Goosen and Stevens: A Christian View of Entrepreneurial Leadership?

From Entrepreneurial Leadership: Finding Your Calling, Making a Difference by Richard J. Goosen and R. Paul Stevens (2013):

The Essence of Entrepreneurship

1. Innovation: “the ability to do something new, unique and different and to satisfy a need in the marketplace.  While an inventor comes up with ideas, an innovator delivers market-oriented products and services.  The role of the entrepreneur is then the pursuit of innovation in the marketplace” (pp. 23, 24).

2. Seizing Opportunities: “Entrepreneurs recognize, seize and pursue opportunities to innovate in the marketplace.  They see change as normal and healthy….An entrepreneur is one who creates a new venture and gathers the necessary resources to pursue the opportunity” (p. 25).

3.  Gaining personal satisfaction through innovation: “In short, entrepreneurs must have a clear sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in their work.  They will not succeed if they do not like what they are doing but are in it only for the money” (pp. 25, 26).

4. Doing Risk Analysis:  “An entrepreneur must have the discipline to conduct sufficient due diligence before committing resources to the undertaking” (p. 26).

5. Developing Entrepreneurial Habits:  “According to Stephen Spinelli and Jeffrey Timmons, there are six dominant themes that have emerged from what successful entrepreneurs do and how they perform: commitment and determination; leadership; opportunity obsession; tolerance of risk; tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty; creativity, self-reliance and adaptability; and motivation to excel” (p. 27).

“[Without] leadership, great ideas never become embodied.  But at the same time, people that are gifted in coordinating work and workers–managers–also may not be entrepreneurs as they do not bring to their leadership innovation, seizing opportunities and creating” (p. 27).

The Essence of Entrepreneurial Leadership

Leadership: “a relationship of influence in which followership is gained and goals are met”  (p. 29).

First, good leaders cultivate the culture of a community or organization.  It turns out that the culture (identified by artifacts and symbols, values that are cherished, and fundamental beliefs) speaks more loudly than the leader….[The] leader is in a sense an environmental engineer, reinforcing values, providing symbols and artifacts that visualize those values, and seeing that the fundamental beliefs of the organization are right and appropriated” (p. 30).

Second, good leaders cast a vision for the community or organization” (p. 30).

Third, leaders implement a process by which follower-ship is gained and goals are attained….It is process of recognizing the input, concerns and passions that God has given members of a group, along with other leaders in the same community, and working with this….And the leader can only lead the process if he or she actually joins the community (or system)” (p. 30).

Fourth, good leaders implement fairness and justice” (p. 31).

Fifth, leaders exercise stewardship of the gifts and talents of others….This is called ‘equipping’ in the Bible…” (p. 31).

Finally, good leaders make followers into leaders” (p. 31).

“[Everyone] is fitted by God to have a sphere of influence, great or small, and thus every person is a leader in some sense” (p. 32).

“The role of leadership is evident in the Genesis narrative of creation when Adam was called to name the animals, and Adam and Eve were called to fill the earth….Second, leadership is one of the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the Pauline letters (Rom 12:8).  This means that over and above any natural leadership capacity, which to a larger or lesser extent all have, some people receive an anointing that moves their natural and creational abilities a notch further” (p. 32).

“So where does leadership come from:  From “god directly in the personality of the individual, from God through Spirit-giving, from God in providential circumstances that draw out leadership and from empowering leaders who follow God’s purpose of multiplying capacity” (p. 33).

“A servant is someone at the disposal of another to do the will of another.  The leader is at the disposal of God to do what God wants.  What God wants is the empowerment and blessing of people, and the development of maturity of the people and the community.  So the leader ends up serving God’s interests in the people and therefore is a servant of the people, but a servant by giving God-directed leadership.  That changes everything.  It changes what a leader does (she or he is fulfilling God’s wishes and God’s purposes).  It also changes how the person does it (in accountability to God and recognizing the ultimate success or failure of their work is vindicated by God even if they feel they have labored and toiled in vain” (pp. 34, 35).

“Paul was a strong leader, by creation, by gifting and by circumstance, who primary service was to God….But significantly and unlike so many people at the top of organizations, Paul was vulnerable.  That is another special challenge of a Christian leader.  Paul shared his own struggles” (p. 35).

“An entrepreneurial leader is one who pursues opportunities in the face of opposition or limited resources and brings together the human and financial resources necessary to pursue an objective” (p. 35).

“Our concept of entrepreneurial leadership is based on the potent combination of what constitutes a great leader and what the entrepreneur brings to that leadership.  Entrepreneurs must view themselves more deliberately as leaders and realize that they have great ability to influence others.   Likewise, leaders benefit by expanding their influence through their capacity to pursue innovation” (p. 40).

A Christian Model

“Worldview is the story about everything that gives us meaning and helps us make sense of life….For the Christian model, this worldview is rooted in the story of the Bible….It is the grand narrative of God’s determination to bring his life-bringing rule into all creation and all people, concluding in the transformation of everything into a new heaven and a new earth….Because the biblical story is the grand narrative of who we are, who God is and what it all means, it is a story that catches up our life callings and enfold them in a grander narrative” (p. 49).

“God has made creatures that are capable of humanizing the earth, and in the process become more human themselves.  That means that both God and human beings are in charge of the world.  They are partners, but not equal partners.  Men and women are stewards entrusted with creation but accountable to the Creator.  Human activity is expected and critical, but it is not absolute.  In the end, and there will be an end, the conclusion of all is not a technical paradise or a dreary end in a fizzle or a bang, but the glorious second coming of Christ and the renewal of everything (Rev 21:5).  This empowers, but does not make absolute, human activity.  As individuals we are not extinguished, reincarnated or merely join the spirits of our ancestors.  We are resurrected to a grand rendezvous with our Creator and Redeemer in a completely renewed creation where we will enjoy ongoing creativity (Rev 21:24).  We will be more human than we could be in this life” (pp. 54, 55).

“[A] biblical worldview suggests that work undertaken with faith, hope and love will last, and purged of sin will find its place in the new heaven and new earth” (p. 60).

The Essence of Faithful: What We Believe

In the beginning God created….And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’….So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth’” (Genesis 1:1,26,27,28).

  • God created all work to matter, but without God work is meaningless.

“‘What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?….People can do no better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their toil.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God’ (Ecles 2:22, 24)” (p. 79, 80).

“[The Professor in Ecclesiastes] is convinced that it is God’s will for work to be useless!  And God speaking through this Professor asks us to reflect on our experience of work because he wants to call us to faith in a God who has determined that work should be useless” (p. 80).
“If work, even volunteer work in Christian service, proves to be meaningless, then we are invited to conclude that we were not made for work but for God.  If the Professor is right, then we will not find satisfaction in our work through faith in God….; instead, we will find satisfaction in our God through our experience of work….His holy doubt gives us opportunity to find in God what we cannot find in work under the sun.  Work is an evangelist to take us to Christ” (p. 80).
  • We were created in God’s image to be co-creators with God.

“Two things distinguish human beings from other animals.  First, we are made as relational beings — male and female — in resemblance of the relational God who dwells as a being in communion — Father, Son and Spirit.  [Second, we] are like God in that we are made to work, to invent, to care for creation and to develop the potential of the created order” (p. 82).

  • We were created to work in community.

“We are most godlike in relationships.  Persons are not the same as individuals.  We are persons not in our individual life by in relationship to God and other people” (p. 68).

  • Work is spiritual worship: As Christians, we seek to worship God by co-creating work experiences that matter.  This is part of our Christian spirituality.

“‘All spirituality springs from this fundamental fact of a God who love us first…If Christian spirituality is, before all else, an initiative by and a gift from God who loved us and seeks us, spirituality is then our recognition and response, with all that entails, to this love of God that desires to humanize and sanctify us.  This path to spirituality is a process, concrete but never finished, by which we identify ourselves with God’s plan for creation.  Because this plan is essentially the Kingdom of God and its justice (holiness), spirituality is identification with the will of God for bringing this Kingdom to us and others’” (Segundo Galilea, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, p. 64).

“[Spirituality] is not cultivating extra-ordinary experiences but rather the infiltration of ordinary life with kingdom justice and holiness” (p. 64).

“The spirit is simply one dimension of personhood in a totally integrated personhood that is expressed in bodily activity, emotional life and intellectual thought (soul)….In biblical anthropology we do not have a body or soul or spirit; we are a body, a soul, a spirit” (p. 68).

  • Thus…

“[We] go to work as a whole person — not just mind or body, but all that inner yearning and expressiveness that links us God” (p. 68).

“[As] soul persons with capacity to relate to God, we are given ideas, visions, and perspectives that can be implemented through entrepreneurial activity” (p. 68).

“[Our] actual experiences in envisioning, inventing and implementing as entrepreneurs are an arena for spiritual growth….The workplace presents most people with the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth” (p. 68).

“[Christian] spirituality and its recognition of a soul dimension to human life and work means that personal growth is not a human achievement (through disciplines and practices) but a response to the Spirit’s initiative” (p. 69).

  • We are called to work: As Christians, we seek to worship God by co-creating work experiences in the marketplace that matter.  This, too, is part of our Christian spirituality.

“[The marketplace] is the place where we get revealed as persons.  Our inside is revealed by what we do outside, by the way we work, by our relationships with people, by the realities of how we go about doing day to day enterprise” (p. 70).

“[The] seven deadly sins, soul-sapping struggles that include pride, greed, lust, anger, envy, sloth, and gluttony, are revealed not in quiet times and prayer retreats but in the thick of life, in business meetings, as we struggle over this month’s sales, when we have to deal with an awkward [situation with a] customer or employee.  And every soul-sapping struggle becomes an opportunity to grow spiritually” (p. 70).

“The work we do, if it is good work, is some part of God’s own work of creating, sustaining, transforming or consummating….We are actually partners with God in our daily work….It means that instead of regarding work in the world as a diversion from the spiritual life and from the ‘work of the Lord’…, we are doing ‘the Lord’s work’ in creating new products and services, developing the organizational culture of our business, engaging in trading and global enrichment, creating new wealth and improving human life” (p. 71).

“[We] must practice the ‘mixed life’….[both] working [and] communing with Jesus” (p. 71).

What Does it Mean to be Called to Work?
  • “Belonging to God.”

“[Calling] is not generated from within a person but from the outside, and the outside comprises not merely our parents and our society, but God….All calling is based on the reality of a God who takes initiative, who seeks to include human beings in his grand project of transforming everything” (p. 111).

  • “Being Godlike people in behavior.”

“We are called to a way of life…as other-oriented values and goals as the primary source of motivation.  The calling is to life — relationships, civic responsibilities, church membership, family, neighboring and work — not just to work….we are called not only to invent, innovate and accomplish, but to do this in a particular way, the way of faith, hope and love, the way of justice, compassion and self-control” (pp. 111, 112).

  • Doing God’s work in the world.”

“Calling…directs people to approach a particular life role (e.g. work) in a manner oriented toward demonstrating or deriving a sense of purpose or meaningfulness….The English Puritans brilliantly distinguished between the ‘general’ calling, by which people are summoned into a relationship with God to become children of God, and the ‘particular’ calling, by which people are guided into particular occupations, such as magistrate, homemaker, pastor or merchant” (p. 112).

  • “Experiencing life purpose.”

“Life and work are not merely for our own advancement, not even simply to provide for our families, but we are caught up in a grand purpose, in the grand story of God’s plan for creation and people.  The entire notion of calling is rooted in the metanarrative of the Christian faith and subsumed by it” (p. 113).

A Process

1. What are our passions and motivations?

“‘We ask to know the will of God without guessing that his will is written into our very beings’” (Elizabeth O’Connor, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, p. 120).  “What do we daydream about?  In what kind of activity do we lose all sense of time?  When do [we] feel fully alive?  What are the things [we] obsess about, wish [we] had more time to put energy into?  What needs doing in the world that [we’d] like to put [our] talents to work on?  What activities reflect deep and consistent interests?  This is from God, built into us by the Creator” (p. 120).

2. What are our gifts and talents?

“God calls us by equipping us to serve in a specific way” (p. 121).  However, “God does not have a wonderful plan for our lives as is often proposed….God has something better than a wonderful plan: a wonderful purpose.  A plan is terrifying, especially if we make a mistake in reading the directions.  A purpose is evocative  A purpose is like a fast-moving stream that carries us along and allows for some mobility from side to side…” (p. 119).

3. What is our unique personality?

See also “Let Your Life Speak.

 

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