The Model Steward Canvas
The concept of having a business with a heavenly purpose is, for many Christians, an uncommon combination. However, Ken Long, PhD, in his latest book, The Model Steward Canvas, empowers the readers through an innovative concept. His objective is to inspire entrepreneurs to start businesses with a kingdom purpose. As a foretaste to the reading of his book, we share with you the interview below.
Dynamic Steward: The title of the book has the uncommon yet thought-provoking combination of the words “business” and “kingdom purpose.” What is the concept behind the philosophy of the book’s title, as well as “business as mission?”
Ken Long: In 2019, I was involved in running a two-day workshop for businesspeople in Papua New Guinea on the theme “Stewardship, Discipleship, and Business Principles.” The attendees were quite surprised about the combination of business and church together, as people believed that they should be separate or that church administration looked down on businesspeople. We reassured them that God wants businesspeople to work together with the church, as we are all stewards. God created us with the express purpose of being His stewards, as mentioned in Genesis 1:26. We must be faithful stewards of everything God has given to us, and we must use His blessings God’s way, for His glory.
The concept of “business as mission” is a business operated according to biblical principles and values, by a Christian entrepreneur who aims to be a profitable business which brings glory to God and has a kingdom impact. Moreover, it is intentional about its kingdom purpose and impact on its staff, customers, suppliers, and the community. The focus of the business is on the 4 P’s of the quadruple bottom line—People, Planet, Profit and God’s Purpose. Additionally, to stretch the business to the mission idea, it is when a significant part of the profits from the business are invested in God’s kingdom and charitable purposes.
DS: Which mindset should an entrepreneur adopt as he/she starts a business?
KL: God has given us everything that we need, and we must use these blessings for His glory. Like Abraham, we are “blessed to be a blessing.” When we have this mindset, we embrace the idea of starting a business with a kingdom purpose, or as mentioned previously, a “business as mission.” The entrepreneur should be intentional about setting up and running a business based on Christian values. In the book, I relate the incredible story of my friend Lorraine and her late husband, Norm, who dedicated their business to God. They couldn’t borrow any money because Norm was bankrupt, but with his faith, a miracle began. Sales started to pour in, and over time the business became profitable, as “God never stopped working that business.”
I believe that by accepting God as your partner, no limit can be placed on what can be achieved. When you go into partnership with God, you’ve got a partner closer and more active than any human, and God can make a big impact on your business. God gives us gifts, talents, and blessings so that we can bring glory to His name.
Ten years later, after a tragic car accident, Lorraine was left in a dilemma. She didn’t know how to run the business by herself. She made a private deal with God: If God decided to help her, she was willing to give all the profits to support God’s kingdom. Sales kept increasing, and the profits kept going up. She testified, “I only survived in business because I totally depended on God, as many of the problems were far greater than I had the answers for.” As a Christian entrepreneur, choose God as your partner, remain faithful to Him, and your business will prosper. Then these blessings can be used to help different people in various places.
DS: How can one start a partnership with God?
KL: Firstly, we should recognize that we are stewards. Furthermore, in my book, I talk about the tension between the “freedom of independence” and God’s way, the “freedom of dependence.” So basically, the world is focused on the freedom of independence, and we work approximately 90,000 hours to accumulate money and gain our freedom from others. However, the concept brought forward by God encourages us to embrace a different perspective. God offers the freedom of dependence as an alternative. In our partnership with Him, if we put God and His kingdom first in our lives, all the necessities of life will be provided. So, giving is an act of trust. It doesn’t take much faith to give God whatever money is left after we’ve paid for everything else, but it does take faith to give money off the top. In my book The Giving Equation, the fact of giving to God is often a synonym of less money, which resonates with less life. But the truth is that giving to God is more abundant life. In God’s economy, you give, and you get more. “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38).² You give away your life, but God gives you back more life with bonuses and blessings.
DS: What happens if things do not go the way they planned it?
KL: If there’s one thing you should remember, it is that God is your companion. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) reminds us that even though the outcome may not be our expectation, God is in control. If you have faith in God and you’re fulfilling God’s purpose, then you can go ahead with confidence. Even though things do not work out the way you want them to, they work out the way God wants them to. The business world can be tough, but confidence in God makes life a lot simpler, and trusting in Him reduces our worries.
DS: There are several tools that are shared in this book. Among them, the concept of “segmentation” is mentioned. How does it impact one’s business?
KL: When I start a business, the reality is that I cannot reach everybody. Therefore, I must try and reach customers within specific segments of the market. Understanding your market allows you to deliver products or services more specific to their needs.
DS: To conclude, which part of the book resonates the most with you?
KL: The Model Steward Canvas provides a simple plan on a page framework for how to set up your business. Moreover, it is intentionally having a kingdom purpose business, and it depends on how you operate the business, how you treat the staff, the customers, the suppliers, and the community. I also like this quote: “Teach a man how to establish a fishing business, and you not only feed him for a lifetime but bring benefits to his family, the community, and church.” So, the idea is that if you can help a person to start a business, they will be more self-sufficient. They can make more money for themselves, their family, and their community; have a better lifestyle; and, finally, invest in God’s kingdom.
1 Alex Cook, “Business—The Not So New Mission Field,” Wealth with Purpose, August 23, 2016, https://wealthwithpurpose.com/investment/business-....