How I follow Jesus in my business
I still can’t believe maternity leave happened.
When I was first praying through maternity leave dates, I really felt like my first day of maternity leave was supposed to be December 15th (a Saturday) and I was supposed to go back to work in mid-April sometime. I shrugged off the December 15th date because (1) I didn’t think it was possible with the amount of work I had to do to actually get to maternity leave and (2) I felt like that was too much time off.
Now, if I had ever said this out loud or shared this thought process with Isaac, it would have been easy to find my limiting beliefs. I would have decided to listen to the instinct I had while I was praying, instead of the instinct I had when I was worrying.
At the beginning of December, when I was writing out everything I needed to do before Hannah came, I started to schedule something for December 19th and felt the Holy Spirit pause me.
I had this major hesitancy to schedule anything for that day, so I asked God, “Should I not schedule anything for this day?” Immediately, I had an overwhelming feeling inside me that I should not schedule anything for the 19th or after.
It wasn’t a feeling of fear. The feeling was actually very encouraging and uplifting and seemed to surge through my veins.
Sometimes God responds quickly with distinct words. But He is so creative that sometimes He just lets the Holy Spirit move so strongly it’s like my body is having a physical response to what the Holy Spirit is “saying.” Even though it sounds a little weird, I like to just say, “I sensed the Holy Spirit tell me…”
So I sensed the Holy Spirit tell me not to schedule anything for the 19th or after.
I had also felt that in November when I was scheduling work. I had felt the Holy Spirit urge me not to schedule anything for November 28th when I was praying and working through my calendar. On November 27th, I ended up going into labor with Hannah and spent November 28th in Columbia monitoring Hannah to see if she was in distress or anything like that.
My first full day of maternity leave was December 20th. On the 19th, I ended up tidying just a few things. When I realized I was going to need to finalize a few things on the 19th, I started feeling so stressed thinking I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do. But the Lord encouraged me and reminded me that He had just told me not to schedule anything for that day.
I think it’s incredible that God wants to help us when we are scheduling our work for the month or year! He is a help. He’s not the bossiest guy you know even though it’s easy to see Him that way when you start hearing words like “obedience.”
The thing is that obeying Him looks a lot more like the story I just shared and a lot less like a mean guy telling you how bad you are, how great he is, and it’s time for you to bow down. He’s not like that at all. He’s kind, empowering, encouraging and He equips us for a great call even if no one else believes we can amount to anything.
So I ignored the Holy Spirit when I felt like December 15th should be my first day of maternity leave — chalking it up to a sugar rush or something — and listened when I heard not to schedule anything on November 28th and December 19th. All of this brings me to...
One of the most common questions I get on Instagram: How do I start to follow Jesus in my business?
This is such a beautiful question and if we were sitting down for coffee, I’d tell you that talking on this subject has always been a passion of mine. Not because I have it all figured out, but because I make a lot of mistakes and I don’t mind sharing those mistakes with the world.
Because the grace that followed those mistakes was more than enough. And because after all that grace on every mistake or I’m-just-going-to-do-my-own-thing moment with God, there was a powerful moment.
God loves us and He cares about how we use our time and our resources, not because He’s the bossy guy upstairs, but because He wants more for our lives than we can even want for ourselves. He has immeasurably more for us. No infertility, no miscarriage, nothing can stop the goodness He has planned for us.
How I follow Jesus in my business
And really the title of this post should read “How I want to always follow Jesus in my business” because, like you just read, I’m not perfect at this. But when I turn my head so I cannot hear His voice or when I chalk up the Holy Spirit to a sugar rush or when I have forgotten or delayed or completely disregarded what He said because it didn’t make sense, there was enough grace for that. And it’s that grace that held out a hand so that I could pick myself up off the ground, wipe off my scuffed up knees, and run again.
So let’s run.
1) Test the voice
If you aren’t clear on the voice you hear (or sense), then test it. God isn’t going to say anything that goes against what He’s already said. So basically you can just weigh what you’re hearing against the Bible.
If you’re hearing that you should gossip about someone, kill someone, steal something from someone, lie, or anything like that, that’s not the voice of God. But, hey! You now know what the enemy’s voice sounds like and if you’re in Christ, the power within you is greater than any power that stands against God. Ask Jesus to defeat that voice. Ask God’s people to pray over you. You’re closer to hearing God’s voice than you think.
If you’re hearing that you should take that person lunch or that you should encourage that person and tell them their life matters, I’ve learned that’s the Lord. Always weigh your own heart to make sure you aren’t trying to gain anything — fame, recognition, etc. — by serving those people.
But I’ve learned that anything good is from the Lord. If you know the good you should do, then you should do it. And likewise, James 4:17.
2) Do everything He says
Do everything He says even if it doesn’t make sense or it seems crazy.
People saying you need to do X to have a successful business? If God tells you to do something else, decide first that you’re going to do what He said. Then, ask all your questions. You can even complain to God about what He tells you to do. But if you decide to do what He says no matter what, the fruit of your complaining or “wrestling” with God will be really good.
3) Pray through the calendar
If I’m feeling anxious, I take my planner into the nursery when I’m nursing Hannah and I pray over each task. Sometimes I will feel the Lord bring all of my attention to one thing I’m really supposed to do, sometimes I will feel the Lord tell me to not do a specific thing, and most of the time I feel like I just receive peace over my day and favor for everything on my list that I am called to do!
I also like to pray through my calendar at the beginning of the month. When should I be writing blog posts, emails? How much time should I spend on the things I know I need to do? It’s also really important to me to not just fill my time with the things everyone in the creative world says I should be doing.
4) Don’t do things just because they say “should”
No shame! No shame on people in the creative industry for giving their advice. No shame on you for feeling pressure to do all the things.
But we are children of God and we don’t have to live under a heavy weight of “shoulds” in our businesses. God may not be calling you to email marketing right now. Yes, it’s a great business strategy. But God may have some other wonderful thing for you. Maybe that’s a different strategy or maybe that’s time with Him so He can pour out His creativity on you.
God may not be calling you to ____________ in your business right now. Step into all He says and receive a blessing. I’ve noticed there are often external blessings that happen from following God, but I’ve also noticed that the biggest blessing of all of it is just doing what He says!
5) Pray through business purchases
Just last week I was wanting to buy some video equipment and really wanted this specific piece of gear that would let me do some really cool things.
#storyofthecreativeentrepreneurlife ...am I right or what?
I was really considering the gear, prayed about it briefly and felt just off about buying it. Bummer. I reevaluated it thinking maybe God could just change His mind. And I started getting sick to my stomach.
Okay, I get it. Don’t get the gear.
I complained about that to God. No, really. It’s okay to tell Him you don’t like certain things. I’ve lamented about not having almond milk before. Anything goes with Him.
Guess what happened next? A few days later, I was doing some research and realized that instead of buying that gear for 10k, I could actually buy a piece of gear for 2k that would supplement the gear I already have and let me do this video thing I really wanted to do. I immediately sensed the Holy Spirit giving me freedom to get the gear.
Sidenote: I didn’t purchase the gear yet, but when I’m ready to pull the plug on that, I know I have freedom to do it!
Ask God for help. When the bookings aren’t coming in or you’re not selling enough mugs or no one is coming into your store on Mondays, ask God for help.
The solution might be obvious, but if you ask for His help and wait, He will show up.
He likes to be your hero. He thinks you’re worth whatever it takes.
7) Make Him your business partner
Tithe on the personal income you take from your business. Watch Him pour out His storehouses on you for giving Him the first 10% of your income. Isaac and I have seen this first hand and the Bible is clear that we can test Him on our tithe (Malachi 3). If you’ve been tithing for a while, it may take a little longer to see breakthrough, but breakthrough is coming.
We have online giving set up so that 10% of our paychecks is automatically given to our church. In January, our entire heating system was supposed to bite the dust in 30 days. It’s still going! Sure, we are going to have to replace it, but this is giving us time to save up for all of it!
This might sound crazy, but this is how much I believe that God cares about things like this: I literally go and stand in front of our furnace/air vent thing and I pray for it. Three months later and it’s still going!
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I hope this is encouraging to you. I hope you feel empowered and inspired to run after all God has for you. The world is full of distractions and as a creative entrepreneur, you know the business world is soaked with distractions and “shoulds” and rubber stamps marked “failure.”
When you’re soaked with distractions, fix your eyes. Drop everything and get in the word or turn on music or go to your car and just listen. He will help you.
When you hear "shoulds" and get marked with stamps named “failure,” you let those words fall right off.
No one gets to be your master and call you names... except for God. But God has marked you with words like redeemed, loved, courageous, and God has made you His friend.