A lot of images come to mind with the word entrepreneur. There’s a Silicon Valley stereotype that includes a button-down shirt with a Patagonia vest. A lot of people will think of someone young, someone working in technology. Few people would think of a gardener.
But think about it.
A gardener is nothing if not an entrepreneur. A gardener has the raw materials of soil and seeds and water, which they combine and tend in an effort to create something where, only days and weeks before, nothing existed. Beauty replaces nothingness; lush plants replace dry ground. What was once just a plot of land, a gardener turns around through the work of their hands and makes something useful—either for its aesthetic or for its function, and sometimes both.
And if we want to learn what it means to be a Faith Driven Entrepreneur, the first place we can look to is a garden. Because you, entrepreneur—whether you’re calling yourself that yet or not—are a gardener. But you’re not the first.
God is the original entrepreneur.
If anyone knows what it’s like to create and build something completely new, it’s him. And we can see that from the very beginning he has created us to share in his entrepreneurial process: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
God invited Adam into the work of caring for and cultivating the Garden right away. He didn’t just set Adam down in Eden and tell him to enjoy himself. Adam had roles and responsibilities. You think your day is busy today? Imagine having to name every single animal in existence!
So often, we think of work as a curse—as something God made us do after we got kicked out of the Garden. But what if work is actually a part of bearing his image? What if work is an invitation to create and build alongside the ultimate entrepreneur? What if work is something God gave us as a vehicle through which we can enjoy his presence?
What made the Garden of Eden so special wasn’t the absence of work.
It was the presence of the perfect coworker. God and Adam worked together. The Garden of Eden and all the plants and animals in it were shared between God and man. That’s the perfect vision of entrepreneurship—that we can be united in purpose, passion, and pursuit with God.
God wants to work with us.
He wants to create with us. He wants to start, share, and complete new projects and ideas with us. He didn’t leave Adam alone to tend to the Garden of Eden, and he doesn’t ask us to work in isolation.
God uses us to bring about his Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Our creations can bring order out of chaos, solve problems, rally against injustice, and create dignity and opportunity for those who interact with our creations.
This truth should empower us.
It should give us the ability to move forward confidently as we create and lead our businesses, as we propose solutions to societal problems, and as we step out in faith into the entrepreneurial venture God has drawn us to.
For far too long, Christian culture has ignored and dismissed this type of desire. I’ve met too many faithful people who ask me hesitantly, “Is it okay if I say no to working for a church or missions agency and start a business instead?” They’re cautious, uncertain, scared, and wondering if the entrepreneurial journey aligns with God’s call for believers.
I’m here to tell you, yes. It absolutely does. Entrepreneurship provides a place where you get to commune with God through the creative process. It provides a way through which you can love God and love others. And so my hope is that as you read through the rest of these chapters—these marks of a Faith Driven Entrepreneur—you will feel empowered to do what you’re doing and to do it well.
Entrepreneurship is a legitimate pursuit that, when done well, brings honor and glory to our entrepreneurial God. You can speak confidently about what you do, because God is in you and with you.
Part 2 of 2
Adapted from Faith-Driven Entrepreneur: What It Takes to Step Into Your Purpose and Pursue Your God-Given Call to Create by Henry Kaestner, J. D. Greear, and Chip Ingram. Copyright ©2021. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Henry Kaestner is the cofounder of Bandwidth (NASDAQ: BAND) and a managing principal in Sovereign’s Capital, a venture capital management company that invests over $100 million in faith-driven entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia and the US from its offices in Silicon Valley; Washington, DC; and Jakarta, Indonesia.