6 Thoughts on Handling the Messiness of Urban Business as Mission

Employing people rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison is a messy business.

Running a faithventure has to be a calling from God or else the many problems you encounter will overwhelm your enthusiasm. 

In Father Greg Boyle's fantastic book on the difficulties and rewards of employing ex-gang members, Tatoos on the Heart, he writes about the need to follow God to make the various businesses of Homeboy Industries work:
Not much in my life makes any sense outside of God. Certainly, a place like Homeboy Industries is all folly and bad business unless the core of the endeavor seeks to imitate the kind of God one ought to believe in. In the end, I am helpless to explain why anyone would accompany those on the margins were it not for some anchored belief that the Ground of all Being thought this was a good idea.
If you're thinking about starting a faithventure or employing people rebuilding lives a couple thoughts:
  • Make sure it's a calling from God: I can't over-emphasize that God needs to be the center of why you do this because you will face unique difficulties.
  • Partner with other ministries such as transitional homes: Don't try this on your own. There are churches and other ministries willing to partner to provide the holistic care individuals rebuilding lives require to succeed.
  • Get the proper balance of salinity in the organization: You need an adequate level of "salt" in the organization to deal with challenges. At Belay Enterprises, we like to promote people from within the program up to leadership because they have a unique ability to speak into the lives of others. But we need to be very careful about also balancing that desire with others with a ministry heart that are not rebuilding lives from the same challenges of addiction, homelessness and prison. It is very difficult getting the balance right but if it's off kilter it can harm the organization.
  • Find time to pray: If you're truly serving people with significant barriers to employability, you need God to show up to succeed. As a business person, sometimes it's easy to overlook the importance of time in prayer. God loves to guide us and show up when we call out in need. I'll say it again: remember to pray.
  • Learn how to be a peacemaker: Ken Sande's book, The Peacemaker, is a fantastic resource for creating a culture where conflict is resolved in healthy, biblical ways. It is an absolute necessity to learn this skill. 
  • And strengthen your faith muscles: Constantly seek ways to trust God more. Call on the Holy Spirit to build up your faith and the other fruits of the Spirit. Over the years, I've learned that the opposite of faith isn't the lack of belief, but unnecessary worry and anxiety. Seek God and learn to trust Him more.

Today we are having an unusually messy day at Belay Enterprises. In fact, it's been a messy month. But we hang on because we know from experience these things ebb and flow. 
And those glimpses of grace when people who spent the last 15 years struggling with addiction, find faith, sobriety and a career with a future through Bud's Warehouse make it all worth while.


Keith Labriola said…
Jim, Thank you so much for posting this. As I work through the details of starting just such a project, I couldn't agree with your highlighted points more! Thanks for confirming that although what I know about business is a great tool, I have so much more to learn if I want to be successful at what it is God has called me to do, to create a business that will have the potential to impact broken lives in a positive way.
Joanna Meyer said…
Praying for you guys and so grateful for the insight you share on the blog!

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