"This is the hardest time of the year for my business," Pam said. Her busy season was just cranking up, but money from sales was not yet flowing. I could hear the tears behind her eyes over the phone. "My financial cushion is dwindling. I'm not going to make payroll next week. I know I need to turn it over to God, but it's hard, and I'm tired. It feels like the same place I've been in before. I'm not trying to make a lot of money; I just want to pay my people!"
As a business consultant and coach, I work with a number of company owners and leaders with similar struggles. Many of them see their business as a calling from God. They understand their work as a ministry—to their clients, customers, employees, vendors and others. However, day-to-day realities pull at them from every side, making it difficult to persevere and easy to question where God is and what He is up to.
One of the primary, and most unique, tools that I utilize with business leaders is Strategic Business Prayer. My clients will tell you that it is a powerful tool, incredibly effective for helping leaders get out of their own way and stay on track. However, my biggest struggle is helping people understand what it is. Prayer as a business tool? How does that work? With her permission, I'd like to share excerpts from a recent session with one of my clients. Pam asked that I use her real name.
The first thing to understand about Strategic Business Prayer is that it is interactive. In a coaching session, we don't just talk at God and ask him to bless our plans. We invite Him into a conversation. We ask Him questions, and listen for His responses. My role is to facilitate the conversation. I help my clients connect with God in a way that allows them to listen with their spiritual ears. I ask very specific questions. I also check for validity using a variety of means, including discerning whether what the client hears is aligned with scripture, among other things. I also take copious notes, capturing as accurately as possible the conversation between the client and God, as they report what they hear from Him. It is an intense process of concentration, so clients appreciate being able to read the notes after the session.
For example, after an opening prayer, the session with Pam started out like this:
Me: "Lord, what do you want Pam to know about making payroll next week?"
Pam: "He said that if I could see what he sees, there would be no need to worry or be unsure. I'm still so afraid though. But He wants me to know that I'm stronger than before…"
The conversation continued, back and forth for a while as God reminded Pam how much she has learned and grown in her faith and her business. Then Pam had this important exchange with God.
Pam: "God, I don't want the pain. I don't want to have to tell a staff member why they aren't getting paid."
God: "You won't have to tell them that. I Am God. There are an infinite number of ways to solve your problem. Infinite, Pam. Infinite. But I don't see it as a problem, Pam, only you do. You can only see a few ways. That's why I'm in charge of how it happens, not you.
"Don't be so hard on yourself, Pam. You are doing well and this will all work out. Keep track, write down every day next week what happens with the finances."
Me: "How does that feel?"
Pam: "Familiar. I've been here before. In the same time that I'm panicky, I also have more tools…I may go around the same mountain, but now I'm different and better equipped. Last time, I worried about how I would get me through. This time, I'm wondering how He will get me through it…I'm excited!
We wrapped up that session with Pam excitedly looking forward to how God would come through for her and her staff in the coming week.
Now, it's great to feel better, but if nothing happens in the bank account and the staff doesn't get paid, it's not worth anything to the business. So, what happened?
That session took place on a Friday. The following Thursday, I received this text message from Pam:
"Hi Dawn. True to His promise, God provided all the money I needed to pay payroll and my business expenses!! Actually, 90% of the money was provided by Tuesday!"
God can be trusted. For those of us who are in business as ministry, it is critically important that we follow His lead. My calling is to help you follow your calling at work. If you would like to learn more or experience Strategic Business Prayer for yourself, contact me!
A Note From Pam
The above story is absolutely true. I'd love to tell you that since I met payroll this past Friday I have no concerns about day-to-day expenses or the next payroll in two weeks. Of course I am concerned, but the difference now is that I sleep at night. I am concerned, but not worried, and as I write this I can truly say I have a "peace that passes all understanding."
I have operated my business for over eight years and every day, without fail, my mind has been a never ending ping pong game. I have spent countless hours replaying all different types of "what if" scenarios. What if I don't have enough money? What if I'm not doing the right thing? What if I'm "missing something? What if this client doesn't pay? What if I don't get more clients? What if it gets worse? Worse? How on earth could it get worse?
Then there are the "should" questions: Should I hire more people? Receivables are low, should I fire people? Who should I layoff? How many days? Should I do something different? Should I do more marketing? Should I go after a different customer? Should I change my website? Should I borrow money? Who on earth is going to lend me money?
The hardest questions of all revolve around "me" because after all, the problems surely exist because I'm not doing something right. What should I be doing that I'm not doing? What am I missing? What is wrong with me? Is this what I should REALLY be doing? I thought I heard God's voice tell me to do this, but maybe I was wrong?
I have to work harder. I have to put in more hours. Yes, I'm working 80 hours now, but somehow I have to work smarter and put in even more hours. Push, push, push. Worry, worry, worry. Plan, plan, plan. Think, think, think and then think some more–back and forth, just like a ping pong ball. At the end of all of that effort, I am still weary, worried, depressed, scared, frustrated and broken.
But then God talks to me. I hear Him, very clearly, and for me, the most intimate life-changing conversations happen in those moments when I come to God with Dawn's support. Sure, I can pray and talk to God on my own and I do, but with her help I hear God on such a deep level that I can't seem to make happen by myself. I don't know why God set it up this way, but I trust His plan is perfect and it works.
I am much calmer and I think more clearly. I have learned that I my job is to focus on "doing" what God tells me to do. It is His job to take care of the "how." Every time I assume responsibility for the "how" I get into trouble. Last week I gave up trying to think of how to get money in my bank account to cover payroll. I left that part up to God and I focused on managing my time, my staff, my clients and the business. The result is that I had all the money I need to cover payroll and expenses for the week.
So here's the thing: I am so tired of worrying about my business and not enjoying it. I bet you are, too. I am so tired of working 80+ hours and not ever feeling caught up. I bet you are, too. With all my heart I want you know there is a different way to run your business. There is a much better way to live. If you're searching, if you're trying desperately to put thing in order, call Dawn and let God step in and take care of it.
If you're still hesitant, then here' my personal offer: I am more than happy to talk with you about this process. Simply contact Dawn and she'll give you my personal cell phone number. There is a better way, and I believe this is God's invitation to you to experience it.