By Steven Norris
My oldest son recently came to me with a request. He was interested in starting his own lawn-care business this summer and needed some help creating a flyer to advertise to the neighbors. After taking a business elective this past year in school, he was ready to take his first tentative steps as an entrepreneur.
I’m certain that he also had some motivation from a desire to raise money for a mission trip we are planning for next summer. After being postponed by the pandemic, we hope to spend some quality time with two of our church’s mission partners in 2022.
Understandably, a trans-Atlantic flight followed by two weeks in Africa is not a cheap endeavor. Furthermore, my wife and I are of the mindset that our boys need to have some ownership in this family calling. We know from our own involvement in missions that personal buy-in fosters a deeper level of commitment and will have a much greater impact on our boys’ spiritual development. Call us old-fashioned, I guess.
The situation is not unlike the story of David and the Jebusite king found in scripture. King Araunah had heard of David’s fame and wanted to donate the land on which to build an altar and worship God. David, however, responds, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
Letting go and watching my boys run their own business has been tough. There have been numerous times that I have resisted the urge to swoop in and tell them how to do things differently. However, I keep reminding myself that mistakes and failures are the building materials used to form true wisdom.
They are acquiring skills in scheduling, interpersonal communication, project planning, negotiating, and following through on their word. They are learning about respect, the limits of ambition, and how to maintain a servant’s heart. At the end of their first official job, they learned a thing or two about grace as they were offered more in compensation than they originally quoted the customer.
How many times have we all succumbed to the temptation offered by King Araunah? How many times have we merely brought God our left-overs? How many times have we been content to let others do the work so that we could enjoy the harvest without taking part in the tilling, sowing, weeding, and reaping?
Jesus is looking for entrepreneurs for the Kingdom — men and women who are willing to use their God-given gifts to be on mission with God each and every day. Jesus is looking for those who are willing to get sweaty and take the initiative without waiting for someone else to tell them what to do.
This summer, I’m thankful for two boys who have been willing to get out of their comfort zones to join the missio dei — the mission of God. I’m thankful for all those willing to use whatever resources they have at their disposal to bring the kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.”