WORKING FOR THE PROVIDER
For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! (Isaiah 64:4, NLT, emphasis mine)
And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will- Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:14, emphasis mine))
A Business Story
On a summer Sunday in 1988, I heard the preacher say God loves you and can heal you. The words caught my attention. I had a heart attack the previous Wednesday. As I suffered extremely sharp chest pain and fell into a dark abyss, I said, “Jesus save me.” In an instant, the pain left, and I was basking in a warm, soothing light. I knew then that Jesus was alive and real. And He loved me.
After the preaching, I made a quality decision to follow Him as my Lord and Savior. I also prayed to Jesus, “Lord, if You heal my heart, I will serve You for the rest of my life.” A few days later, I had my follow-up visit to the doctor. He said he was puzzled because my heart showed no traces of the heart attack he had diagnosed the previous week and that I “had the heart of an eighteen-year-old.”
That night, I thought I could not reconcile my newfound faith with my work as the Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of a multinational manufacturing corporation. My dog-eat-dog business style and the Bible were irreconcilable. I had just experienced God in a profoundly touching way, and I didn’t want to displease Him. I had no choice but to look for a way to make a living that would make my Lord smile—through getting another job or going back to entrepreneurship.
But then, the following day, I sensed that the Lord was telling me that I did not have to resign because He would guide me through the process of reconciling traditional and Biblical business practices. In addition, I felt God assuring me that if I did His work, He would do mine. I later realized that this was In Isaiah 64:4.
For from of old no one has heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] waits for Him. (Isaiah 64:4, AMPC, emphasis mine)
My decision to trust the Lord ignited my faith adventure in business. I had been with the company for nine years. During this “before Christ” period, my revenues grew by 140%, an excellent performance, considering the industry growth rate hovered around 3-4% per year.
Over the following six years of my “after Christ” in the multinational, the Lord provided me with business counsel, resources, and incredible business outcomes.
Normal Business Life
In the first Bible study I attended, I learned about the four features of a normal Christian life, namely, Bible life, witnessing life, Christian community life, and prayer life, based on Acts 2:42.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
I thought this was also a good framework for Biblical management, thus making the Bible my primary business manual. So, I started to upgrade business standards to the gold standard of the Bible. I will cite some of the more significant upgrades.
In the early days of my faith adventure, I had to swim upstream against the onrushing waters of my old business philosophy, which did not measure up to the higher Biblical standards of ethics and excellence.
For example, I struggled with the knowledge I had learned from elementary school religion class, that the Ten Commandments say that there should be no Sunday work. So, on my new life’s first week, I issued a memo that closed our fifty-plus branches on Sundays, despite knowing how controversial and unpopular it would be. I also prayed to the Lord that I trusted Him for a positive outcome of this illogical business decision.
Almost immediately, branch personnel complained because they worked on a salary plus commission basis. Sunday sales accounted for a sizable portion of sales. The next day the company president met with me to discuss the move. Since I knew the action was unjustifiable from a business viewpoint, I prudently informed the president that I had just committed my life to Jesus. I was obligated to follow the Ten Commandments. I recall that I calmly asked him to trust me as he had on many previous occasions.
On Monday, I looked at the sales report, and to my delight, our six-day sales significantly exceeded the seven-day sales target for the week. And this level of sales performance became the new normal.
Business Bible Policy
I finished reading the Bible in about a month, and as I learned about new Bible-based business management principles, I implemented them.
We reviewed and revised our marketing communications messaging and selling stories, ensuring we did not overpromise and embellish facts. In addition, we took pains to validate our messages and scripts against fact-based truths. Finally, we adopted the gold standard of Biblical truth as our new normal.
We also made our policies on pricing and discounts—trade, cash, prompt payment, volume, bundling, and exclusivity—fair and transparent. In addition, we evaluated all sweetheart deals, trade rebates, and special sales arrangements. As a result, Jehovah-Jireh always provided remarkable results despite the seemingly illogical Bible-based plans and strategies we implemented. Indeed, Scriptures were more effective than principles I learned in the business school where I earned my MBA a dozen years earlier.
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things are mighty. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Business Witnessing Policy: Sharing Jesus
After a couple of weeks, I started to implement the second part of a normal Christian life: witnessing and sharing Jesus with business stakeholders. Again, I started with my employees. I invited my management team, office staff, branch managers, and sales representatives to take an evangelism retreat. The Gospel was shared with them, and a substantial number accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Lord had just upped my exhilaration as my team joined in my faith adventure.
I was convinced that the main work for God—even for business—is sharing God’s love with others and the hope that they will welcome Jesus into their lives. I considered sharing Jesus as my most important “product.” I made it my objective to share Jesus with the over one thousand customers in our aging of accounts receivable report. I established personal metrics to measure my witnessing progress. All other key performance indicators took a backseat. I knew that doing so would only provide beneficial outcomes as promised in Isaiah 64:4.
I desired to share the Good News with all our stakeholders: employees and their families, suppliers, and over one thousand distributors, dealers, and corporate clients.
Bibles became part of our office supplies for employees and available on-demand for their families. In time, we gave Bibles to our customers. In addition, our promotional materials and giveaways were distinctly Biblical. For example, every Christmas, our gifts to our customers included Scripture-inspired wall calendars and Bible diary-appointment books.
Christian Community Life Policy
After a sizable number of employees became believers, we started a Friday worship service in my seminar room. Music ministers from my church came to lead us in worship and conduct Bible studies. In a brief time, I started to share the Word myself. Employees from the other business units began to attend, including some from our factory plant located two hours away. Many of our customers also joined us. Many were healed. Many entered the kingdom of Jesus.
I distinctly remember my favorite sales supervisor and one provincial distributor, in separate instances, giving their testimony that they were healed of their diabetes.
There was a time when my secretary informed me that the newborn daughter of a branch manager had been ill with diarrhea the past few days and wasn’t responding to medication. I immediately motored to the manager’s home and saw the baby weak and pale. I informed them that their prayers for the baby were more powerful than mine. They accepted Jesus, and together we prayed over the child burning with fever. As we prayed, the fever went away, the baby’s pale skin became rosy, and as she slept, she smiled as we said Amen.
Business Prayer Policy
Prayer became part of office life. We had morning and afternoon prayers. Most staff meetings opened and closed with prayers. I would prepare a short devotional if I were the presiding officer over a session.
We also had a prayer brigade where I encouraged interested employees to spend an hour per day in our conference (a.k.a. prayer) room to pray for company intentions, sales proposals, fellow ill employees, and the employee’s prayer request box. I would report to the office an hour early for my prayer brigade hour and business devotion time.
A prayer request box was placed just outside the conference room so employees, suppliers, and dealers could drop in their prayer requests. We also kept a copy of our latest customer aging of accounts receivable to pray for our customers, for sales, and financial blessings for customers with overdue accounts so they could pay us on time.
Working for God
Nine months into my new life, my church designated me as a lay teacher and preacher, making me busy with ministry work on most weekday evenings and weekends. At times, conflicts between ministry and work arose. I would ask the Lord which event He wanted me to attend. Whenever He would ask me to serve in a ministry, He would remind me that if I did His work, He would help me with my work. And the Lord consistently delivered excellent marks for all my key performance indicators despite missing many business meetings, netting me an extremely handsome salary, profit share, and bonuses.
My management responsibility grew and expanded to include Australia and the US West Coast subsidiaries. In addition, my export responsibility grew from Hong Kong to China, Israel, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Cameroon.
Five years into my new business life, the Lord, through a small voice I sensed in my spirit, instructed me to retire from the corporate executive world and start a management consultancy to share what He had taught me about Biblical management. As a result, our management consultancy branded its business discipleship as Master’s Business Approach (MBA).
In my first eight years in the company and using my Harvard-affiliate MBA degree, sales grew around 140%. Using the Lord’s MBA, my sales grew 847% in the last six years.
It was a great six years with Jehovah-Jireh (Lord Provider), who was alive, real, and actively controlling a business. But little did I know then, I had started a life-long process of experiencing Jehovah-Jireh’s care and provisions for my personal and business needs. As I waited on the Lord— listened to His counsel, vigorously implemented them, and believed He was totally in control of the outcomes—He worked and acted on behalf of my business affairs.
Biblical Business Management
Principle of Waiting for the Lord
The business story shared above and most of the other business narratives to be presented in this book will testify about how Isaiah 64:4 is a solid business principle. If a business does the work of God, the Lord will act or work on behalf of the company.
For from days of old no one has heard, nor has ear perceived, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who works and acts in behalf of the one who [gladly] waits for Him. (Isaiah 64:4, AMP, emphasis mine)
Waiting for the Lord involves enduring the passage of time as a person watches and listens for God’s directives, enthusiastically implements them based on God’s timing, and expectantly believes that God will deliver His outcome.
For businesspeople, the principle of waiting for the Lord is a huge challenge. Even mature Christians in business have difficulty waiting even though the Bible is replete with exhortations to wait for the Lord. Moreover, the carnal and fallen nature makes people inclined to take things into their minds, abilities, and hands.
And yet, even in today’s digital age, waiting is still a significant part of modern life—in a drive-thru, in the airport, in the doctor’s office, in traffic, and in top restaurants. People are willing to wait to get what they want. Therefore, if businesspeople desire Almighty God to show Himself actively work in their businesses, they ought to master the act of waiting for the Almighty.
There are three stages in waiting. The first is waiting and praying that God, the Source of all wisdom, will choose the best business goals and the best means to those goals.
In the second, the enterprise must, with humility and obedience, zealously execute the Lord’s plan, in terms of timing, with precision, and in terms of direction, with no deviation. This manner of implementation will merit approval from the omnipotent Lord who can do whatever He wills for the business’ good.
The third stage of waiting for God is expecting Jehovah-Jireh to bring about every action necessary to produce the best business results His wisdom determines.
Therefore the Lord Will Wait for Man
The Lord desires to bless kingdom businesses but will wait for the enterprise to wait for Him and work for Him.
Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 30:18, emphasis mine)
The divine wait is God’s mercy in His dealings with business. In the natural, people tend to love money, and if they undertake unrighteous acts, it will merit judgment and punishment.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)
God desires that businesses wait for Him. Therefore, they need to endure the passage of time as they watch and listen for God’s directives, enthusiastically implement them based on God’s timing, and expectantly believe that Jehovah-Jireh will deliver the outcomes prepared for kingdom businesses, even before the foundation of the world.
The Lord Sees to It
Jehovah-Jireh, or “the Lord will provide,” is mentioned only once in the Bible, in Genesis 22:14. Yet, this Title of God is among the most common understanding of God’s relationship with humanity.
And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. (Genesis 22:14, KJV)
Here is what C.H. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, said about Jehovah- Jireh:
“ABRAHAM called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh,” or, “Jehovah will see it,” or “Jehovah will provide,” or “Jehovah will be seen.” We are offered a variety of interpretations, but the exact idea is that of seeing and being seen. For God to see is to provide.
Our own word “provide,” is only Latin for “to see.” You know how we say that we will see to a matter. Possibly this expression hits the nail on the head.
Our heavenly Father sees our need and, with divine foresight of love prepares the supply. He sees to a need to supply it, and in the seeing He is seen, in the providing He manifests Himself.” (Spurgeon, n.d.)
The Hebrew word “Jireh” means “to see.” So how does the word “see” become provide?
When God sees, it is always consistent with His nature. He simultaneously sees and knows the past, present, future (and possibly other dimensions and realities humans may not be aware of).
Since God is All-Loving, All-Good, All-Merciful, He does not stop at the point of seeing. He will respond to what He sees in a perfectly loving way.
Since God is also All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Present in time and space, He will respond with loving eternal foreknowledge and infinite wisdom.
Since God is All-Powerful and All-Sovereign, He will respond and provide for whatever will be loving, excellent, and perfect for His creation.
God cannot remain static when He sees things and situations. God will always be eternally and infinitely dynamic to act in a manner consistent with His nature. Therefore, “God sees” is in reality “God sees to it that His creation is provided for even before the need or want happens.”
Provisions Define God’s Relationship with Man
Jehovah-Jireh may be among the more universally accepted understanding of God because Jehovah-Jireh defines the relationship between Creator and His creation. The Creator sees to it that He provides for His creation. Therefore, the Bible strongly encourages believers always to ask and expect that the Lord will provide, help, and rescue His creatures.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7, NLT)
As a baby Christian, I made the Lord’s Prayer my initial basis for prayer and for asking from God as Jehovah-Jireh. In my daily business meeting with the Lord, “Thy will be done” became “Lord, teach us Your way of managing a business.” “Our daily bread” became “God, help us accomplish our sales and marketing goals.” “Forgive us our trespasses” meant “Lord, I am sorry for any unethical acts of my organization.”
“Forgive those” involved tolerance for any unscrupulous competitive practices that could harm us. “Lead us not into temptation” was “Lord, teach me policies that will deter unethical activities.” “Deliver us from evil” became “Lord, protect us and our sales from evil.” The Lord’s Prayer is one big ask from the Lord Provider.
Provider of Redemption
When Adam and Eve were exiting Eden, the first promise God made to them was the provision for redemption through Jesus in Genesis 3:15.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15, emphasis mine)
“Her Seed” means the Promised One, Jesus. The phrase “you shall bruise his heel” means Satan’s repeated attempts to defeat Christ. “He will bruise your head” means Satan’s defeat after Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. A wound on the heel is not mortal, while a hit to the head is. Thus, the first promise from God to the world was a provision for salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. Some consider this the first gospel.
Extraordinarily, God is Jehovah-Jireh to those who accepted the invitation to be children of God (John 1:12). They were provided with everlasting life through His Son (John 3:16), provisions for life’s needs (Matthew 6:33), and enjoyment and abundance (John 10:10).
Provider for Kingdom Business
Similarly, God is Jehovah-Jireh for kingdom businesses. The term “provider” is often attached to many occupations that offer services—health care providers, internet providers, insurance providers, among a few. Companies are also often called providers of goods and services.
When God works and acts on behalf of a business, He will provide everything. He will inspire the roadmap to business success and profitability.
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)
He will provide for an enterprise’s ability to develop, make, and offer goods and services to the market, as He did for Adam and Eve. Then, after providing them with a way back to God’s favor, the second provision God gave to man was the startup agricultural know-how.
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.” (Genesis 3:17-18, emphasis mine)
He will provide kingdom businesses with His righteous revenues and not ungodly revenues which come from a rejection of the laws of God.
In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble. (Proverbs 15:6)
Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice. (Proverbs 16:8)
When righteous sales are called treasure, it implies that revenue generation is accompanied by contentment, joy, fulfillment, and thankfulness to God. Righteous businesspeople ought to believe they are rich and successful because they have Jesus, the Greatest Treasure. Actual sales become a big bonus.
God provides business owners with the gift of administration (1 Corinthians 12:28), which gives them the supernatural ability for financial management, making sure expenses are prudent. Part of financial management is controllership, and the Bible says that this is a godlike business function because He is the Blessed Controller of all things.
To keep your commission clean and above reproach until the final coming of Christ. This will be, in his own time, the final denouement of God, who is the blessed controller of all things, the king over all kings and the master of all masters. (1 Timothy 6:14- 15, Phillips New Testament, emphasis mine)
Joseph the Dreamer probably had this same gift which allowed him, as Prime Minister of Egypt, to control the use of grain during the time of plenty and had a surplus for the famine.
Finally, Jehovah-Jireh will gift the business with profits at a level He has predetermined at the foundation of the world.
Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. (1 Chronicles 29:12)
As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)