Shine Your Light: Lessons I’ve Learned in My Business

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” – Tom Brokaw

Although I’ve been in business technically for over a decade, I’ve only started getting serious about it for the last couple of years–that is, to make a profit. A business that doesn’t make money is, truthfully, just a “hobby.” Especially according to the IRS at tax time! There are a few things I’ve learned over the last several years which may benefit you, even financially, about having your online biz.

1. Do what you love. President Donald Trump said, “Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing.” Your business won’t go very far and certainly won’t be sustained without you loving what you do and your passion for it.

Passion is defined as “strong and barely controllable emotion; intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; a strong liking or devotion; an object of desire or deep interest; the sufferings of Christ between the Last Supper and His death.”

You may have heard it “Build it and they will come.” (This is a quote from the 1989 baseball movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner.) Your love and passion for what you do will not automatically and magically make raving fans and paying customers come, but it will salt their oats. They definitely won’t come if you’re bored or disinterested in your own products and services!

One of the reasons world-renown evangelist Billy Graham was so popular was because of his passion for his topic: God loves you, has a great plan for your life, and there is salvation in Jesus Christ alone.

Your passion for your business will be a magnet for others. It will also have the side benefit of making YOU happy. Love what you do. Life is too short to do otherwise!

2. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s easy when you’re in business, especially online, to start comparing yourself and your business’ success–or the lack of it–to others. This will then cause you to feel envious and jealous of others and “less than” and “not good enough.” This is not God’s desire for your life, dear friend.

God made you unique, a one of a kind masterpiece! Psalm 139:14 ESV says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

There is no one else in history, on earth now, or in the future who is like you! Nor does anyone else have a business like yours. God as the Creator of all things is the one who gave you the creative ideas for it. He will help you and your business to succeed as you walk in obedience to Him.

1 Kings 2:3 says, “… and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”

Sometimes when I’m on Facebook or other social media sites, I see other very successful business women and my heart starts to fill with envy and jealousy. I begin to feel discouraged about my own business. Then I realize that God hasn’t called me to do what they are doing. He created me to speak and write books. Those are the gifts He has given me, and that is what He wants me to focus on and follow Him.

Nobody else on earth has your talents, gifts, and abilities. Don’t discount yourself or your business. You are unique and you have something to offer others that nobody else does.

3. Check your motives. Are you in business only to make money? While there is nothing inherently wrong or sinful with making money (many of God’s greatest servants in the Bible were extremely wealthy, like Abraham, David, Solomon, Esther, the Queen of Sheba, the women disciples of Jesus who supported His ministry), if your motive is only to make money, you might wind up feeling empty and dissatisfied.

Mark 8:36 NLT says, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

God’s view of success is very different than the world’s view is. Billy Graham was an extremely successful man, because of how many people He led to Christ. In fact, he preached to live audiences of 210 million people in more than 185 nations. More than 3.2 million people responded to his invitations at his crusades. He was spiritual adviser to U.S. Presidents. In God’s eyes, Billy Graham was a great success!

We can’t take any of this material stuff with us when we die: our house, our car, our clothes, our furniture, our jobs, our money, our jewelry, our tech gadgets, etc. Although I like nice things as much as the next person, money and “stuff” aren’t the most important things in my life. My priorities are my faith in Jesus, my family, and fulfilling my purpose.

I don’t believe that making money is wrong or evil. In fact, I believe that many Christians have a wrong, distorted viewpoint about money, and they almost exalt being poor as somehow being more “godly” than others. This simply isn’t true.

It takes money to make a living. It takes money to pay bills. It takes money to spread the gospel to the nations. It takes money to eradicate poverty, illness, and other major problems. Money can be a big blessing! God doesn’t have a problem with people having money. He just doesn’t want it to take our hearts captive.

But as Tom Brokaw says (the quote at the beginning of this article): “Anyone can make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”

So very true. When I am six feet under, I want to have made a lasting difference with my life. First, I want God to be pleased with my life. Erma Bombeck said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.”

Second, I want to have made a difference with my family. It would not do any good at all to have achieved great worldly and monetary success if I didn’t minister to my own family. More than anything, I want my kids and grandkids to know how very much I love them. I’d lay down my life for them if necessary. My desire is to leave a legacy to them as a godly, praying, loving woman who inspired them with her excellent example. A woman who laughed–and cried–a lot. A woman who loved well.

Third, I want to have made a difference with others, all those whose life I touched. To always point others to Jesus. I want my business to reflect this as well.

I believe it’s very important to prosper in our businesses. Poverty doesn’t honor God. But I don’t believe that our business should ONLY be about money. It’s about reaching others and helping them with our spiritual gifts, talents, and skills–encouraging and motivating them to be their very best and to reach higher, and practically meeting their needs.

4. Learn something from others. Get coaching and mentoring. No man or woman is, or should be, an island. We need each other.

Find someone who is at least a few steps ahead of you in business and/or ministry success and follow them. Hire them as a coach. Learn from their great successes–and their mistakes.

I have made many mistakes along the way as a speaker and writer. Now I’m able to show beginner speakers and writers what NOT to do, as well as the things I’ve accomplished successfully. This helps them to not fall into the pitfalls that I have and they can progress faster than me.

Coaching impacts your life as well as your business by helping you to achieve your big (and small) dreams and goals. It keeps you accountable to take action to go to the next level of success.

Jesus modeled coaching by disciplining His 12 disciples. Two great Christian books on business success to read are “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived” by Steven Scott and “Spirit Led Success” by Dani Johnson.

Along the way I’ve hired many different coaches. I needed different ones at different times in my journey, and I’m thankful for each one of them. One time I had a business/writing coach who gave me very bad, unwise advice! She told me and our entire class to do everything ourselves, from designing the book cover to creating HTML sales pages (eek!) to writing the book to marketing. This was very WRONG advice for me!

I would cry trying to design my own website and doing the HTML sales pages. I learned this was something I was not talented or anointed by God to do. When I discovered the power of outsourcing (hiring people to handle the “techy” aspects of my job), it set me free! I could now have time and the liberty to do what God had anointed and gifted me to do–speak and write books.

Find a coach who is smart, successful, and savvy who can truly help you to succeed and go to the next level that you desire. If you are a beginner speaker or writer and need help, contact me at my website for coaching. I have different types of packages, depending on what you want and where you’re at in your online biz as a speaker and writer.

5. Finally, and most importantly, don’t ever give up! I have wanted to quit my online business so many times. In great discouragement and despair, I have cried so hard to my husband Ray, our daughters Heather and Leah, my sister Maria, and friends and business peers on the bad days.

I encourage you to not quit. I can assure you there WILL be bad days. Some very bad days. You’ll cry, and cry some more. You’ll have sleepless nights, worrying about your business like a newborn baby.

On those days, take a step back. Eat some chocolate, or chips and salsa. Go for an ice cream cone. Watch a chic flick. Get a massage or a pedi, pampering yourself. Spend time with family and friends. Tomorrow, your business–and its problems–will still be there.

There will be the good days, too. The days when someone in the audience where you spoke comes up to you and tells you that she’s never told anyone this before, but she had an abortion years ago. You sharing your story set her free from the shame and condemnation.

Or someone will email you and tell you that she read your book on Amazon, and it deeply touched her. It made her cry and laugh when you admitted you were not the perfect wife and mom, and you sometimes yell at your husband or want to bonk him on the head when he frustrates you!

Or a customer may contact you at your website and tell you how much your coaching or your other service blessed them. As my sister Maria Willis so often reminds me, if I have helped just one person, I’ve made a big difference in God’s eyes and that is all that matters.

Yes, you’ll get tired and weary sometimes. You’ll feel discouraged, angry, hurt, stressed out. It’s in these moments we can remember Jesus’ encouraging words in Matthew 11:28-30 AMP: ” “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

God wants to give you rest and strength, so that then you can get back up and do what He’s called you to do and to be in your life and business. It’s your time to shine and make a difference and encourage and help others. He believes in you. So do I. We are in the trenches together. Never give up and quit! Your life is making a powerful impact on others, and don’t you forget it.

“Be true to your heart… put your whole heart and soul into it, and then whatever you do, it will shine through.”–Jamie Brewer