Does God Help Entrepreneurs?

Someday I want to write an entire book on this subject.

It fascinates me to look back in history, to read the biographies and autobiographies of inventors and entrepreneurs, looking for acknowledgment of divine influence in their work.

Over the years I have read and heard many stories from innovators who believe that God gave them an idea, or helped them through a problem, or guided their efforts to find solutions.

Some entrepreneurs are actively religious, attending churches, synagogues, or mosques; others are “spiritual”, connecting with Divinity in their own way, through prayer, nature, or meditation, or in other ways.

I intend to start asking many of my entrepreneurial friends, with all kinds of religious views, if they believe God has helped them, and if so, why and how? If I get enough good material, I’ll publish it sooner or later.

Here are some of the seeds for this idea:

  • I met the inventor of “electronic greeting cards” in 2000 at a Jupiter conference in Napa, California. We had a great discussion about this topic. She knew that her invention was a gift to her from God. We talked about collaborating on a book someday about prayer in business.
  • I know two CEO in Utah, two of the best in the state, who won’t work on Saturday (for family reasons) or on Sunday (for religious reasons). (Sunday is the Sabbath Day for many Christians.)
  • Gucharan Das, author of India Unbound, one of the five best books I have read in the past few years describes how India’s traditional spirituality is being combined with the “rationality and technology of the West” with marvelous results. He talks of temples and meditation and knowledge of God. He describes in one section how two south Indian temple priests have started a software company, showing that traditional spiritual values and modern technology can co-exist.
  • I have a Jewish friend — a brilliant entrepreneur — who has devoted some of his wealth to publishing sacred Jewish texts online in an effort to promote something he considers to be extremely important.
  • Years ago my father told me about a Chicago man who literally dreamed the solution to a postal sorting machine–he woke up one day with all the blueprints in his mind as he had seen how the device would work while he slept. He told my father that he got the patent for the machine, but that God was the inventor of it.
  • A religous leader who was formerly a highly respected heart surgeon describes how he saw in vision, as it were, a new way to do a surgical procedure, which is now standard practice. (I would have linked to the talk on LDS.org but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Here is the talk, The Sweet Power of Prayer, published on another site.)
  • A friend in Hong Kong recently prayed for divine help about how to approach a business meeting and as he got up he his computer alerted him to a new email, which contained exactly the information he needed. The email wasn’t send by God 🙂 but it was sent by a friend who had been working on the email message for much of the day.

How does this apply to you? Have you ever sought for God’s help in your business? If so, with what motive? Do you pray often, do you meditate, do you read scriptures in order to bring your heart and mind into harmony with Divinity?

Mark Victor Hansen, whose Chicken Soup for the Soul series has sold nearly 100 million copies, and Robert Allen, the most successful real estate author in history, teamed up a few years back to publish the book “One Minute Millionaire.”

The authors discuss the importance of tithing–giving 10% of your income to charities and/or churches. Their list of successful people who tithe includes John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Opray Winfrey, and Sir John Marks Templeton. Templeton said, “Tithing always gives the greatest return on your investment.” The authors claim that behind the most successful people is an attitude of giving and sharing. A willingness to help others (which can definitely grow within you as you pursue spirituality in business) unlocks the help of the Universe in your life.

I don’t believe, as some authors (including Paul Zane Pilzer, whom I have met, and whom I highly respect as a very religious economist) have claimed, that “God Wants You to Be Rich”, unless they are referring to the “riches of eternity,” which God wants to give to everyone. I think we often learn more importantly lessons in life from adversity and poverty than we do in prosperity.

I’ve said before that blogging is just about the most important business activity that I do everyday because it puts me in regular contact with both friends and strangers and the dialogue and relationships that result from blogging make me smarter and better connected.

But I honestly believe that the single most important business activity that I do every day is to have a personal spiritual devotional, where I seek to be in harmony with God through reading His Word, praying and pondering.

This does not guarantee that I won’t make mistakes, that I’ll be blessed somehow without hard work and effort, that I’ll beat my competition (who may also be seeking help from God). That’s not my point. My point is that a daily devotional brings peace of mind (something we really need in our fast-paced world), occasional moments of enlightenment (the Eureka moments sought by inventors), and helps me to love people and view them as human beings in the Tim Sanders’ Love-is-the-Killer-App way.

I think a dose of humility and gratitude, both of which can come studying holy books and praying to the Creator, would help any entrepreneur be more successful in life, if not in business.

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9 Comments

  1. I’m a musician. I founded Knobtweakers.net, an Mp3 Blog specialized in electronic music. I know thousands of musicians all over the world, and I’ve had similar discussions with most of them.

    It’s not the least bit uncommon to hear musicians say that they don’t exactly feel right saying that they wrote their best songs — many of them believe that the song was “out there” and that they channeled it, so that it would be shared with the world.

    That’s certainly how I feel about much of my creative effort. I rarely feel like I can really claim any of my best work — the inspired work.

    Perhaps a lot of it comes from our influences, our experience, little hints in the world around us, but sometimes it certainly feels like divine intervention.

  2. I think God has definitely helped provide inspiration and also guidance in times when things just don’t make sense. Most of all as you highlighted, values that are traditionally not associated with the business world have definitely been learnt through trying to build and maintain a closer relationship with him.

  3. As a manager of people for 34 years, I was always looking for ways to improve and ways to love my people as directed by God. I am convinced that I received two revelations which allowed me to make giant strides in my methods. The first allowed me to help my people double their output and the second allowed me to help them to double again. About 1 1/2 years after taking over a 1300 person group, a union steward entered my office saying that he did not know what I do, did not want to know, only wanted me to continue to do whatever I was doing because for 15 years he had hated to come to work and now he loved coming to work. He shook my hand and left.

    Praying for guidance and trying your best to live by the word of God is for me the secret to success in all things.

  4. M. Russell Ballard wrote a book (Our Search for Happiness: An Invitation to Understand the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) where he describes what he calls spiritual promptings not to enter a certain business endeavour (became a Ford Edsel retailer, if I remember correctly). He then describes how he shrugged off his initial “feeling” and eventually failed in his business. So, yes, I think God *tries* to help entrepreneurs, but it’s them (not Him) who make the final decision.

  5. Ric Cantrell

    Paul,

    You will also find that political leaders often give sincere credit to the Almighty as well. Accounts of inspiration and credit for some kind of ‘call’ to a significant mission in life are everywhere; and it’s not just elected leaders within an established system, but also rebels and revolutionaries fighting to protect land and people they love. (For one of many examples, see “Juan N. Cortina and the Struggle for Justice in Texas,” by Carlos Larralde and Jose Rodelfo Jacobo.)

    Grist for the mill . . .

  6. Ric Cantrell

    Paul,

    You will also find that political leaders often give sincere credit to the Almighty as well. Accounts of inspiration and credit for some kind of ‘call’ to a significant mission in life are everywhere; and it’s not just your elected leaders within the established system, but also rebels and revolutionaries fighting to protect land and people they love. (For one of many examples, see Juan N. Cortina and the Struggle for Justice in Texas, by Carlos Larralde and Jose Rodelfo Jacobo.)

    Grist for the mill . . .

  7. Neal Harmon

    Paul, a few years ago, I began to feel that everything that is good in this world is INSPIRATION or IMITATION. We either receive inspiration from another source not of our own or we imitate those who have. I believe that more everyday. I’d be happy to share a few of the many ways in which God has helped and inspired me in my work when you need content for your book. I’ve been keeping a list of the significant turning points for FamilyLearn as a result of inspiration that I can’t claim. I look forward to your findings and your book.

  8. Marshall Burtcher

    I’ve seen much in the way of inspiration in my life. God has certainly been involved, though not as I would hope or expect in some aspects. None the less, if you fit into the perspective of God’s will, He will put upon you a touch of Glory whereby you can accomplish a needed task.

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