I started my business for the wrong reasons

Why did you start your business? When people ask me that question, I often respond with, “So I could spend more time with my family while providing for them.” Or, “So I could work part-time while recovering for chemo.” Or, “So I can build up a bank account and get back to my plans for seminary.”

They all sounds like noble answers, right?

Well, this morning during my devotions, I read a verse that struck a chord. It was Ephesians 4:28:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.  

Ok, so what does that verse have to do with my running a business?  Well sure, I am not to steal, or be engaged in dishonest things in business, and yes, it says that we are to give to those in need. But what is the thing that struck a chord and made me realize that that “to provide for my family” is the wrong reason?

I mean, the Bible does tell us that we are to provide. In 1 Timothy 5:8 we read:

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Jesus has told us to provide for our families. So we must.  But that is not the ultimate reason we work.  As a Christian, saying, “I work to provide for my family” is incomplete and is an unscriptural view of work.

We should work, whether it’s at my business, or at your job at the office, or at your job digging a ditch, because working is the Lord’s will concerning us. The thief is to perform honest work and share with those in need, not because he was a thief, not because it is some sort of punishment, but because it is the Lord’s will for all of us!

Working is the Lord’s will concerning us.


It’s that simple.

As this revelation (one that I am sure I already knew) resounded in my head and my coffee got cold….I remembered 1 Corinthians 10:31:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

We are to live our entire lives to the glory of God. Work…to the glory of God. Rest… to the glory of God. Eat…to the glory of God. Ride that mountain bike…to the glory of God. Drink that beer…to the glory of God. Dig that ditch…to the glory of God! Post that selfie on Instagram…to the glory of…uh. Well, you get my point.

Everything we do is to be done for God’s glory.

What do most of us actually work for?

When I worked at a regular job, most of my colleagues spoke about working towards retirement, saving for a trip, working for the weekend to go on that mountain biking trip, buying beer, working OT to get that renovation on the house, or buying the Big House to keep up with the Jonses. Unfortunately, many Christians view work in exactly the same way.  Many of us are in it for what we get out of it.  Unfortunately, I fell in the trap of viewing work as merely a means to an end.

Sure, some of you may argue that we use our work to do things that glorify God. It is true that God may be honored in the results of our work, through tithing, helping the needy…saving so I can go to seminary and become a pastor… even as He may not be supreme in our view of work itself.

Is He supreme in your view of work?

If I am honest with myself, He has not been my ultimate focus in this business. Starting this business may not have been for his glory; but that changes today.

Why do you work?

Ryan Smith blogs at where this first appeared. It is reprinted here with permission.

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  1. Tim Bratcher

    January 8, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    This seems to boil down the reason for work to ‘Because God said so’.
    Sure, that ought to be sufficient, right? But that can run the risk of making it sound like God’s will for us is arbitrary.
    Nothing God says or does is arbitrary. ‘Because I said so’ is not the complete story.
    The author somehow misses this in the context of his own quotation:
    “…doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

    In fact, none of the verses he quotes oversimplifies the requirement in the way that the author does.
    He might have quoted Leviticus 19, where many of the laws given are concluded with ‘I am the Lord’. That’s enough reason to obey them – however as we grow and mature, we see the wisdom behind those laws.
    This article seems like a step backwards from adulthood to childhood.

  2. Reformed Perspective

    January 8, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    I would characterize the article as boiling down to: “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

    The blind spot Ryan Smith is addressing is that of getting so caught up in the secondary reasons for work – providing for our families, earning money for seminary, etc. – that we forget what the principal reason is, which is glorifying God. Smith is addressing the misordering of things.

    Consider, by way of example, the bakeshop owner who sees his work as glorifying God only in what the income it brings allows him to do for his family, church, and charities. How might he react when a homosexual couple comes in looking for a wedding cake? To refuse their request is to threaten that income. And if it is only what that income allows him to do that glorifies God, then this bakeshop owner is going to look very differently at the wedding cake request than he might if he viewed his work itself as a means of fulfilling his first calling, that of glorifying God.

    That’s a litigious example, and maybe not all that applicable for most of us. So, let’s consider one more example. Think of the fellow who hates his job, but stays in it because it allows him to provide for his family. If he looks at his job as only glorifying God in how it provides for his family, won’t he approach his work each day with a very different attitude than he might if he viewed the job itself as a way of glorifying God?

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