You may hear the words of this great man every week in a building filled with readings and history. You may have to work really hard to see past tradition and ritual to understand this man Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was a truly great Entrepreneural type of thinker. He also worked as a tent maker with Pricilla and Aquila to support his ministry. He raised funds for his ministry among the churches he planted, and among the established gathering in Jerusalem. He understood the challenges of donor support and customer service issues.
He is considered the first great missionary of the Christian movement. In Sunday School class we like to trace his missionary journeys on the map. We like to piece together when he wrote which letters to which places and where he was probably located whether it be by sea or land. We can make educated guesses to the timeline of when Paul was where, down to the year or even almost the month. We can’t even talk about Jesus’ ministry with that type of historical accuracy.
So what does this have to do with business or entrepreneurship? Paul was raised in steep tradition. He was a Pharisee trained under Gamaliel. He was elite and well known. He had such a blind passion for tradition and keeping true to the faith of his fathers that he actually went out killing the people calling themselves believers in the Messiah, who to them was this Jesus who had died on a cross. Paul was a scholar who was concerned and angry with them. He found this belief disgraceful. In his own mind, this love for the tradition somehow justified this treatment of people who disagreed with him.
While out persecuting the families of Christians he encounters a voice calling himself Jesus who strikes him blind. He repents, believes, is baptized and everything changes. After he spent sometime off somewhere else rethinking his worldview he returns with a mission to spread the message.
Paul was the chosen vessel for Jesus to reach out to the gentile future believers. This man as a Pharisee was blinded by tradition and keeping things the same. He was blinded by not changing anything. He would even kill others who were trying to make changes. Somewhere a pastor is reading this and saying, “I met that person in my church board one time.” Only joking. But the need to keep things the same can turn violent.
What is fascinating about Paul is he went out with such urgency to preach and teach people that he had to apply his training as a Pharisee and what he knew now as a believer in Jesus to how he reached people with this message. He made many adaptations to his methods. Like now he was talking about grace and love. Now he saw himself as a sinner who needed redemption. But for the purpose of entrepreneurship it is important to note he made changes to his method based on the surroundings. He even quoted the inscription off the altar to “An Unknown God.” He went on to talk about Jesus who is a God we do know.
When Paul arrived in a town he looked for people to reach. After sometime he would know who the true believers were. He would notice who the leaders were and he would focus on raising up leaders who were almost self sufficient and set them free to lead the church before he left town. He would come back and check on them if he could, or write letters but they needed to live out their callings as well. To truly live out your purpose you have to be in a state of dependence where you need Jesus to intervene.
I am sure young Timothy in a city like Ephesus went through some real stress being in charge of all these new believers who had little knowledge of the Jewish roots of the faith and had come out of idol worship of the sexual fertility goddess Artemis, but Paul got him ready and had to move on.
You see an institutional thinker plants him or herself among a group of people and remains needed. An entrepreneural thinker, thinks organically. A true visionary can look at a group of people and see what God is making them. He or she can look at them and help them get going, but will not hinder them getting there by staying. Maybe true health only depends on God and not any one person or personality. Entrepreneurs, think like Paul, and be yourself today.
Thanks for reading.
photo credit to lumel.wordpress.com