However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24 (NIV)
Where do you plan to take your business? What’s your exit plan? What will be your legacy as a business leader? In other words, how are you going out?
Some of us start businesses with a goal of maintaining an enterprise that can be operated for years to come and passed on to future generations in the family. Others start companies with the ultimate goal of attaining an IPO, selling the business, and moving on to another exciting venture.
A comprehensive exit strategy benefits you as well as your employees, investors, and constituents. It encourages you to give careful consideration to how your business will evolve and grow, and it forces you to establish succession strategies and a timetable for key targets and milestones. The section of your business plan, in which these strategies are outlined, is called the Exit Plan.
I recently had the honor of serving as a keynote speaker for Harvard Business School and one of the principles that I reinforced with their leaders is that it is important to realize that the legacy of your business and your legacy as an individual are inextricably connected.
You may already have an exit strategy for your business, or you might not have given much thought to one - - let alone considered its importance within a spiritual context. Don’t worry. Now is your opportunity to transcend beyond conventional perspectives of simply having an “exit plan” or “exit strategy” to actually establishing a divine exit plan for your life’s work that honors God.
Before we proceed, it’s important that we make the distinction between two commonly intertwined concepts: legacy and inheritance.
Legacy versus Inheritance
I like the way John Maxwell compares and contrasts the concepts of legacy and inheritance in The Maxwell Leadership Bible. He states that anyone can leave an inheritance. An inheritance is something, such as money or material possessions, you leave for your family or loved ones that may bring temporary happiness but fades as it is spent or used. On the contrary, he defines a legacy as something that you leave in your family, such as spiritual values, that permanently transforms them and lives on long after you die.
As Christians, we are called to manifest God’s glory on the earth so that His will is done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2). We are chosen by God for the High calling of priestly work
(1 Peter 2:9) and called to radically transform the world. For those of us who are planted in the business arena, the commercial marketplace is one of our target domains.
God is not only concerned about you getting into heaven, but He’s also concerned about you getting heaven into the business world. As Christian business leaders, we are to bring heaven to the earth in general and to the business world in particular. So, how do we, as His ambassadors in the workplace and the marketplace, accomplish this?
Following are three (3) principles to support you on your journey of leaving a positive, lasting legacy.
- Be a Business World Changer.
- Leave a Spiritual Legacy in the Commercial Arena
- Realize that your history is actually a part of His Story.
Be a Business World Changer
As business leaders, we often think about the challenging and changing business environment we face, but we seldom think about how we should be challenging and changing the business environment we face in profound ways. Commit to challenging and changing the business world. Don’t let the business world change you in a negative way. Apply your Biblically based convictions to the commercial arena and become a true business world changer.
Don’t just seek to be successful in your profession just to benefit yourself or your family. Seek to benefit and be significant to future generations for the glory and kingdom of God. God told Abraham: “I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2, NIV). In this way, God’s plan wasn’t just to bless Abraham as an individual, but it was to bless him so that he could also be a blessing to others. Likewise, our blessings are not just for us and our families; they are also for others—our colleagues, employees, customers, clients, suppliers, and other associates.
Leave a Spiritual Legacy in the Commercial Arena
Make sure your pursuit of professional success reflects your spiritual obedience to God and not just your own egocentric desires. We’re not in business just to make money, be happy, and die. Make your business and ultimately your life count. Let them serve as blessings to generations of people who come after you so that they too may know God and walk in purpose. Vow to leave a spiritual legacy in the commercial arena.
The Bible says that David served God’s purpose for his generation and died (Acts 13:36). How are you using your God-given abilities and talents to serve your generation? In what ways are you storing up blessings for future generations? As God’s sons and daughters, we must be committed to leaving positive testimonies and life-enhancing legacies.
Your History is a Part of His Story
Jesus says that just as God sends Him, He, in turn, sends us (John 20:21). This means that our stories become joined with God’s bigger story as we serve as His ambassadors. So, your history is a part of His Story.
The greatest legacy of all is the knowledge of God (Philippians 3:8; Psalm 78:1-8; 3 John 1:4). This knowledge of God blesses others while they are on earth and once they transition from this life. While they are on earth, their relationship with God gives them innate joy! Joy irrelevant of a spouse, house, career, car, tax bracket, and social status. And, their relationship with God offers ultimate salvation and eternal life.
The Bible says that a wise man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, or his grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22). But, let’s go deeper. I challenge you to think beyond your own family lineage and bloodline. One of the greatest gifts that we as Christian business leaders can give God is a generation of future business leaders who know Him and who understand the importance of connecting their business plans with God’s purpose and plan for their lives. Because, ultimately, we want to hear God declare: “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21-23, NLT).