Called to lead in business and church
What will help to restore broken communities the most – a church or a business?
OK, so that’s a deliberately provocative question! We’ve asked Dave Richardson, the lead elder of Kingsgate Church in Bury St Edmunds and also the owner of a successful optometry business, to talk about his call to both.
“From my conversion at 21 I have loved the local church and felt a call to lead in and serve her. I was at this time training to be an optometrist and I qualified at the age of 22. I had no desire to run my own business but the life led by the Spirit of God doesn’t always go how we expect.
“In 2009 I was offered the opportunity to open a franchise business. After prayer and council and believing the Spirit to have led us to open we started the business.”
Despite feeling clearly led by God to pursue a career in business, Dave didn’t always feel that this calling was acceptable to other Christians.
“I remember someone in the church saying I was becoming a capitalist. There is still a wariness around making money with some believers. However, I have found the business to be an incredible blessing and God has used it to teach me so many lessons about myself and others.
It wasn’t smooth sailing in other areas either. While building his business, Dave faced many challenges. Would he have done something different?
“It was very hard work for the first few years, but the blessings have far outweighed the difficulties. Almost everything I have learned about leading people has been in the business setting.”
In addition to the great training he’s gained from leading a business, God has financially blessed his business. This has enabled him to bless others, and that has given him enormous joy. In 2008, aged 25, he received a prophetic word from a stranger who said that ‘he could be trusted with money.’
Profit is a good thing in the right hands. In the Bible we see how Phoebe, a church member in Cenchrae, was a financial contributor to the ministry of Paul and others. This was not possible without money.
Seven years into his business calling, a new door opened up for Dave. “In 2016, I was asked to lead the eldership team in my local church. The expectation for many was that I would stop leading the business to take this on.
This seemed to me like when David was offered Saul’s armour in his battle with Goliath. Saul thought there was only one one way to fight the giant, but David, led by the Spirit, conquered the giant without Saul’s armour and God was glorified. In my case there was no peace in my heart to stop leading the business. The desire to serve and lead in the church was still strong, but so was the desire to keep and lead the business. Giving up the ability to witness to my staff, learn life lessons, provide for my family and to be a patron of gospel ministry was not something I felt led by the Spirit to stop.
“Since then the church has grown, the eldership team is strong and we have baptisms. The business is profitable, my staff are happy and they have opportunities to hear the Gospel; three of them attended at least some of an Alpha course this past summer, for example.
“I see no distinction between church life and business. There is one call on my life: to be a witness wherever He calls me.”
So perhaps the answer is that both business and church working better together could help restore broken communities?
Find out more at www.relationalmission.org/appeal