I’m venturing into a territory I never ever thought I would. If you had told me a few years ago that I would one day be running business(es), I would’ve laughed + scoffed at the idea. I am probably the last candidate anyone would choose for the task – clueless about all things related to business and money.
Then five months ago, the Lord told me to start the Godly Womanhood shop.
It seemed like a crazy step of faith. I was terrified of failure and felt overwhelmingly under-qualified. But the Lord assured + encouraged me through all the steps. “Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows. I’ll look after you,“ was His promise.
So I said yes. He desires obedience more than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). I stumbled my way in and spent all our wedding savings starting up the business… and got back all of it in the first month.
Five months later, we launched our second, amazing new Mourning Into Dancing collection on a scale larger than I could’ve imagined.
With this second collection, God told me to go even further – we doubled what we spent on new products than we did with the first collection, plus gave away most of what we earned in the first month. Yet somehow, the money has been pouring back in at FOUR TIMES the rate.
Are numbers the singular/ruling factor to determine success? Not by a long yard. But it is one of the ways God shows me that He’s in it with me.
I’ve been constantly amazed at how God has been showing Himself to be the CEO of the business. How He established a business out of a novice like me, I’ll never fully understand. But I know He did it.
Today, I’d like to share some principles that have guided me well on the journey. I’ve been getting questions about how to run a God-centered, God-glorifying Social business, and this is it! These principles are important for your business + life + everything in between, and I hope it encourages you some.
Principle #1: Dedicating Your First Fruits
The concept of First Fruits has been around since the beginning of humanity. There is something undeniably special about first fruits – studies show that first borns around the world have higher IQs, perform better in school, and are more accomplished; all 12 men to have walked on the moon were either eldest or only children. And who can deny that special place in our hearts that hold memories of our first kiss, first love, first pay check…? When we offer the First Fruit (the best of what we have) to God, it tells Him that we trust Him to always provide for us.
To lay the foundation for the principle of first fruits, let’s examine the first occurrence of a first fruits offering in the Bible:
“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” — Genesis 4: 3-5
What was the difference between Cain and Abel’s sacrifice? The difference was that Cain gave a gratitude offering, the bare minimum (or the modern day church’s version of 10% tithe) – he did not act by faith . Abel gave a first fruit offering (today’s equivalent of his first pay check). This would have been a very costly, maybe even heartbreaking sacrifice on his part.
The first fruits principle has to do with being willing to give to God what we love the most, and being surrendered and yielded to Him.
Giving a first fruits offering requires faith,“By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.” (Hebrews 11:4)
The first fruits offering is based on faith: faith in the fact that God is the provider for all our needs, and the rewarder of all who would seek Him.
God has never failed to pour back into my life a double portion every time I’ve dedicated to Him the First Fruits of my life. We gave back everything the Godly Womanhood shop earned in our first month and He just kept pouring back
But this principle doesn’t just work in business or with money. It applies to every area of our lives – hobbies, treasures, time (which leads us to the next point), etc.
Keep looking for ways to give the best of what you have to God, knowing that it all comes from Him any way. I promise that He will give you everything you need and so much more.
Principal #2: Prayer, Your Most Valuable Resource
Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” and I have found that to be a powerful principle to live by. We must learn to see prayer as the most powerful and efficient use of our time.
The best (fruitful + productive) days I have had always began with prayer. I might spend half of my day in worship + the Word + waiting on Him, and end up achieving more than I do on days that I jump straight into a 12-hour work day.
Dedicating the first fruits of our day to prayer tells God that we trust Him as the higher power – that we can only do all things through Christ who strengthens us. As we do this, our souls are being conditioned to look to God for wisdom + vision… and that’s when we begin to run with success.
Principal #3: Give Yourself Permission to Fail
When I first started the shop, I had the privilege to be mentored by a couple of God-fearing, God-hearing business people who gave me a most valuable gift: the permission to fail. They told me of how God gives room for His children to learn, explore and make mistakes as they do His work. They gave me the courage to keep trying and not let failures/setbacks intimidate me into passivity. They lifted off the guilt and condemnation that had been sitting heavily on my heart and prophesied God’s heart and His delight in me.
They gave me the gift of courage. Where His Spirit is, there is freedom – freedom to make mistakes, freedom to dream big wild dreams, freedom to fail, and freedom to pick ourselves up and keep going. Don’t let (the fear of) disappointment steal your courage; God is on your side and He will come through for you. He’s got you, you can do this.
Principal #4: Choose Partnerships Carefully
The book of Proverbs is the business man/woman’s handbook. It is full of wisdom and practical advice for dealing with all kinds of people + problems.
One message that is repeated a lot through the book is this: Choose who you associate with. Very, very, carefully.
He who walks with the wise will be wise (Proverbs 13:20), but he who walks with bad company will be corrupted by them (Proverbs 22:24-25, 1 Corinthians 15:33).
This could apply to marriage, friendships, and business partnerships. Entering into any one of these is, essentially, making a covenant with the other person. And covenants are very powerful things. Blessings and curses flow through covenant.
As the Godly Womanhood shop began to grow, partnership offers started coming in from all over the world. All of them were, as far as I could tell, wonderful people running wonderful businesses. The dilemma was deciding who to work with and who not to. I’ve made many mistakes along the way (and still make mistakes now) and learned the hard way that the only partnerships that bear fruit are the ones that have God’s stamp of approval on them.
It doesn’t always make sense when I look at it with human logic. For example, God has told me to turn down some offers that would have greatly increased followership + sales. On the other hand, He has also told me to accept some partnerships where I would give my service and get nothing in return. Many times, all options were good but God only wanted me to make one specific alliance simply because that’s where He had ordained my fruit would come from. Often, God tells us to leave our seat with the Kings and go sit with the broken. In all the ways, there’s always fruit when we obey. It may not look like the fruit we were expecting, but it is far more valuable.
Principal #5: The 80-20 Rule
The 80-20 principle simply means that 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of our inputs. That means that 80% of our time is usually spent wastefully. Think of all that we could accomplish if we flipped that ratio!
Identify the top 3 priorities in each area of your life (work, ministry, personal), and then work towards focusing 80% of your time on them.
Principal #6: Choose Inspiration Not Competition
Learn whatever you can from others. Be inspired by them. But ultimately, raise your own voice.
You’ve been given a unique voice + message from heaven, and you are the fullest blessing to the world when you are most fully you.
Principal #7: Run With A Vision
It all comes down to this: Vision.
Without vision, our lives don’t move forward. We can keep running, but it’ll keep us running in circles that go nowhere. Without vision, we leap at any shiny golden opportunity, not knowing that it wasn’t ours to take and that it led us one step further from our destination.’
“Write the vision.. So he may RUN who reads it. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2: 2-3
A great revival is coming to this earth, the likes of which no generation before us has ever seen. What we choose to do now will determine where we’ll end up when that wave comes. I don’t know about you, but I want to be riding those waves.
Let this be our prayer as we travel this journey: Lord give me vision; Your vision and Your wisdom. Let me in on Your plans, so my life may be poured out for Your glory to lasting fruitfulness.
Be done with all the extra things; come back, take up and run with the dreams that God’s placed within you.