What About Partnering to Build a Business?
This weekend I will be presenting a workshop on personal finances and entrepreneurship out in the Sacramento area at The Home Church…One of the questions that always comes up as people consider how to get into business for themselves, or how to grow a struggling business is, “Should I consider partnering with someone who is already successful?” This could be a formal partnership where two people team up to build a business, or an alliance. Both are tempting when the economy is down or funding is tight…Jehoshaphat offers some important insights on this topic in II Chronicles 20.
Jehoshaphat’s First Mistake
Jehoshaphat is King Asa’s son – King of Judah. Both men honored God and walked in His ways, for the most part. We see earlier in Jehoshaphat, a weakness for partnering up with the ungodly when he permits his son to marry into Ahab’s family (II Chron. 18). While celebrating with Ahab and his family, Jehoshaphat is enticed into going to battle with Ahab against Ramoth Gilead. Even after the prophet’s warning, Jehoshaphat heads off into battle with one of the most ungodly men in the Israel family. Ahab is killed, as prophesied, and Jehoshaphat escapes with his life – but only after crying out to God for help. This partnership almost ends a successful career as King of Judah, and does leave his son without a father-in-law.
Jehoshaphat had been successful up to this point. In fact, in both chapter 17 and 18 of II Chronicles we read, Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance(17:5 and 18:1), and became increasingly powerful (17:12). Jehoshaphat was living well! God had blessed him. After his fall with Ahab, Jehoshaphat reforms. He sets up judges and begins a discipleship program in chapter 19. When Ammon and others come against him, he cries out to God and is again spared. For three days they collect riches off of the defeated (and dead) armies. Everything looks good – and the text even tells us that he lived according to the Lord. But then there’s a short addendum starting in II Chronicles 20:35, “After that…” After what? After all of that success…
Jehoshaphat’s Second (Bigger) Mistake
Jehoshaphat forms an alliance. This isn’t a marriage vow or a formal business partnership – it’s just an alliance with another successful king – King Ahaziah, king of Israel (a wicked king). After all this success, Jehoshaphat has in his mind to build up a new venture involving ships – evidently to be used in trading in Tarshish. What is Jehoshaphat doing? He is reaching out to another successful man, who does not serve God, in order to make some more money. At this point we read the indictment given by the prophet, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah (a wicked man), the Lord has destroyed your works.” This word comes to Jehoshaphat while things are still on track…but then we read, “Then the ships were wrecked, so they were not able to go to Tarshish.” Does God want us to rely on other successful men, who are not walking with God, in order to make a profit? I am sure if Jehoshaphat were here, he would testify, “No – look to God, prepare you heart to seek after God, and as he brought success to me at the battle of Ammon, he will show you the way too.”
© 2013, David Stelzl