Navigation: This page ''
---> Main Page ---> Author. Contact. About Page.

Entrepreneurship - A Christian Perspective

This article assumes that entrepreneurship is valid for a Christian to be engaged in, but with the proviso that it takes on a very different form and is motivated very differently. Some of the characteristics of the entrepreneur are (from Drucker, Schumpeter, etc.):

Others suggest various psychological needs or motivations, but as we will see below, these can be altered.

Most assume the entrepreneur is economically active, bringing a new product to market, such as Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, but we will also look at one who exhibited entrepreneurial skills in a different field, that of missionary work.

J. Hudson Taylor as Entrepreneur

J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) was a pioneer missionary, who was driven by an idea to adopt novel methods and found an organisation. He felt God calling him to China when he looked at a map of China and, by pure reason, was exercised about the millions of people there who knew nothing of Christ. The idea that drove him was to reach "China's millions"); whereas most missionaries of the time to China stayed near the coast, Taylor wanted to reach inland, where no missionary had yet gone. He eventually founded the China Inland Mission to support this purpose. Unusually for the time, it was non-denominational and accepted working-class people and single women as missionaries.

He converted sources into resources in a number of ways. He himself was a source, and converted himself into a resource for missionary work by undertaking medical training. He lived in a poor part of Hull, doing mission and good work. He trained himself to rely on God for his needs.

He decided that he should not go to China until he had been able to "move God through prayer", so he decided to refrain from asking his then employer, a forgetful doctor, for his pay, but instead 'pray it in'. At one point, he was so destitute from lack of pay that, after several tantalizing "Oh, I must pay you; please remind me", he resisted this and resorted to earnest prayer. That night, a patient came to the doctor's house at 3 am to pay his bill, feeling an irresistable urge inside to do so; the doctor then passed this to Taylor as his pay. Hudson taylor had at last found he could "move God through prayer alone".

In China, his first year was turmoil of civil war, but he made the most of every opportunity. After that, he discovered barriers to his effectiveness as a missionary, and rather than bemoaning them, took unusual steps to resolve them. He found he was called 'black devil' because of the black British coat he wore, so adopted Chinese dress - much to the scandal of the other missionaries. He also adopted Chinese hair style. He decided that in all things "not sinful" he must affirm the culture of the people to whom he was offering Christ. Even at the expense of comfort, convenience and the acclaim of other missonaries.

He can be called an entrepreneur for the following reasons:

Christian and Secular Entrepreneurship

The difference between Christian and secular entrepreneurship lies not in the characteristics above, not in whether the venture is financial or religious. Christian entrepreneurship might work at some 'secular' product, but it has a different motivation and reason. Secular entrepreneurship is usually motivated by self, or by being in love with a product or idea, whereas a Christian entrepreneur works for Christ or others. Secular entrepreneurship is lauded as a Good in itself, entrepreneurship for entrepreneurship's sake, an end in itself. Entrepreneurs are admired just for being entrepreneurs, so that students and faculty in business schools fondly imagine becoming entrepreneurs, even without have any specific product in mind. Christian entrepreneurship is always in pursuit of some more important goal, a means to a more important end. As a result, in secular entrepreneurship the product itself might be quite trivial or merely 'aesthetic', whereas in Christian entrepreneurship, the product always has an importance beyond the aesthetic - undertaken in service of some more meaningful, more important cause - some genuine need or issue of justice. Secular entrepreneurship often aims to tickle the fancies of the wealthy and the affluent, whereas Christian entrepreneurship aims to meet a need of the marginalized, disadvantaged and poor.

This is summarised in the following table:

Comparison between Christian and non-Christian Entrepreneurship
Non-Christian Christian
Motivation For self, or for an idea or product in itself For Christ, or for others
Reason Often entrepreneurship for entrepreneurship's sake A means to an end
Product Often trivial A genuine need or justice issue
Target beneficiaries The affluent and their fancies The poor and disadvantaged, and their needs

Even non-Christians can engage in 'Christian' entrepreneurship - people like Mohammed Yunus, with his idea of social business and micro credit and Mahatma Ghandi, with his idea of non-resistance in pursuit of dignity for the Indian people.

Steve Jobs and Hudson Taylor

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, is seen as a model of entrepreneurship. He brought a new product to market, based on a new idea (aesthetics in computer technology - including on the circuit board!), worked hard to overcome barriers, found resources, did things in new ways, developed a company to support the idea. But the contrast with Hudson Taylor could not be more stark, as the following table shows:

Steve Jobs Hudson taylor
Always wanted his own way Gave way to others, for Christ's sake
Serving self Serving christ
Attention to aesthetics Attention to eternal worth
Cheated others Was cheated by others, but trusted Christ
Unjust Always worked for right and justice, especially for the poor
Mean Generous
Disloyal to those who had served him Loyal to all, even to those who criticised him
A bully Relied on Father God to accomplish what was needed
Wanted to be a god, demanding absolute loyalty Humbly served the true God
Self-centred Sacrificial

Sources of information: Steve Jobs, Icon - The Unauthorised Biography, the Wikipedia page about Hudson Taylor of 7 June 2014, and The Man Who Believed God and sundry other biographies of Hudson Taylor.


Christian entrepreneurship is distinguished from it secular counterpart, not by being religious, but by its motivation and in that it is never undertaken for its own sake, but in response to a genuine need. So, any Christians who feel they might have an entrepreneurial gift, should not just exercise the gift for its own sake, but always genuinely in service of a need, and should not be motivated by self, not even the self-actualization of the gift, but by love of Christ and others.

This page is offered to God as on-going work. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Part of his pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext. Number of visitors to these pages: Counter.

Created: 7 June 2014 Last updated: 9 June 2014.