In the forward to Every Good Endeavor, Katherine Alsdorf says she wanted “a gospel that had good news even” for failures. Yet, after reading that book, I didn’t come away with a good handle on how to view my own business failures from the perspective of the gospel.
It turns out, what I was looking for was the penultimate chapter of Me, Myself & Bob by Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales.
Here’s a snippet:
[B]eware of dreams, for dreams make dangerous friends. We all have them — longings for a better life, a healthy child, a happy marriage, rewarding work. But dreams are, I have come to believe, misplaced longings. False lovers. Why? Because God is enough. Just God. And he isn’t “enough” because he can make our dreams come true — no, you’ve got him confused with Santa or Merlin or Oprah. The God who created the universe is enough for us — even without our dreams. Without the better life, the healthy child, the happy marriage, the rewarding work.
If I am a Christian…where I am in five years is none of my business. Where I am in twenty years is none of my business. Where I am tomorrow is none of my business. … No “BHAGs,” no inspiring PowerPoint vision statements. Just a group of people on their knees, trusting God for guidance each day. Holding everything loosely but God himself.
Just one more:
I didn’t need to have any impact at all. Whatever needs I had were being met by the Scripture I was reading and by the life of prayer I was developing. My passion was shifting from impact to God.
In Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller describes Richard Muow providing a biblical framework to investment bankers within which investment banking can be pursued as leveraging our resources to meet a human need.
One challenge I face in trying to live out this story is that, sometimes, it doesn’t feel as though having a new “story” of my work is enough.
When I was being recruited to join a law firm out of law school, a devout Roman Catholic partner shared with me the story of three bricklayers working to build a cathedral. The first one treated his job as nothing more or less than laying bricks. The second one saw it as a means to make money. The third one saw it as a way to contribute to creating a space for people to worship God.
The recruiting partner urged me to see what I would be doing as an entry-level law firm associate — e.g., fairly mechanical tasks of creating and keeping track of closing checklists for deals involving energy infrastructure in the developing countries — as not just practicing law, or making money by practicing law but as contributing to bringing electricity to people who wouldn’t otherwise have it.
I appreciated the story, then, and I do still.
Yet,knowing that I am living this “story” feels insufficient when faced with certain struggles — e.g., no new businesses being generated despite my efforts.
Katherine Alsdorf, co-writing with Tim Keller, said she wanted “a gospel that had good news even for” her business venture’s failure. So do I. In fact, I’d like to know how the gospel is good news even for the frustrating fruitlessness one can experience in one’s business endeavors.
We will see whether the rest of the book suggests a way forward.