One of the most difficult decisions a business leader must make is what to do when you hit that proverbial stonewall. Do we pound on the wall until we breakthrough, or do we quit?
Jesus said, "And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down'" (Luke 13:7-9 NASB).
Consider Balaam. He was riding his donkey on an important errand and an angel of the Lord blocked the road (see Numbers 22). Three times Balaam tried to kick the donkey, and three times the donkey refused to move, seeing the danger ahead. Finally, the Lord opened Balaam's eyes and he saw that donkey had actually saved his life!
We need to adopt a process that will allow us to know the difference between obstacles that require us to stop and the obstacles that require us to persevere.
#1 - We need to look at God's Word. We must recognize that "all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB).
God will never ask us to do something that is in conflict with His Word. For example, if ethics are compromised, we should take that as God's direction to stop. The more we read and study God's Word, the more prepared we are to employ that knowledge.
#2 - Ask the Lord in prayer. James wrote, "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5 NASB). Pray for God's guidance, asking what He would have you do. At times, I find myself praying that the Lord will do what I want. However, when we ask the Lord to show us when we should stop or go forward, He is faithful and delights in our humbleness when we genuinely ask.
#3 - We need to seek the counsel of others. King Solomon wrote, "a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel" (Proverbs 1:5 NASB) and "without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed" (Proverbs 15:22 NASB). Several years ago, as a CEO in one company, I was very reluctant to override the counsel of our management team. Business leaders like being independent and making decisions, so bringing in other counsel means that we give up part of that decision-making ability. In our humaneness we don't like to feel constrained, but that constraint might very well keep us on the best business path.
#4 - Look at the circumstances. Solomon asked, "How long will you fools fight the facts?" (Proverbs 1:22 NLT). Mark wanted to start an auto repair business, but was unable to find suitable space to rent. He finally took this as part of God's direction. A few months later, a major employer closed up and Mark would have been in deep trouble if he had opened his mechanic shop.
#5 - Determine if you at peace with a decision. Paul wrote, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7 NASB). If we, for any reason, are just unsettled, disturbed, or ill at ease, we need to pay attention! That may be the Lord's check on our not moving forward. If you are married, ask your spouse to join you in the process, and if he/she is not at peace either, that could be the Lord saying, "Stop!" By following these 5 steps, you will know when to stop kicking the donkey and when to persist and move forward. Working this Biblical process will determine the difference between success and failure.
Steve Marr is a business/ministry consultant and author of the book Business Proverbs. His daily radio feature "Business Proverbs" is heard on 1,000 radio stations. He is the former CEO of the fourth largest import-export firm in the United States.
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Proverbs for Business, by Steve Marr
Proverbs for Business is a collection of 250 one-page readings on specific workplace questions. You can apply the Biblical insights to many, many relevant workplace situations. Based on the book of Proverbs, it is written to provide Godly wisdom to those working at all levels of an organization - from the owner, CEO, manger, or the newest employee.