Why Excellence Matters for Christian Entrepreneurs
By Henry Kaestner. Henry Kaestner is Managing Principal of Sovereign's Capital and the co-founder of Faith Driven Entrepreneur, a movement dedicated to gathering Christ-following entrepreneurs and equipping them, so they can fulfill their call to create and transform the world around them.
In my role as managing principal of Sovereign’s Capital, I find plenty of people in my circle who are reluctant to invest in “Christian funds.” Why? Because they associate “Christian” with “second-rate.”
This is why excellence matters if you’re an entrepreneur whose faith is a driving force in the way you do business. Faith Driven Entrepreneurs represent more than just themselves and their businesses—they represent the God they worship. We reflect the faith community we’ve aligned with. It’s this very idea that should propel us to go above and beyond when it comes to the quality of our work.
We believe that we were created in the image of a God who worked six days out of seven and whose work was good. Praise God he didn’t cut corners when creating the plants and animals! What makes us think that we should be any different?
I once heard this quote from Jim Carrey that has always stuck with me: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Talk about a bleak idea! You mean to tell me that at the end of this mountain climb, once I obtain the status and success I’m constantly striving for, it won’t be enough? Hitting my financial targets, receiving the recognition I deserve, making the blockbuster sale won’t satisfy me?
Selfish accomplishments never satisfy. Hitting my goals, building my business, receiving my recognition won’t do it. There’s an emptiness in pursuing excellence purely for excellence’s sake. When we’re trying our best to boost our own self-esteem, we’ll eventually find that our best isn’t enough. Then, the results and the process of obtaining them become a burden.
When we’re excellent for God, by contrast, we find joy in the process. And if we’re honest with ourselves, I think we’ll realize that while meeting our goals is great, there’s only so much happiness that we can bring ourselves. Serving ourselves is a dead end, no matter how good we are at it.
But Faith Driven Entrepreneurs have a different approach. We set goals, take action, and work through an efficient process to meet set standards. But none of that requires our best until we put God in his rightful place. He’s both our reason for starting and our motivation for finishing well.
I am not the light at the end of my own tunnel. A luxurious retirement plan isn’t my goal. My goal, as a believer, is to stand before God at the end of my life, knowing that I’ve placed my very best sacrifice at his feet, knowing that I will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
If you’re still not convinced, let me ask you this: If the god you worship isn’t worthy of your best, then how weak is your god?
My God is full of joy and life and grace and mercy and excellence and faithfulness and beauty and wonder and so much more. And I can’t wait to get out of bed to serve him with every waking minute of my life.
Are there days when the work is hard, and I don’t want to do it? Of course. I’m a human. I can’t achieve excellence for myself day after day. I just can’t.
But I can do it for God. And I can’t see a better way of living and working than living and working for God.
As Colossians says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (3:23). If we’re working for the Lord, then excellence is the base expectation. Excellence is the bare minimum. There’s no room for cutting corners, for settling for less than our best, because the God we worship never did.
It’s hard to imagine wobbly chairs coming out of the carpentry shop in Nazareth. I don’t see Jesus slapping an ichthus fish on the bottom of passable tables and selling them to anyone. Everything in his life reflected God. That means his craftsmanship was perfect.
Praise God that expectation isn’t placed upon us—our lack of perfection is the reason for our faith in Jesus. But also praise God that he gives us the chance to strive toward some form of excellence this side of heaven.
That’s what you get to do every day. You get to wake up and think, How can I best reflect the image of God to the unbelieving world? Part of the answer to that question is doing a great job.
Our God is amazing, and the fact that we get to give our best to him every day is an absolute gift. Even better is the fact that he can take our efforts and turn them into a witness for his character. Because when we’re excited to work hard, we stand out. When we’re working hard to do excellent work without the added pressure of needing some sort of perfection, we look different from the world. And people will want to know where that comes from.
The simple truth is this: God asks for our best work—not what our culture has come to define as the best “Christian version” of our work.
Christianity should be synonymous with excellence for two reasons. One, we reflect the image of a perfect (not merely excellent) God. He has raised us up to the standard of perfection by sending Christ to live and die in our place, and we get to live in that freedom every day. Working hard and achieving excellence is a privilege.
And two, our perfect God can use our work to share his love with an unbelieving world. When people interact with us, our services, and our products, there’s the possibility that they will notice something different, something that sets us apart. And we get to point them to God when that happens.
We’re not doing great work to receive the glory, nor are we trying hard to achieve perfection on this side of heaven. We’re working hard because there is great joy in giving our best to the God who has already given his best on our behalf.
Adapted from Faith-Driven Entrepreneur: What It Takes to Step Into Your Purpose and Pursue Your God-Given Call to Create by Henry Kaestner, J. D. Greear, and Chip Ingram. Copyright ©2021. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Author photo of Henry Kaestner taken by Jill Guven, copyright © 2017. All rights reserved.