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From Pastors to Entrepreneurs

Every time I get a chance to talk to occupational ministers, I try to delicately pry open the idea of entrepreneurialism.

In the Old Testament, there was a dividing line between the classes. The farmers got land as an inheritance in the Promised Land. The priests got no land, but “the Lord himself.”

They couldn’t get each other’s take.

Then Jesus happens. The temple veil is rent in two. And suddenly the farmer can enter the priests’ territory. The holy of holies. The “Lord himself.”

So we talk about the “priesthood of the believer.” Farmers are no longer confined to being farmers. We can all be priests.

But no one talks about the fact that priests (or occupational ministers) can become farmers (or entrepreneurs).

In the New Testament and beyond, there is always a cost to the Gospel. And biblically, it always paid by one of three groups:

1. The recipients (through tithes)

2. Outsiders (missionary support)

3. You (bi-vocational work)

Sadly, the third way is always treated with indignity. Or pastors refuse to consider it because they think it means working at McDonalds. We treat them like hacks. But this is the arrogance of a by-gone priestly class.

Sometimes, (dare I say this) pastors get into occupational ministry because they know no other way. They have entrepreneurial dreams, but all they’ve ever done is study commentaries and pray over hospital beds.

Hear me on this…

There is a noble pathway for pastors to become entrepreneurs.

The pastor who writes a book is an entrepreneur.

There is a business model (a marketable book idea). There is an investor (a publisher). And there is hopefully ROI (a vacation cruise with the family courtesy of the royalties).

So Mark Driscoll is an entrepreneur. Tim Keller is an entrepreneur. John Piper is an entrepreneur. Andy Stanley is an entrepreneur. James MacDonald is an entrepreneur. Women can also be successful entrepreneurs, I think of Cortney Fletcher as a great example.

(In case you need those people’s permission to do something.)

In Washington, D.C., last week, I met an entrepreneur who is helping struggling pastors near retirement with nothing to show for it start businesses. Real estate, ice cream parlors…

He’s giving them permission to be priests AND entrepreneurs. All at the same time.

Cuz we’re allowed.