn’t see the value of who I was speaking with and the conversation that we were having.  If I was not careful I lost track of what they were saying – just ask my wife, because she has witnessed this more times than I’d like to admit.

Unclear expectations lead to unmet expectations – which is ultimately destructive.  This is like building a house without a foundation that will endure the storms of life it only leads to destruction and great is the fall of that house.  Jesus had much to say about this when he taught His disciples about how to truly succeed in life.  Do we have expectations of others?  Then we must also understand that they have expectations of us as well.  It is a good practice to listen for the purpose of understanding what those expectations are and then clearly communicating your own.  This is a solid foundation upon which to build your business.  Seek to understand and then seek to be understood.  Only then can we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

In the posture and path that Jesus taught, this was a narrow gate.  It’s important to understand that a gate was not so much an entrance into a city, but the marketplace where the leaders in a city often would sit and discuss the issues facing their oikos.  Oikos is a greek word that means a sphere of influence.  It often referred to their family’s home and the work that they had dedicated themselves to in order to serve others around them well.  There were times when the discussion in the gate was on a personal level, but often it was more far-reaching and would typically deal with the affairs of their oikos.

Jesus warned his disciples that, there was a gate that was wide and was easy to enter but it led to destruction and many went through it.  He instead encouraged them that there was also a narrow gate that was harder to enter, and few did this, but it led to life.  He warned them that many would disguise themselves as sheep but they were really ravenous wolves seeking whom they could devour.  It’s in the process of communicating with others that you will discover one’s true identity.  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  The bottom line – by their fruits you will recognize them.

This has profound implications when we look at this through the lens of Jesus as the Master Craftsman.  We are His workmanship and there is a posture and path through which we can apprentice with him and even become a journeyman.  The longer we remain in His workshop and learn His ways we will become like Him.  Jesus warned that when He returns He will judge each man’s work according to what they have done.  It is a sobering thought, but one that is also full of blessing.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
[Jesus – Matthew 7:12-28]

There will be many who declare that they have studied under the Master Craftsman, performing things as they had been taught by Him.  But Jesus will say depart from me for you are not a worker of righteousness.  They had never come in through the narrow gate, that place where we sit under His teaching and seek to understand the ways of the Master Craftsman and apprentice with Him.  He had never sent them out as a journeyman to conduct His work in other places and yet they went out to do just this very thing – claiming that they were doing it in His name.

He concluded his teaching by describing to His disciples that it was wise to build their house upon a foundation that had clearly defined expectations.  Expectations that had been defined by the one they had apprenticed under.  Therefore, when we seek to go about our affairs ultimately to the point of creating a business that serves others well for the mutual benefit of all involved we must establish what these expectations are.  What does Master Craftsman expect of us?  Then we should expect those things of ourselves.  And what are the expectations of our customers?  Let’s make sure that we are prepared to meet or exceed those, or at least provide a clear line of reason that helps them understand why those expectations are not a good foundation upon which to build good business.  It is only then that we are ready to proceed to place upon that foundation a house that will last the storms that are sure to come.

Would you like to join us in apprenticing with the Master Craftsman?  Have you realized that you are His workmanship?  His workshop is open to all.  He invites all to enter and apprentice with Him?  We are not Him, but He has sent us to go out and call others to join in this work for the glory of God and the joy of all peoples.

Call today and ask for a free consultation.  Come into the gate and discuss the affairs of your oikos.  We would be more than happy to sit and listen to you and ask questions and clarify your expectations.  We are all Master Crafted and there is great joy in doing the work that He has created us to do.

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