A pastor in eastern China shares his attitude toward money in today's materialistic world and how much his mindset has changed since going into business.
Pastor Li Xun (pseudonym), a former full-time pastor who started a business while pastoring at the same time, tells his own story.
Pastor Li worked full-time in the church before starting his own business. About 15 years ago, a teacher gave a talk in his church about workplace evangelism. Pastor Li had no idea what workplace evangelism was at the time because the church focused on church planting, serving, and the congregation offered money. There was no need for workplace evangelism. More than ten years later, he finally understands what the workplace is and what workplace evangelism means.
During his full-time ministry, his path of service was filled with difficulties due to the influence of the theology of suffering. The hardest part was the economy. Other difficulties could be solved by some means, but money was only about owning it or not. When he does not have enough money to buy food, he goes hungry and is unable to do anything else.
Pastor Li says that there were many shocks and even temptations when doing business. One Christian he knew also started a business but went out of business gradually. The reason for the failure was that he sold shoddy goods to customers. The purchase price of fine products was a few hundred yuan a pound, but the purchase price of shoddy goods was only dozens of yuan a pound, which means that the price difference was hundreds of yuan. What was more, he sold the goods to Christians at a higher price, while what he sold to non-believers was cheaper because he was well-versed in the psychology of Christians. Christians generally do not bargain with Christians. Some Christians even insisted on giving him more money. Many non-Christians would bargain patiently in order to save a few dollars.
Mr. Li believes that the most important aspect of the business is not profit but product quality. A product, as long as it works well, would make one earn money even though there is less profit for each piece of goods. "Profit is not my primary goal. We need to know what we're doing all this for, and our goal is the mission. The mission is not just inside the church; it is outside the church."
Pastor Li says he's been in business for years, and many of his friends used to worry about his business. Several of his older friends said to him, "You’re quite talented and have a gift for eloquence. Don't let business dominate your life and influence your faith." However, Pastor Li claims that he will attend the church as soon as he closes the store during working days. For years, the business has never stopped him from attending any gathering. "I always tell them that I know who I'm doing it for."
Pastor Li has met his own and his family's financial needs by running a business, and he now has extra resources to help other pastors in need.
"Make sure you have money in your pocket so you don't panic. Otherwise, a church, no matter how holy it is, will find it difficult to do much without funds. We have to admit that money can make a big difference in many cases. Money makes it easier to finish much work. Without money, many things that are easy to handle will become difficult."
Pastor Li thinks the core problem is not about whether it’s spiritual at all, but who you're doing it for. "If everything we do is for God, then even things that are not spiritual can become spiritual. The point is that we must do it for God, not for ourselves."
- Translated by Nicolas Cao