The Flourishing Culture Podcast Series
“The Competitive Advantage of Faith-Driven Entrepreneurs“
November 1, 2021
Intro: Today, our topic is entrepreneurship, and our conversation is with a Christian venture capitalist who started his first business in college selling T-shirts and tie-dye boxer shorts. Listen in as he highlights the competitive advantage that faith-driven entrepreneurs have in the marketplace.
Al Lopus: Hi, I’m Al Lopus, and you’re listening to the Flourishing Culture Podcast, where we help you create a flourishing workplace. The problem employers are facing today is that more of our employees are quitting than ever before. Some people are calling this the great resignation. And now with millions of open jobs, how can churches, Christian non-profits, and Christian-owned businesses face this tidal wave of resignations while attracting new, outstanding talent? And we know that having a flourishing workplace with fully engaged employees is the solution. I’ll be your guide today as we talk with a thought leader about key steps that you can take to create a flourishing workplace culture.
So, now let’s meet today’s special guest.
As a Christian entrepreneur or business leader, how do you step into your purpose and pursue creativity? And in this episode, our conversation will include how the work you do today serves as an active part of God’s work and how you can learn values and habits that empower you to build your business and serve your community.
And I’m delighted to welcome Henry Kaestner. He’s the co-founder of Bandwidth, a communications platform, and a managing principal of Sovereign’s Capital. Henry wrote the book Faith-Driven Entrepreneur along with our friends J.D. Greear and Chip Ingram.
Henry, welcome to the Flourishing Culture Podcast.
Henry Kaestner: Al, thank you very much for having me.
Al: Well, I’m really looking forward to our conversation, but let’s start off with your own journey in faith and business. What are maybe one or two of the key turning points in your life that helped shape your journey?
Henry: Yeah. Al, I think it really starts off in college, when I discovered my first love. It wasn’t a “her.” It was the fact I could sell a T-shirt for ten dollars, having made it for five dollars. And I could do that math. I’ve never been great at math, but I could do that math, and had a lot of fun running a T-shirt business and a tie-dye boxer-short business in college. And that was a really seminal moment. It taught me my love of entrepreneurship and being my own boss. And by the time I got out of college, we had sales organizations at 50 different schools, and just a lot of fun.
But we had some copyright problems. And so my dad said, “Look, pal, you can plead naivete as I did when you’re twenty, but by the time you’re twenty-one, you need to get a real job.” And so the movie Wall Street had just come out, and there’s the Bud Fox character. And he had two phones. He had Daryl Hannah as his girlfriend. He had the apartment on the Upper West Side, with the sushi maker and the exposed brick wall. And I’m like, I want to be that guy. And that’s the first sign, Al, when things are going wrong in your life, when Charlie Sheen is your first role model.
And so I did pursue that dream. I went up to Wall Street, and I spent six years pursuing all the different things that you think that a young secular person—I grew up in a very liberal church, didn’t really lean into my faith, wasn’t really presented to me in a way that it was later—just pursued everything that you might expect, so money and dating and all those things. And I came to understand the emptiness behind it.
I did end up meeting a great girl, who became my wife. We moved to North Carolina, and we stumbled into a church one Sunday, where the guy behind the pulpit was preaching the gospel as if he believed it to be true and as if he believed the Bible to be true. And neither of us had a place where we could process that. How could somebody actually believe the Bible was true? But we couldn’t leave early, because we’d come in late, and so we stuck around.
And what had gone through my mind, Al, was that I had read maybe a thousand books on Earth, but I’d never cracked the cover of the bestselling book of all time. And I could get up to heaven, and Peter’s there, St. Peter’s there, for the entrance interview. And he’s like, look, I can’t let you in. And so I thought, well, I’d better read the Bible. But there are a lot of pages in it, as you know and as your audience knows. And so I looked to the end, which are the CliffsNotes to the Bible. And that’s how I got through prep school, reading the CliffsNotes to the classics. And I knew enough to know that it was Christian part. And it was in reading through the Bible that God reached me. I came to understand that it was true, and you can’t make that stuff up, and it changed everything.
So that was two of the big ones. And I’m overlooking the fact I got married to a wonderful woman, and of course, another one. But discovering my love of entrepreneurship, coming to faith, meeting Kimberly.
And I think that there’s another seminal moment in there, too, which is at age 38, after having had some success with Bandwidth—and Bandwidth is a telecommunications company. We make phone numbers and the software that provisions it. A couple years ago, we went public, and we work with companies like Google and Microsoft and Zoom and Uber and other people like that.
And what happened, Al, is that I was into Bandwidth for about, oh goodness, probably about seven years and were starting to do well. And I came across the plate of a guy named Daryl Heald, who had started a ministry called Generous Giving. And he asked me a simple question that set me reeling, and he asked me why I gave. And at that point in time, up to that point in time, Kimberly and I were probably giving away 20 percent. We were doing very, very well at Bandwidth, through God’s grace. And we knew that we needed to give. But when he asked me this question, why do I give? it kind of sent me reeling. And I think I mumbled through something theologically C-minus at the time. But I spent time in scripture over the next six months, and it seemed like every passage had something to do about money. And God really convicted me that up until then, I had really thought that I owned 80 percent, and He owned 20 percent. And as I came to understand, He owned it all. I called it my born-again again moment. And so those are the four big ones, that plus the birth of my kids, and you’ve got all my seminal moments.
Al: Yeah. Okay. Wow, that’s great. A great summary.
You know, I find it interesting, thinking about Sovereign’s Capital and how you invest in companies that promote human flourishing, both for your customers and employees, and the Best Christian Workplaces Institute is all about creating flourishing workplaces. So give us some examples of how that works, your work at Sovereign’s. And also, do you see that companies with these values also have great business results?
Henry: Yeah. Yeah.
Al: Just can’t wait to hear your thoughts on that.
Henry: Absolutely. So, to talk about Sovereign’s Capital, I should probably tell you about why we started it. So again, seven, eight, nine years into Bandwidth, seeing some success, we realized that lots of entrepreneurs were having a challenge in balancing their faith and the way that they talked to different funders. David and I, ourselves, had started Bandwidth with the foundational values of faith first, then family, then work, and then fitness. And we went out to Sand Hill Road a couple of years in it, trying to raise money. Went up and down it.
And we wouldn’t talk about our faith on the first visit. But second or third visit, we absolutely would. We’re going to be bringing onboard a partner. So we said, “Listen, we’re not going to have a holy huddle. We’re going to hire the best person for the job. And yet we’re going to do things like pray for our meetings, at board meetings, and you need to know that.” And as we talked about that, we got a lot of blank stares and really felt that in the best-case scenario, we were misunderstood, and in a worst-case scenario, we were prejudiced against.
It was a long, hard slog. Going 0 for 40 over the course of two years was difficult. It ended up being the very best thing that could have happened for us because the mistakes we made, we made it with very little money. It taught us the value of really looking at DSO and DPO as components of cash flow. And never forget those lessons.
But as we started talking to other entrepreneurs, we realized that a lot of them kind of, like, repress their faith. They’re like, “Yeah. I try to leave some breadcrumbs and talk about the fact that I teach Sunday school, but I just don’t want to really kind of be over the top about it, because I don’t think that that will serve my business well, and I don’t think it will serve my shareholders well.” And so we thought, of course, that that was a great shame, that there is, of course, a great opportunity to lead well, to love on your partners, vendors, customers, employees, all of them in a way that points to a God who loves them. And yes, we need to do it with gentleness and respect, and we need to do it with excellence. We need to run our businesses with excellence.
But there is this dynamic that folks were missing in. And we realized, at the time, that we were spending time with a lot of our advisors. And while there were some great workplace ministries—and I love them. C12, Convene, FCCI. There’re a bunch of them—we weren’t spending a lot of time there. We’re spending time with our advisors, and we knew that a lot of entrepreneurs were spending time with their investors, so I said, let’s roll a fund out. Let’s have a fund that looks to invest in the very best faith-driven entrepreneurs so that they can excel. And what can you use? Well, God has taught us at Bandwidth and things like intellectual property and CAC and LTV and capitalization, all those things. Let’s do that because God’s given us gifting and experience there. But also, let’s encourage these young men and women as they pursue God in the workplace. And what does it even look like? How can they compete and win? How can they excel? How can they do that in a way that bears witness and testimony? And so that’s what gave birth to Sovereign’s.
And then I can tell the story later on about some of the shortcomings to that model, which, just real quickly, is that we ended up saying, and it sounds to this day, say no to 99 out of 100 businesses that come to us for financing, because we want to have a fund that competes and wins. And through the grace of God, fund one has been a top-quintile fund. We’ve had three funds that’ve all done very, very well, through the grace of God.
But we do believe absolutely, to the last part of the question that you asked, is can you have excellent financial returns in faith-driven entrepreneurs? And the answer is absolutely, yes. Now, that being said, I have told people, and I believe this, that 80 percent, and this is not scientific by any stretch, but the majority of Christian businesses out there are not as good as their secular counterparts. And the reason for that is that when you’re running a business like Whole Foods or you run a business like Apple, you can be very clear about why you do what you do, with some degree of integrity and passion.
There’s a great TED.com video by Simon Sinek, talking about the why of a leader. All too often, Christian leaders, though, see business as just kind of a means to an end. And they think, wow, what I really need to be doing is I really need to be doing ministry because I’ve always been told that that’s the highest and best use of my talents. And so maybe, really, my function in business is to make money so I can support other ministries. Or I want to work until five o’clock, where I can volunteer with Young Life or fill in the blanks.
But there’s a dissonance that happens in the minds of lots of faith-driven entrepreneurs, which is, how do I balance my faith with wanting to be excellent at work? And that means that there’s some level of, well, I want to tell people about my faith, but I don’t really, and I’ve got to be really careful about it. And that kind of conflict ends up getting picked up by employees. And they don’t have that problem if they work for a Steve Jobs or a John Mackey or somebody like that.
So I believe that when a Christ follower does come to understand that they’ve been called to create and that as they are an entrepreneur or business owner, they are absolutely communing with a living God and the work that He’s doing in bringing about His kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven, and has the holy purpose, that’s a pure play on their being an image bearer. We worship a God who works six out of seven days and who has worked, according to the gospel of John, continues to this day. And so that’s really important. When you grasp that, coupled with the other real component part, which is identity in Christ, the fact that there’s a God of the universe who loves me so much, and even though I mess up so badly, He still loves me so much He sent His Son. And we, as parents, can really understand the sacrifice to save me, to reconcile me to Him, that I can now return to the altar, to think of my work as worship with gratitude and joy. And that gives the 20 percent faith-driven entrepreneurs that grasp those two things—they’re called to create, and their identity in Christ—when they can grasp them, it gives them a nuclear source of power that allows them to run circles around their secular counterparts. When you understand that the author of the universe loves you that much and that He is working in the world and He’s using you and can use you and partner with you in the redemption and restoration of all things, that’s amazing stuff. Nobody can touch that. And so that gives us an opportunity to just lead with joy and with purpose. It’s winsome. The part of our employees is created in the image of God resonates with that, and it becomes a beautiful thing, and allows faith-driven entrepreneurs to succeed and to do better than their secular counterparts. And as an investor, that does translate into bottom-line return.
Al: Yeah. I love that. Joy, purpose, and winsome. That’s a great outcome.
You know, Henry, you interact with Christian entrepreneurs and business leaders on a regular basis. What would you say are some of the primary challenges facing them today?
Henry: Oh, yeah. The first problem we had with Sovereign’s was that we’re saying no 99 out of 100 times. So we started a ministry called faith-driven entrepreneur, that provides content and community, so contents, blogs, and podcasts and a conference. And then we’ve got an eight-week study that we do, and we walk through these things called the marks of a faith-driven entrepreneur. And in them, we look at the different challenges that are maybe not unique to all entrepreneurs, but especially to faith-driven entrepreneurs. And I’ll tell you what I mean by them.
So, there are eleven marks, and you got two of them. Of course, the call to create, and identity in Christ. But the other ones that we unpack over this eight-week series are things like faithfulness versus willfulness. When David and I look back to the mistakes we made at Bandwidth, and we made many, we understand the seasons that we were in and the fact that many of them were just us being willful. And a couple of years ago, David and I took a trip with our boys, and we were driving from Tahoe to Yosemite, and David was reflecting on these different seasons, and we’re looking back on them. Like, for instance, we went 0 for 40 in ventures. Well, that’s actually, it was a season in which we were being willful.
Henry: We’d pray before we’d walk into a meeting that we’d walk out with a $20 million term sheet, but we never really were praying that we should be raising money to begin with. And then David, as we’re processing this, said, “Oh, my goodness. It’s just like scripture. Saul was supposed to wait on Samuel, but he just went off. He was willful. And yet Gideon was faithful. He waited on God.” And then you look at times, like, you can even be willful in passivity, you know? And David stayed behind when kings go off to war. So faithfulness versus willfulness is a big challenge that entrepreneurs have.
Excellence is another one. It’s the degree that we do our work well, that we have an opportunity to witness and be heard. It’s really, really important. I’m paraphrasing Francis Schaeffer there a little bit. How to do ministry in deed well. How to do ministry in word well. What does that look like? How do you share your faith winsomely with somebody in the workplace? How do you even process that?
The value of partnership, I think that partnership is very, very biblical. God sends us off in twos. I think that a lot of faith-driven entrepreneurs miss that. I think a lot of entrepreneurs miss that. I think that there’s some of these aspects that are universal, or people would call them common grace. But the value of partnership, I think, is super important. And there are several more.
Al: Wow. Yeah. Great stuff. As you say, identity in Christ, and faithfulness versus willfulness. That’s something we could talk about, probably for a long time. And those are great experiences that you’ve even described are great examples.
It’s really amazing to understand how being in God’s image can impact our own lives, and I love your point about our identity in Christ. But continuing these ideas, so what does entrepreneurship have to do with the gospel? You’ve kind of hit on a little bit of the ministry in deed and so on, but connect entrepreneurship with the gospel.
Henry: That’s a great question. Well, I’m going to come back down to the four-part gospel and just the concept that in addition to the fact that we are sinners justly deserving displeasure and that God sent His Son to die for us, we can be involved in the redemption and restoration of all things. So I think that’s really good news. I think the good news is the fact, when Jesus was asked, What is the good news? the definition that I see play out in the New Testament is the good news is the fact of the kingdom of God. I’m here to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, that’s great news. That’s great news. And so I think that we play a role in that. I think we play a role. And just like we pray every day, the Lord’s Prayer, our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. And so I think we play a role in that. So that’s good news. So entrepreneurship, again, is a pure play on creating, co-creating, being a junior partner under God’s power for His glory and the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God.
Al: A junior partner. There we go. We’re partners. Yeah.
Henry: He uses us. I don’t think He has to use us. You know, we worship a God Who took five loaves and two fish and fed 5,000. So He actually doesn’t need us. Now, somebody could look at that and say, “Well, He used some person’s five loaves and two fish.” But I don’t believe that God needs us for anything, and yet, He chooses to use us. And in doing that, we have an opportunity to commune with the living God, and that’s really awesome stuff.
Al: Yeah. You know, Henry, it reminds me. I was at the C12 conference earlier this year, and Mike Sharrow was sharing how there was a section of Florida where the C12 companies that were part of their organization actually had more baptisms than all the churches in the same area.
Henry: Hm. I believe it. So, I’m a huge fan of Mike’s leadership and C12 as a ministry and their impact in the regions in which they serve.
Al: But that’s exactly—you know, as you’re saying, we’re involved in redemption, and that’s an example. Yeah, wow.
You know, when I think of spiritual gifts, apostleship seems to have a parallel idea to entrepreneurship. Both are involved in starting new movements or starting new things. What do you think about the comparison of entrepreneurs and apostles, with a small A?
Henry: Yeah. When I think about—so I’m not a theologian. The last time I really knew what I was doing is I was selling T-shirts. Make them for five, sell them for ten. So, everything else, I just pretend.
Al: Yeah, but, you know— And tie-dye boxer shorts. That was the—
Henry: Yeah, that’s right. Well, so, back then, so, Al, you might be old enough to remember. In late 1980s, boxer shorts became a thing again. And it was actually 80 to 90 percent of them were bought by women, teenage girls as coverups for bathing suits, which for the younger people listening, it’s going to be like, that is just really, really weird.
Henry: And even, and I lived through that, and I’ll still admit it’s really, really weird. But we made tie-dye boxer shorts, and we sold them in Urban Outfitters and Ron Jon Surf Shop and one hundred and fifty stores up and down the East Coast and in California. And it was a thing. But, yeah, so we had done that.
So apostleship, so my point is that I’m not a theologian. Based on experience and really feeling God at work in different times, I see pattern recognition. I’m an investor. I see pattern recognition; you go with it. And you see it backed up by scripture and you think you got something.
So I can’t tell you that I can make a great illustration of entrepreneurship and apostleship, but I can tell you that from what I understand about apostles is that they are anointed by God as leaders. And I think that every entrepreneur’s anointed by God. I think that the priesthood of believers are anointed by God. And I do think that an entrepreneur, a business owner, who is responsible for a company’s mission and vision, who’s responsible for resourcing that company, who’s responsible for getting the right people on the bus is absolutely a leader. And I think that as we submit ourselves to God and endeavor to work for His glory, I do think that there is an apostleship, a small A, apostleship to that, and that’s a great and wonderful thing to be approached with fear and trembling. And yet it’s also we have to acknowledge the fact that can be a really lonely thing, too.
Henry: Just like, you know, you read the letters of Paul and you can see that just the challenges he had to go through. Difficult leadership, it comes with it some level of stress, that to include our Lord and Savior’s sweat and blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. So it can be hard. It can be lonely. It’s one of the things why we started the ministry faith-driven entrepreneurs, to be able to bring together a broader tribe of people that are going through the same types of experiences and to encourage and equip and empower them. We definitely don’t ordain them, so there’s limits to the apostleship, but we want to encourage and equip these leaders that are a little bit different than the rest of folks in the marketplace.
Al: Yeah. No question.
Al: I trust you’re enjoying our podcast today. We’ll be right back after an important word for leaders.
Female: As we come through the COVID-19 crisis, leaders everywhere are asking, how do we understand the tensions our employees are experiencing coming back to work? How do we keep our employees engaged, hold on to our best talent, and position ourselves to thrive as an organization going forward? If you’re looking for a way forward, the Best Christian Workplaces Institute can guide you onto the road to a flourishing workplace.
The first step to begin the journey is our well-known Employee Engagement Survey. This proven online tool pinpoints where your organization is already strong and where you can improve your employees’ workplace experience, resulting in more productive people. That’s right. You’ll have more engaged, productive, and fulfilled people. Time-consuming guesswork won’t get you there. Instead, let us help you with a fact-based, hope-inspiring action plan that only our Employee Engagement Survey and skillful coaching can provide. Sign up now to begin the journey to build a flourishing workplace culture and a thriving organization. Find out more at bcwinstitute.org.
Al: And now, back to today’s special guest.
People are called to use their gifts as entrepreneurs, and they have many responsibilities and demands on their time. But Henry, let’s talk about how entrepreneurs can continue to develop themselves as leaders and also as people. I loved, you said at Sovereign’s, faith, family, fitness. I mean, those were some of your values, but entrepreneurs need to continue to develop themselves as leaders and people. So how can they keep from being depleted? How can they keep themselves in a position where they actually have something to give to others emotionally and as a leader?
Henry: We’ve got a local group that get together here in the Bay Area, called Inklings, and that’s a group of mostly faith-driven entrepreneurs, who get together to encourage each other in the pursuit of faith, family, and vocation, kind of like the original Inklings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. And we have a speaker each time. We’ve been doing it now for six years. And a speaker one time was Josh Kwan. He’s a good friend of mine. You and I talked before we went live, talked about HOPE International. Josh and I first met on the board of HOPE International. And Josh was our speaker, and Josh was asked at the end, I asked him, I said, “What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were thirty-five?” Josh is probably about fifty now. And he said, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s the value of compounded interest.” You know, Albert Einstein said the most valuable force in the world, most impressive force in the world, is the value of compounded interest. He said, “If I could have been as deliberate about the spiritual disciplines at thirty-five as I am now, I just think about what kind of returns they would have delivered.” And so it sounds pithy and cliché to say, “So, how do you do all these things?” well, it’s time in God’s Word, it’s time in prayer, it’s time in fasting. It’s the accountability of believers being able to confess sins to each other is incredibly powerful. We know that we’re supposed to continue to meet together because in Hebrews, talks about some of these people have even stopped to meet together. So fellowship is important. I think those are all important.
I think that there are other things that are important, too. One of the marks that I didn’t mention before of the faith-driven entrepreneurs, that God owns it all. And when we can come to understand that actually God owns it all, it actually frees us up from a burden and, I think, puts things in the right place. It doesn’t get us off the hook in terms of our real responsibility to use all the things that we have for God. And yet it’s God’s. And God cares about our business more than we do. But we also need to tap into God.
So, I think that the number one mistake that we make, which is a different way of answering your question about how do we continue to get nourished, is by looking at the things that happen when we don’t seek out God. So when we seek out God and we pray, especially as we contemplate making big decisions, we avoid the mistakes of the good kings of Judah. So for people who have gone through and read the Bible all the way through, you’re going to know that First Chronicles is all about all of these genealogies. It can be pretty boring. The Second Chronicles, though, is about the good kings and the bad kings of Judah. And if you like A&E Biography, this is great, and it goes through and talks about a whole bunch of kings. There were seven good kings. Every single one of them, however, made a key mistake, and it was that they didn’t seek God out for important decisions they were making. For most of them, it was whether they were to go to war or not. But for one of them, it was a trade deal. And just, you know, go back to just thinking about we make decisions based on where our common sense, and presumably people listening to this program are good Christian men and women, and they want to honor God, and they make decisions every day based on common sense. Well, that’s what the good kings of Judah did. But they didn’t get down on their knees, they weren’t deliberate about it, and things didn’t go well for them. And so how do we counteract some of the challenges that we might otherwise have as entrepreneurs? It’s just to understand that God owns it all, and we need to seek Him out, and we need to avoid making those mistakes.
Al: Yeah. Right. That’s great.
Oftentimes, you know, entrepreneurs are really good at doing things on their own. But what ideas do you have to help an entrepreneur build a capable team as they grow and as they move forward?
Al: Well, number one—gosh, and again, we’re on a Christian podcast. Here I go again—to pray about it.
Al: Yeah. Right.
Henry: And showing God’s infinite sense of humor, before David and I got together as partners at Bandwidth twenty-three years ago, he got under his desk and prayed for two and a half hours that God would send him a partner, which I think is really, really, really funny, because if you know David and you know me, you know that David’s absolutely amazing, and I can sell T-shirts really well. But I’m not, I mean, to think about some of the technology that we contemplate at Bandwidth. And so anyway, God did answer his prayer, and all he got was me.
But when you’re talking about building a team, and you may have heard me mention it before, I really think that a leader has really got three primary responsibilities. And a friend of mine, Kurt Keilhacker, has helped me to see this. Number one, steward the mission and vision. Two, resource the company. Oftentimes, most of the time, that means fundraising. Number three, get the right people on the bus.
How do you get the right people on the bus? Number one is identify the fact that that’s your job. It’s, like, one of your major three things to do. No, it’s not to be answering emails from all your customers at midnight. At some point in time, you need to hire the right person to do that.
Henry: Getting the right people on the bus has to be one of your jobs. It has to be a key area of focus. Too oftentimes, it’s an afterthought. Too oftentimes, it becomes something like, “I just need to get a rear end in that seat.” Number two, we’ve established you’ve got to pray about it. And you’ve got to pray, “Heavenly Father, please send me the right new chief operating officer, CFO.” I’ve had challenges in my past in getting the right marketing people, so I must not have prayed enough about it. But praying is incredibly important.
Number three is you need to spend time in the recruiting process to really be able to roll out and help the applicant understand the mission that the company is on, where you’re going, where you’re headed, what mountain you’re going to take, and what it’s going to look like, feel like, tastes like when you’ve hit that goal. And then, the role that they play in that process. And then, get their input. Say, “Listen. I want to take that mountain, and you’re responsible for,” I don’t know, “you’re responsible for supply chain or logistics. What role, how do you see us doing that?” And what you’re looking for in response is some level of confidence and somebody who has done it before and thought through this, and some level of humility, which is, it may not—we go ahead and we go around this corner and this bend, and we see these kind of rocks have kind of, you know, covered over the path. Then, we’re going to look at this, and then, here’s how I handle different types of challenges. So that’s a little bit pragmatic and practical.
A fourth one, if we’re going to go pragmatic and practical, though, for a second, before I close it out, is I love interviewing spouses. We learn a lot of good lessons at Bandwidth about that, about seeing how a husband and wife interact, because you want to work with great people. We spend a lot of time with these people, and understanding how they love and serve their partner is really important. And generally, over the course of couple of years of courting, great people find great people. And so when you meet a spouse and you’re like, that’s an awesome person, pretty good chance that the person you’re interviewing is also a really great person.
Al: Yeah. Great verification. I love that. That’s great advice. Interview spouses.
And you also see how the candidate interacts with others if you go out to dinner or something like that, which can also be helpful. Yeah.
Al: Wow. Well, those are great ideas. Thanks.
Henry: Thanks for asking.
Al: Entrepreneurs are not successful alone, that’s for sure.
Finally, you know, there’s a chapter on excellence in your book. You referred to excellence earlier, and here at Best Christian Workplaces Institute, we think Christian organizations should be the best, most effective places to work in the world. And that also kind of really focuses on excellence, which is one of our key values. So, you know, Mike Sharrow, we mentioned earlier, he uses the term sometimes, sloppy agape. So why do you think Christian organizations sometimes struggle with excellence? What’s the fundamental underlying problem there?
Henry: I think, again, it’s a function of dissonance. They’re not really sure. They don’t really lean into the fact that God can use them to bring about His kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. So they don’t think high enough about themselves or the business. That’s, I think, the root cause of—I love that sloppy agape. And then, since they can’t reconcile it all, they end up trying to balance it under their own power and try to, just, like, I know faith’s important. I also got to feed my family. I’ve got this idea. And they just can’t bring it all together in a way that gives them a sense of conviction that God is using them. And it’s really, I mean, gosh, we’re on a mission. I mean, everybody wants to follow a great leader for an all-important mission. Well, you can follow the God of the universe on a mission of bringing about His kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. Big time stuff. But most entrepreneurs, most faith-driven entrepreneurs and business owners don’t really grasp that. And so that leaves them with something that’s just kind of an imperfect theology, and it just kind of works its way out into kind of like a sloppiness.
At least a secular person that is consumed by just, you know, revolutionizing the wholesale food chain, as was the case with John Mackey at Whole Foods; or bringing form and function and beauty into technology, Steve Jobs; at least they’ve got something. They’ve got a unity of purpose. They know what they’re doing. It’s a false god, but they got something. Everybody knows where they’re going. It consumes that person, and they’re in and they’re dedicated to the focus of it. But a lot of entrepreneurs are like, I can’t. I know my life isn’t just about revolutionizing wholesale food chains; it’s about something else. And they just they miss it. They miss it.
And it’s just like, you know, little kids. I mean, people can just pick up on whether somebody’s really got it and where they’re really worthy of following, and customers do, too. And it just kind of breeds on itself. And then some other faith-driven entrepreneurs will look at that, and they’ll see the sloppy plumber that puts the fish on their business van and says, “Well, it’s sloppy agape.”
So my answer, instead of really trying to find out what’s the true meaning and identity and purpose of being a faith-driven entrepreneur and how God might use me is to go ahead and just go the other way. I’m going to absolutely not put a fish anywhere—
Henry: —because I’m going to go to church on Sunday. I’m going to worship God on Wednesday. And yes, if I see somebody dying on the side of the road, I will probably stop. I remember the Bible lesson, parable of the Good Samaritan. And yet I’m just not going to be able to talk about my faith, because people are just going to miss understand me; I see, when it’s used, people run 100 miles an hour the other way; and so I’m just going to distance myself from it. And I think that that’s the enemy winning.
Al: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Well, Henry, this has really been a great conversation, and I really enjoyed all that we’ve learned today. You know, your discussion, just really starting off with how you got involved with Sovereign’s, the background there. Your two keys for Christ followers is that there is really purpose in work and that we have to understand our identity in Christ; where work is worship; where we experience joy, purpose; and we become winsome as a result of that. I think that is really a nice magnetic outcome for the gospel. Also, I just love your focus on spiritual disciplines, how you compare that with the value of compounded interest. Now, I’ve never heard of those two actually connected, but boy, I understand exactly what you’re saying, is over time, practicing spiritual discipline is being built up and refreshed with spiritual disciplines. Prayer, fasting, fellowship, and worship over time is like compounded interest. It just builds on itself. It’s a miracle on that regard.
Al: And you know, and the importance of as you build a team, your point of prayer, just consistently. I mean, too many times we’re willful, as you say. We just go off and do things without really being in prayer, and how that’s a key part of what we need to do in addition to stewarding the mission and vision and being resourceful and bringing the resources and finding the right people. So these are just great focuses. And finally, your comments on excellence just hit the mark. And I love it when you say, when these things happen, you can experience tremendous investment returns at the same time. So that’s great.
Let me ask you, Henry, is there anything else you’d like to add based on what we’ve talked about so far?
Henry: Yeah, thanks for asking. I hope that your listeners are really, really encouraged by God at work in the marketplace. Over the last month, I’ve been to Eastern Europe, and then I just got back this weekend from Africa, and seeing communities of faith-driven entrepreneurs and faith-driven investors. We also have a ministry called faith-driven investor, and two faith-driven investor conferences: one in Nairobi, one in Cape Town. And Aslan, as my friend David Wells likes to say, Aslan is on the move. God’s at work, Body of Christ is coming together, they are leaning into their call to create, and I’m incredibly encouraged. I mean, this is, not to time guard it too much, but you know, we’re coming out of COVID, and we’ve had all sorts of challenges with racial justice in the country and around the world. And yet I’m really, really hopeful because I see men and women driven by their Christian faith, understanding that God is using them, and that they can do great things through Him. And it is really encouraging to see.
Al: Henry Kaestner, author of Faith-Driven Entrepreneur, thanks so much for your contributions today. And most of all, I appreciate your devotion and service to our loving God and to helping others live out their calling. So, thanks for taking time out of your day and speaking into the lives of our many listeners. Thanks, Henry.
Henry: Al, thank you. Thank you for you and your ministry.
Al: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
Outro: Thank you for joining us on the Flourishing Culture Podcast and for investing this time in your workplace culture. If there’s a specific insight, story, or action step you’ve enjoyed, please share it with others so they can benefit, too. Please share this podcast with friends on social media, and show your support by rating, reviewing, and subscribing wherever you listen.
This program is copyrighted by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute. All rights reserved. Our social-media and marketing manager is Solape Osoba.
Remember, a healthy workplace culture drives greater impact and growth for your organization. We’ll see you again soon on the Flourishing Culture Podcast.