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What can George Bailey, Jerry Maguire, and Gordon Gekko teach us about entrepreneurship and evangelism?

This question came to mind as I was reading Brad Reagan’s recent essay, “What do George Bailey, Jerry Maguire, and Gordon Gekko Have in Common?”

The answer was that each of these fictional characters tells us something about how America has viewed entrepreneurship.

Reagan begins,

Want to know what America thinks of entrepreneurship? Just ask Hollywood.

What follows is an entertaining history of entrepreneurship as seen through the eyes of movie and television writers, including everyone from Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners to the creators of the current reality show Shark Tank.

The essay got me thinking about entrepreneurship, and left me with two questions:

  • First, is Hollywood telling us how America has viewed entrepreneurship, or are we seeing how Hollywood has tried to shape America’s vision of it? (This question will, for now, go unanswered).
  • The second question is this: Does God want all Christians to be entrepreneurs?

The answer to this second question is yes and no. Let me explain.

Should All Christians Be Entrepreneurs?

We’ve written a lot about entrepreneurship, particularly on our blog. Brian Baugus writes in his excellent series,

Entrepreneurship is a creative act made possible by the creative impulse that God gave us. In addition, it requires certain personal traits that God desires us to have.

He goes on to describe these traits, things like creativity, faith, perseverance, sacrifice, and service – all integral characteristics to which all Christians should aspire. We can safely assume that all Christians should creatively and entrepreneurially use the gifts God has given them in order to help those around them flourish.

So yes, in the most general sense, all Christians are called to be entrepreneurs (little “e”). Yet that does not mean all of us are called vocationally to be Entrepreneurs (big “E”).

Entrepreneurship & Evangelism

In many ways, this is similar to the way Christians look at the idea of evangelism. We know that Christ said in the Great Commission, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).

Peter reminds us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). The Bible makes it clear we are all supposed to be evangelists (little “e”).

At the same time, Paul tells the Ephesians,

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Ephesians 4:11-12).

This call to be an Evangelist (big “E”) is of a higher order than the mandate that we all have been given to share the gospel.

I have a friend, David Brett, who was an example of this call to be a “big ‘E’” Evangelist.

Entrepreneurs, Evangelists, & Evil People

I met David in South Florida in the mid-1970’s and quickly saw how God had equipped him with the gift of Evangelism. David could engage in a conversation with a complete stranger and in a few minutes be sharing the gospel.

I remember a time when, driving down US1, we passed a strip club called “The Evil People.” David said, “I can’t believe someone would call their pub ‘The Evil People.’” We explained to David that it was more than a pub and was truly deserving of the name. David hit the brakes and turned the car around saying, “I want to talk to the owner.”

David asked a woman who was cleaning up in the lobby if he could talk to the owner. A few moments later, a man in his mid-thirties appeared. David entered into a polite conversation with him and within a few minutes was sharing the gospel. The owner looked like he would rather be anywhere else and quickly found an excuse to end the conversation.

Twenty years later, David was staying with me in Orlando and asked if I remembered the story of his conversation with the owner of The Evil People. He then told me that the day before, he had been in South Florida and driven by what used to be the The Evil People and is now Jack’s Family Restaurant. David went in and asked the hostess where he could find the old owner of the Evil People. She said, “He’s in the back, I will go get him for you.”

The man came out, took one look at David, and said, “I never thought that I would ever see you again.”

He told David he had been raised in a strong Christian home and had walked away from the faith. After David’s visit, he had fallen under great conviction and did not eat or sleep for three days. Finally he fell to his knees and gave his life to Christ.

Although this seems like an unusual story to many of us, it wasn’t for David Brett. He could tell you hundreds of stories where God has used him as a “big ‘E’” Evangelist to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This Christmas season, we all have the opportunity to be both entrepreneurs and evangelists by finding creative ways to share the gospel with our friends and family. My wife and I send Christmas cards that clearly have a gospel message, because during this one time of the year, so many seem more open to hearing:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7).

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Hugh Whelchel

About Hugh Whelchel

Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and author of "How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work." Hugh has a Master of Arts in Religion and brings over 30 years of diverse business experience to his leadership at IFWE. Read More...

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