Entrepreneurship Changed the Face of Christianity
By Andrena Sawyer
In 2017, I adopted a new rule: I only check social media twice a day—once in the morning, and again in the evening. I won't get into my reasons here, but as you can imagine, this gives me limited time to catch up on all my friends' lives, trending topics of the day, and even world news. During one of my recent check-ins on Facebook, I came across a friend's status that caught my attention. She went into detail about why she decided to walk away from Christianity after grappling internally for some time. To her, faith was the antitheses of reason and autonomy, and after wresting with the three, faith in God ultimately lost the battle. Of course, this started me down a path of introspection to analyze my own struggles with faith as part of an enlightened and empowered generation.
We are the millennials—those of us born between 1982 to 2002. We are described as the most diverse, innovative and free-thinking generation to ever exist. Planet earth has never seen us before, and never will again. Our children will stand on our shoulders, pay homage, and then build on the world we have created where "impossible" is a figment of imaginations, and theories once considered absolute are now subjective concepts. Collectively, we've done some incredible things. That's why I get what she was saying.
Studies show that, overall, the more educated people are, the less likely they are to be "religious." With education comes healthy skepticism and the need for facts and proof. With skepticism, arises the question of the validity of faith. After all, faith is the evidence of things hoped for. If you're a literalist, you can imagine that evidence and hope should not go together. After all, evidence, by definition, is factual and concrete. Hope is fluid and subjective. In light of this, here's the issue I (privately) took with my friend's revelation.
1.Our generation proves that the Word of God stands the test of time. A study at Baylor University examined faith and the propensity to start a business. The results showed that entrepreneurs prayed more frequently than other people, and were more likely to believe that God was personally responsive to them. From the creation account in Genesis, to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, to the Proverbs 31 woman, we see entrepreneurship promoted in the bible. While research and culture commentators are enthralled by entrepreneurship as a trend, Christian faith affirms this is not new, and it's actually been blessed (some say ordained) by God from the very beginning.
2. Purpose demands faith, and even nonreligious studies show that more people are living by faith than ever before. That's because more people are entrepreneurs than ever before. If you've ever had to make the tough decision of whether to take care of a personal bill or a business expense before, you understand where I'm coming from. Entrepreneurship is not all glamorous. In fact, I would say most of it is not. For most entrepreneurs, it's about taking a chance to live for a reason bigger than our comfort zones. It takes immense sacrifices; yet more people are doing it (and succeeding) than ever before. For the Christian entrepreneur who has gone to sleep worried about how certain expenses will be taken care of, only to see God's hand perform a miracle, this is self-explanatory. It is also all the evidence needed that, indeed, there is a God and He is responsive.
3. Entrepreneurship affirms that faith cannot be boxed in, and that His ways are sovereign. One of the most puzzling, yet humbling bible scriptures I have come across is Matthew 5:45, which says, God "makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." In other words, God is no respect of persons. He does what He wants, and chooses whom He will—i.e. sovereignty. Entrepreneurship proves this. Everyday there are people—young, old, black, white, male, female, stellar citizens, broken people, cynics and pious—who are all creating, meeting needs and succeeding. That is divine. And just like He can use a raven to provide food for his people, He is using the unconventional and the unexpected to show that His masterpiece and creation have unlimited potential.
I am not exempt from grappling with doubt and faith. I won't pretend to have all of the answers. However, I am moved by humanity's continuous efforts to be on the throne of our own lives. The truth is, no matter how creative and innovative we become, there are limitations. To date, even the most brilliant thinkers cannot explain away or develop alternatives to certain things, like the ability to create life out of nothing, or how to transcend man's predetermined number of days on earth. I wholeheartedly believe God wants us to seek out knowledge. He doesn't want robots, and I know that those who questioned Him in the bible received answers. That encourages me. I can be part of an enlightened generation, and still represent an unchanging God in a changing culture and generation.
Andrena Sawyer is the President of P.E.R.K. Consulting, and the Founder of the Minority Christian Women Entrepreneurs Network. She is also the author of The Long Way Home, Ponder It In Her Heart and The Other Side of Assertiveness.
Follow her on twitter or Instagram @Andrena_Sawyer.