From Pastoral Work to Marketplace

“What is it like to be an entrepreneur?”

This is a question that I’ve often been asked since I made the switch from pastoral work to  entrepreneurship. I started a training and consultancy company in 2014 with the purpose of equipping people with an understanding of what they are good at and a knowledge of how they can apply their strengths in various life situations.

Being an entrepreneur comes with many challenges. The pursuit of success in the marketplace has revealed my areas of lack on a new level of intensity than I had ever experienced while I was in full-time ministry. Now, I feel an immense pressure to feed the family because a regular salary is no longer a given.  In the first few months, there was zero income. There were countless times where negative thoughts played out in my mind and I found myself asking, “Am I cut out for this?”

Having been in ministry for almost a decade, I must admit that there was a real fear that my skills-set would be irrelevant in the marketplace. Perhaps the fear played out too much in my mind because I found myself constantly doubting my own abilities. I wasn’t sure if was a matter of my mentality or my competence. I was struggling to craft solid business plans, getting leads, closing sales, budgeting, the list goes on. In the pursuit of success, I discovered that the idea of what is most important to me easily became muddled.

“Who do I serve?”

This question at its heart reveals the core motivations of why we do what we do. Examining the idea of who I serve, helped me reflect on my inner motivations. Perhaps the model answer to this question is “Jesus Christ” but an honest response required me to search my heart in a deeper way. I found that I was far from where I wanted to be.

For a sustained period, I experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety and the stress became evident in my outward behavior. Upon deeper reflection, I knew that my inner motivations had swayed. I realised that had not been serving the God who has loved me and called me into the marketplace. Instead, I was self-serving – I wanted to succeed for selfish reasons. These motivations were subtle but real. The discovery that I had believed many lies about myself revealed that they were mostly related to the different areas of lack I felt in my heart.

Lie 1: I am not good enough
I found this lie to be one of the easiest to believe. I might even go so  far as to say that this lie is probably the one everyone wrestles with, no matter how competent or experienced a person might be.

Symptoms:

  • Self-doubt
  • Beating ourselves up (even before others give feedback)

I remember giving a task to a particular staff in the company. Lisa (not her real name) came back with the task complete but before I even gave any feedback, she began criticising herself  by saying that she had given her best but the quality of work was probably not up to the mark. She went on to apologise for the effort. It was a voice I was familiar with and perpetuated the same lie I myself had struggled with – the lie that says, “I am not good enough”.

The fact of the matter was that the task was very well done. I shared about the lie I thought that Lisa had believed in and asked her develop  a new belief based on the question, “Who do we serve?”

God’s truth: I serve a God who gave us His BEST

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

If God the Father has given His best for each one of us, knowing that not everyone might accept His gift, then it encourages us to give our BEST (attitude) regardless of the results.

Lie 2: My worth is dependent on my performance
This is an extension of the first lie. Many people are trapped in the idea that our worth is based on performance and results.

Symptom:

  • The inability to recover quickly from a bad result.

Instead, a person wallows in self-pity and allows negative thoughts to fester.

There was a client who had requested for a re-run of a program delivered by my company but he made a specific request for me to be replaced because he (the client) felt that my performance as a trainer was not up to the mark. That was a huge blow to me and I lost my confidence for a few months.

This is ironic because according to the Strengths Finder test we conduct, I have a strength called, “Self-Assurance”. People with this strength tend to display an inner confidence and have an unusually high propensity for risk-taking. Statistically, this is also the rarest strength found amongst Singaporeans. I realised that believing in this lie disempowered my personal strength and caused me to doubt my own calling and identity.

God’s truth: I serve a God who loves us unconditionally

Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

If God chooses to love and accept me in spite of my imperfections, this shows that my worth is not dependent on my performance. Instead, my worth is dependent on what Jesus has done for me on the cross. His sacrifice has infinite value. Coming back to this truth helped me regain my confidence.

Lie 3: I don’t have any influence in this place
This lie is an extension to the first two lies but goes even deeper. Believing that we do not hold any influence over our environment is, in essence, the same as saying that the gospel has no impact on our profession.

In the beginning, when business was slow, I began dwelling on how my years in ministry and my deep love for God were irrelevant to my success in the marketplace. I allowed myself to entertain the idea that I had little or no influence  because I had not acquired the business experience necessary for me to excel in the marketplace.

Going back to The Beatitudes helped me recalibrate my thinking and enabled me to understand that the gospel impacts work paradoxically. God has given me a call to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”. 

There was a top regional leader in an MNC, who thanked me for a coaching session which resulted in the removal of some old mindsets. Eventually, that led to a reconciliation of a broken relationship between the leader and a subordinate. This feedback was a much needed encouragement and I felt the seed of influence within my heart starting to grow.

God’s truth: I serve the King of kings and Lord of lords

Revelation 17:14 – “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”

Upon the realization of this truth, I began to cultivate the attitude of being thankful. I started to pray and trust that my influence is a work of God. My role and purpose is to give God glory in whatever I do. Over time, God began to open up doors for me to influence families, teachers and students as well as top leaders in Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. I have also had the privilege of traveling to different nations to run my Strengths programs and equip others.

What are some lies you have believed in? Why don’t you ask God to take you on a journey of examining your inner motivations?

You might want to consider starting with this question – “Who do I serve?”

Victor was a former Client Relationship Manager in an American MNC before becoming a Youth Pastor in COOS. After close to a decade of full-time ministry work, Victor is now the Founder of Strengths School, a training and consultancy firm. He is passionate in disciple-making and believes in empowering people to be worshippers in their workplaces. He enjoys writing to equip others and writes regularly on his blog (victor-seet.com). His vision of “seeing every generation live out their full potential” empowers him to be a marketplace minister.

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