Disappointments are a constant staple in an entrepreneur's life. You eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served with a side of failure and dipped in the sauce of stress. We're expected to take this all in and produce as outputs energy, optimism, and determination.
Entrepreneurship is not easy. The other day I went to a talk by a fellow entrepreneur about his sexy salad startup, and he pointed out that some are enamored by the halo effect of entrepreneur - that it's the cool new thing to do - but they forget that entrepreneurship is about the blood, sweat, toil, and tears of a daily struggle against bankruptcy in finances - or sometimes worse, bankruptcy in hope. There's indeed much hype and fanfare in the media about startups and the pursuit of dreams. We all want to be cool, praised, and validated - which is a psychological need when we're insecure. Worse yet, we legitimize this relentless - and very costly - pursuit of self-validation with the promise that one day we'll be like Facebook, Uber or Tesla.
And that is a lie - the same lie that Satan used for thousands of years to lure people into believing the gospel of self-sufficiency and success - the idea that we can be quite something outside of Christ. It lures us away from relying on the grace of Jesus.
The book "Counterfeit Gods" by Tim Keller and a series of recent setbacks prompted me to probe into the unknown depths of my heart in search for the true reason for doing what I'm doing. Lo and behold, I caught myself partially if not fully subscribing to that lie. "The most painful times in our lives are times in which our Isaacs, our idols, are being threatened or removed," writes Tim Keller, "you don't realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have." (My son's name also happens to be Isaac). We have idolized success by hinging our identities and lives on entrepreneurship and not on Christ.
I'm not saying that entrepreneurship or money or success is bad nor am I condemning those working hard in their careers. These things are only "bad" when they draw you away from God or straight out replace your desire for God. Jesus said, ""No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." The why in entrepreneurship is more important than the how. But then again, who'd buy a book about the why when they already subscribe to the lie and want to skip to the how?
I'm not disillusioned or jaded because of a recent setback. I'm only using it to examine my heart. Starting a company and leading it to profitability is tremendously difficult. It'll cost you relationships, time with people important to you, and your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. As Jaeson Ma raps, "don't do it for success. Do it for passion." Passion for excellence that glorifies God. Passion to sow seeds of the Gospel of Jesus. Passion for the Kingdom of God.