But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today. - Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV)
As business leaders, we are inundated with numbers. Sales, profit, revenue, dividend payouts, market share, ROI, PE ratios, compensation levels, tax brackets, income statements, cash-flow projections, balance sheets, and budgets are often a part of our daily narrative. Numbers.
From a global perspective, many of us are focused on stock market indices such as the S&P Index, NASDAQ, NYSE Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, Korea’s KOSPI Index, Britain’s FTSE-100, France’s CAC-40, and Germany’s DAX 30. More numbers.
The core of most of these numbers, or metrics, is centered on one concept: Profitability.
Business growth and profitability are certainly important for us as His ambassadors in the workplace and in the marketplace. But, how do we keep all of these numbers in the right perspective? A Godly, Kingdom perspective?
One way to keep our focus on God when it comes to the numbers, is to reflect on what His Word says. We know that it is God who gives us the ability to gain wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18) and that He desires for us to prosper (3 John 1:2). Let’s take a moment to compare and contrast the concepts of profitability and prosperity.
Profitability vs. Prosperity
We know that profitability is generally defined as the state or condition of being profitable or yielding a financial profit. An enterprise is typically deemed profitable or unprofitable based purely on its financial status and results. In this way, profitability is defined based primarily on the parameters of financial results.
Prosperity, on the contrary, is generally defined as a prosperous or successful condition or a state of good fortune. The concept of prosperity is broad in scope and includes a number of elements and criteria that may deem an enterprise or individual as being prosperous. Unlike profitability, prosperity is not based primarily on financial parameters.
One way to think of prosperity and profitability, in relation to one another, is that prosperity is an overarching umbrella concept, which includes many different forms of success with profitability being just one of them. Unlike profitability, prosperity denotes a broader range of richness and wealth. Prosperity is not just about money. Prosperity is a state of spiritual and material abundance that extends beyond the temporal boundaries of the world. Prosperity transcends beyond the worldly parameters of economics, materialism, and consumerism. Prosperity extends beyond revenue targets, compensation packages, and tax brackets.
The business world values profitability, but God values prosperity. “Trusting in the Lord leads to prosperity” (Proverbs 28:25, NLT). As Christian business leaders, we must detach ourselves from the world’s value system and not relegate ourselves to just focusing on profitability. We must raise our value systems to a Higher level by pursuing total prosperity instead of just profitability. Don’t pursue money. Don’t worship the numbers. Pursue and worship God. Follow His financial plans for your business, and you will prosper (2 Chronicles 26:5). Prosperity should be our primary concern, and profitability should be secondary because profitability is simply one aspect of prosperity. The only place where profitability should come before prosperity is in the dictionary.