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The Savvy Christian Entrepreneur: Interview With Dick Staub (Part 3)

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Dick Staub is not afraid of the hard questions. In his recent book The Culturally Savvy Christian, he's also not afraid to offer some hard solutions. The book is a manifesto for cultural and spiritual change, and Dick Staub calls us to task. The Christian's role in culture, he argues, is not merely to critique or imitate. God can work through his people to change the culture itself.

Dick Staub is no stranger to interviews, though he has more experience on the other side of the table. From 1987 to 1999 on "The Dick Staub Show," he interviewed the shapers of American culture—authors, business leaders, educators, politicians, futurists, theologians, filmmakers, musicians and trend-watchers. Staub has also served on the board of North Park University, Martin Marty's Public Religion Project, Image (A Journal of Art, Faith & Mystery) and advises the C.S. Lewis Foundation.

Recently, Staub spoke with TheHighCalling.org about his recent book, his ideas, and his challenge for Christians everywhere. Whether we work in media, business, education, medicine, or law, his advice is the same: Get off the pew and go change the world through your daily work.

<< Read Part 1, Get Out of Your Cocoon
<< Read Part 2, Get Back in the Game


What would an entrepreneurially savvy Christian look like?

Is this entrepreneurial person someone for whom God is of central importance? That's the first question. Do I understand that what I'm doing should be done for the glory of God?

Do I understand that because I'm created in God's image, the work that I create, the product that I make, the film that I make, the book that I write should be excellent and should reach across the intellectual, spiritual, and creative capacities of humans.

It ought to be generative. It ought to be life-giving. It ought to enrich people's lives. It ought to help them feel like they are more human because of the encounter that they have with this product or this art.

And should it also reach a whole bunch of people?

That is where your entrepreneurial ingenuity kicks in. I think what we need today is a new brand of missional entrepreneurs.

By the way, entrepreneurs are very much a reflection of the image of God in their creativity. A creative person can see things that other people don't see. They can create something out of what seems like nothing. They can put together pieces in new ways that haven't been seen before. They communicate through this product so that the heavens are telling the glory of God. They find ways of communicating through what they're doing and then they distribute it as broadly as they can. So the entrepreneurial enterprise, I think, is an expression of the image of God in a person.

But I don't simply see my entrepreneurism as a way of making money—though there's nothing wrong with making money. It just shouldn't be my first and foremost driver.

I have to ask, "How can I package this in a way that helps people realize it is what they need and what they want? How can I keep my production costs down so that I can have the margins that will make this successful?"

Missional entrepreneurs do more than look for a ready market where they can make some quick money. They have a long-term vision of how they can use entrepreneurial skills to create a richer culture.

What is the role of technology for a Christian Entrepreneur?

Technology is something that we need to recognize as Marshall McLuhen said, "Works us over completely." To be savvy about technology is to recognize that technology in the hands of humans can either be used to elevate our human life or to dehumanize us.

Can you explain what you mean?

Just look at cell phones. It's a great, great thing for me to be able every day to talk to my daughter from Seattle. She's in New York city teaching in the inner city. I can call my daughter every day, and because we're on the same phone service, we have no additional charge for that call.

That's a great, great thing for technology.

However, if my daughter in New York City calls me on my cell phone while I'm in the car with my wife and my daughter who still lives at home, and I spend all of my time talking to my daughter in New York on the phone while ignoring my wife and my daughter in the car, there's a certain dehumanizing effect that has started to happen.

In the book, you talk about the sin of indifference. How do Christians fight indifference toward technology and their work?

This goes back to making God of central importance. You know, Jesus rose up a great while before the day. He spent time alone praying. He was a person who knew how to meditate on Scripture before he would enter the day. Then he had this uncanny ability to know what was going on around him and to calibrate his will each day to the will of his father.

That's what each of us are called to do. Whether we're in business or art or education—whatever we do. We're called to know how to calibrate our will on a moment-by-moment basis to God.

We have to be awake spiritually. We have to be savvy to what's going on around us. We need to cultivate our use of technology and culture with an eye towards how we use them in a way that glorifies God.

What is a way that you were spiritually renewed or transformed recently?

Last night I did a book reading for a home group that meets once a month to talk about intellectual ideas. These were all kinds of people, business people and all kinds of walks of life.

One school teacher got this really wonderful sense of how her creativity and artistic calling to create culture is happening in her daily work in the classroom.

And a businessman was reflecting on Eric Liddell's line in Chariots of Fire. Liddell says when he runs fast, he feels God's pleasure. He was talking about how important that was to him as a businessman. He realized the reason he got pleasure out of being a good businessman was because that was the way God made him.

I've had conversations with people about the theological themes of Spiderman or Wilco, a recording group whose newest album has some reflections on theological issues. We're doing a show in a pub, a podcast in a pub called the Kindlings Muse at Hales Ales Brewery and Pub. Looking over the list of recent shows, we did one on the theology of Paul Simon. We simply listened to the lyrics of Paul Simon's most recent album and asked how they relate to every day life.

Daily conversations that bridge faith and culture. Understanding faith. Understanding culture. Being savvy about each. Understanding each. Interpreting each to the other. That's the daily call of faith.

Read more about Dick Staub at DickStaub.com.

Listen to Dick Staub's podcast at TheKindlingsMuse.com.

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