The Nobility of Business

I am a businessman. Many of you are too, though you may not all realize it. If you hold a job, whether you own the business or not, you are in business. The business you work for is your “customer”.

I have grown up with the concept of business. At 10-years-old, my younger brother and I baked (with some of mom’s help) and sold banana breads (as well as blueberry, pumpkin, and zucchini) door-to-door. We also had a “distributor”, Grandma, who worked at a large office building with many of our subsequently happy customers.

At 16, I began an active pursuit in a growing area of interest, web development. By 18, I had written an article for a local newspaper and landed one of my first web development projects – I barely knew what I was doing and $600 seemed like a lot of money.

I continued my “career” in web development, constantly adding new skillsets and stretching myself from project to project. My maturing talent for writing and my desire to communicate as effectively as possible played a critical role in my success.

Today, at age 24, I have continued in the web development industry – and I am greatly enjoying it. My abilities have increased exponentially, as has my realization that there is so much more to know. The scale of the projects I work on has also increased greatly in size and complexity as well as in influence and impact.

I share all that for a reason. I have been in the business I am now, working with three of my closest friends, for almost four years. We have enjoyed a lot of success, especially by the standards of those on the outside looking in – yet we are keenly aware that its not yet what it could be.

Something hasn’t been what it could be. A lot of the “pieces” have been in place – the talent, the passion, the determination, the sticktoitiveness (its a word) – the components were in place, yet the success seemed to be more of occasional bursts than the desirable (and essential) steady stream.

I’ve had time for reflection these past few weeks. I’ve also taken the time (though I haven’t “had it”) to read. The reflection and reading, combined with a host of leading circumstances, have drawn me to a conclusion that my lack of success to the degree that I know God has given me the capability of has been through no fault but that of my own.

Tonight, that came to a head as I realized that somewhere along the line, I’m not sure where, I had lost sight of the nobility of business. I always knew that business was a part of who I am – yet I often wrestled with it. Being in web development means that I am often working with “intangibles”. You can’t “touch” a website. You can’t pick it up and turn it over in your hand. Consequently, for a time, I had allowed myself to put less of a value on the work that I do and that, in turn, consciously and subconsciously, impacted my ability to sell and deliver on my work.

No longer. Business is a noble profession that, I am realizing increasingly, is under heavy attack. When was the last time you watched a movie where the business man was the good guy? When you think of large, highly successful businesses – do you think of them as honest, full of integrity, and fully deserving of their success? I didn’t, and most people don’t. It wasn’t a conscious idea in my mind – yet it was an idea. That idea, the concept that business is something less than noble is a major inhibitor to success in business.

Think of it. We consider the hard-working American and the labor that he or she produces with his or her own two hands as “noble” – and rightly so! When, though, did that hard-working American become limited to the factories, fields, and mechanic shops? What about the men and women who build the businesses that employ many of these hard-working noblemen? Are the owners any less noble? Without a conscious consideration, I found myself thinking those thoughts and, subsequently, thinking less about the importance and nobility of my own work as a businessman.

That is changing, though. I am realizing that I have not valued the opportunities of business as I should. God has given me two eyes to see, hands to work, ears to listen, a mouth to speak, and a mind to think. He has given me the ability to work with those hands, to work hard and to do work that will bless others and be a blessing to me and my family in return.

The past 3 1/2 years of business have been the best and most challenging years of my life. I’ve undergone a lot of character development and as I have experienced those fires of growth and made choices for good, I have noticed and am continuing to notice a corollary increase in business success.

Business is noble. If you are working, you are in business, and I applaud and encourage you for that decision you made. Now, take a sanctified pride in your work. God has given you the ability to work – Do it with all your might. Put your heart into everything you do and focus on blessing those you work with – be they your drive-through customers, your lawn owners, your consulting clients, your large businesses, your government, your church, whomever – focus on blessing your customers.

I am excited to be in business. I am looking forward to what this year brings as I continue to grow, by God’s grace, in favor with God and man.

Jonathan Wold

P.S. The thrust of these thoughts came after reading the first chapter of Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Thanks to Joshua for pointing me in the book’s direction.