As I have read the Bible over the years to find examples to follow and lessons to apply to our business, one particular character stands out. You are probably familiar with the story of the rich young ruler, but have you ever taken the time to apply that story to your life and business? Are you willing to let go of your possessions so that you can follow Jesus more fully?
Rich Young Ruler
Before I explain the application I see in this story, let’s revisit the passage about this rich young ruler. This wealthy young man has asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus first responds with a list of commandments he should follow. Then the young man responds:
- He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.”
Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
Possessions = Obstacles
When most people read this story, they assume it is about money or possessions. In fact, that is not the point of the story at all. The key take-away is that Jesus knew what was standing in between the rich young ruler and a life of fully committed discipleship.
For this young man, it was not a matter of obvious sin from breaking the commandments Jesus listed at first. No, for this young man, it was his possessions that owned him. They were destroying his chance at a meaningful relationship with Jesus. Jesus recognized this and required that he let go of that wealth first, before he could follow Him.
“Possessions” Before God
The lesson we must learn from this story is that each of us may have different “possessions” that we are placing before God in priority. As Christian business owners and leaders, there seem to be a number of these “possessions” that we have in common. If we are to live lives of fully committed discipleship, then we must be willing to let go of them.
Of course, I cannot possibly list all possible “possessions” that might be keeping you from a life of committed discipleship. Instead, I have chose what I believe are 5 of the most common for people in our positions. Take a look at pray about which of these resonate with you.
#1 – Pride In Success
It is one of the easiest traps to fall into when you are in business. We are typically wired to achieve and accomplish feats that others avoid. As a result, it is sometimes easy to begin feeling a pride in what we have accomplished.
Even worse, we begin to seek that feeling just as if we are addicted to a drug. This desire for pride in our success begins to bleed into our decisions and subconscious thoughts. If we are not willing to let go of this pursuit, we will head in a different direction from Jesus and His desire for our lives.
#2 – Desire For Luxury
When business is good, the financial results can be plentiful. Despite our best efforts to remain untouched by the desire for more, better, bigger, and nicer things, it is not uncommon for us to succumb to the draw of luxury. This is especially true when our peers (the Jones’) are living it up!
Jesus does not call wealth a sin. The sin appears when it becomes our god. This was the problem for the rich young ruler and it is a problem for many business leaders. We must be intentional about avoiding this yearning at every turn if we want our hearts to remain in Him.
#3 – Fear Of Loss
Depending on when you were born, this “possession” may be more of a problem for you than most others. Those that are Baby Boomers or older will be most susceptible to this issue. Having lived through the Great Depression or having been raised by someone that has can create a serious fear of loss. Recognizing that wealth is fleeting can drive a person to hold onto it with an even stronger grip.
This drive is different than the drive for luxury or the desire for success. It causes one’s every thought to revolve around holding onto worldly wealth. It makes it difficult to take risks for God out of fear of the consequences. If we are to live the life of a fully committed disciple, then we must get rid of this “possession” and be willing to risk it all for Him!
#4 – Hedging Your Bets
It is not unusual for business owners to see risk in various segments of their industry. In order to reduce the risk of excessive loss, they decide to diversify. They spread their investments across several different segments in an effort to hedge their bets.
This same strategy can bleed over into our personal lives. If we have doubts about God or have not yet cully committed our lives to Him, then we might choose to “hedge our bets” by splitting our commitment between the promises of this world and the things of God. This lack of full commitment is exactly what Jesus addressed in Revelation 3:16. We must quit dividing our commitments and go all in, one way or the other!
#5 – Favor Of Men
If there was one group of people Jesus challenged more than any other, it was the religious leaders. Their problem was that they were more concerned with gaining the favor of men than that of God (John 12:42-43). Their actions reflected their desire to gain the respect and favor of the people. As business leaders, we are often guilty of the same mindset.
When we make decisions based on how it will affect our popularity or reputations rather than our understanding of God’s leading, then we are putting this “possession” ahead of Him. We must let go of this desire and focus instead on what we believe God would have us do, regardless of the impact on our popularity!
What “possessions” are you holding onto?
Are any of these “possessions” causing you trouble?
What should be your next actions?
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