On the Entrepreneurial Spirit

I’m reading a fascinating book called My Korean Deli. It’s the story of a convenience store in Brooklyn (and it is quite the story). Anyone who has lived in the city has seen, and been in, one of these ubiquitous establishments at some point (if not every day).

It’s a fascinating read for a number of reasons: race and immigrant issues, inter-racial marriage dynamics, neighborhoods in transition…it’s got a little bit of everything.

In ministry, especially start-up campus ministry and church planting you have to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit at some level or else you are in trouble. Ben Howe, the author, perfectly captures the difficulty of the entrepreneur:

“The thing about business is that, like anything else, it takes a while to figure out how you’re really doing. You’re like a pilot whose dashboard instruments don’t function until the plane has reached cruising altitude–you don’t know how fast you’re going, how high you are, or how close you are to stalling and dropping out of the sky. There just isn’t enough information, and what there is you don’t know how to interpret…beginner’s errors distort the picture…ballpark guesses often turn out to be rosy-picture guesses.”

And then this:

“No matter how mixed the evidence, to a fledgling entrepreneur the future always looks shiny and bright, doesn’t it? You’re in business, you have a store, and it has customers, which might seem like modest accomplishments, but it’s the beginning and it’s hard not to succumb to the delusion that things can only get better.”

That is good stuff, especially in ministry when defining the “bottom line” can get tricky. Doing something, does not always equate with quality. A good reminder, for me, that clarity in big goals brings clarity in smaller things.

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