I want to talk to you today about being careful who you imitate in business.
It's natural for us to imitate. We've been imitating our parents since birth. We have our parent’s nature, their behavior, and their actions. Chances are you walk, talk, and do things like your parents.
Imitating is a survival mechanism we can't unlearn; we'll always imitate. The question becomes: once we leave our parent's home and start to do life on our own, who will we imitate next?
When I started my first business in 2005, I imitated some of my "seemingly" successful clients in their leadership styles and ways of doing business. My parents weren't entrepreneurs, so I was learning to do business alone.
As social media grew and access to content on YouTube and online courses became more prevalent, I started imitating entrepreneurs worldwide and learning from their tips and tricks.
Then, in 2008, I started going back to church and deepening my relationship with God. As I grew in my faith, I noticed that some of the things I learned from so-called business gurus weren't always in line with God's ways. Even strategies and tactics I learned from clients and associates that I admired turned out to be somewhat contradictory to the ways I was learning in the Bible.
As success-driven entrepreneurs, we're always looking for an edge in business, so we're out there at conferences and webinars learning the latest in sales, marketing, leadership, and every other topic in business. And while most of it is practical information we can apply in our businesses, we must be careful to separate the content from the person and not fall into the trap of idolizing and imitating the teacher.
As followers of Christ, we are to become imitators of God alone.
Our parents did their best to be an example because they knew we would be imitators of their ways. And now that we don't live with our parents - by design - God is now in their place to become the example of how to live and run our businesses.
In his letter to Ephesians, Paul calls on the children of God to be imitators of Christ.
The Bible says
Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; (Ephesians 5:1 AMP)
Paul commands those who follow God to imitate Him. This means striving to do as He would do. Paul also explains the mindset which ought to motivate Christians towards obedience. Believers in Christ enjoy a Father-child relationship with God. A child naturally seeks to copy what he or she sees in a loving father. Believers in Jesus are to likewise copy what they learn about God.
Your entrepreneurial journey is meant to bring you near your Heavenly Father so that you might learn His ways and become more like Him. How do you learn His ways? You can’t imitate a person you know nothing about, so you must learn all you can about the Lord from His word.
As you run your day-to-day business operations, you must put into practice everything you continue to learn about Him. You are to do the things you see Him doing, and you are to avoid the things He avoids. You are to be like God in every respect in your respective marketplace.
In reality, God is commanding you to do something impossible on your own. Left up to yourself, you could never be an imitator of God. You simply cannot imitate God through your own power.
While we Kingdom-driven leaders can’t be holy on our own, as redeemed children of God, we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to live like Him at the office, act like Him in meetings, walk like Him along our entrepreneurial journey, and talk like Him to all the people we do business with.
God has empowered us and enabled us to live holy lives and operate God-first businesses for His glory. We aren't imitators of our parents or some New York Times best-selling business guru; we are the sons and daughters of God. We have been redeemed by His grace, adopted into His family, and partakers of His very nature.
If you’ve been idolizing or imitating someone else in your business life, pray to God that you will learn to become an imitator of Jesus Christ - like beloved children who are ever near the parent, learning, observing, and growing. Imitators of Christ can turn the business world upside down for His glory!