Richard Blackaby Interview: How To Be A Difference Maker?

Richard Blackaby

Dr. Richard (Rick) J. Goossen, Chairman, ELO interviewed Dr. Richard Blackaby, President, Blackaby Ministries International, on December 21, 2018.  Dr. Blackaby will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming ELO Forum in Winnipeg on April 30th (see his bio HERE)  Dr. Blackaby is the co-author (with his father, Henry) of three books that are particularly relevant to Christian marketplace leaders:  Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville, TN:  B &  H Publishing Group, 2008); God in the Marketplace (Nashville, TN:  B & H Publishing Group, 2008); and Spiritual Leadership (Nashville, TN:  B & H  Publishing Group, 2011).  This is the fifth of a series of blog posts related to Christian entrepreneurs applying their faith in the marketplace based on the interview with Dr. Blackaby. 

You can view the previous blogs below:

Richard Blackaby Interview: Spiritual Disciplines for Christian Entrepreneurs

Richard Blackaby Interview: Christian Entrepreneurs & Risk 

Richard Blackaby Interview: The Meaning of Spiritual Leadership 

Richard Blackaby Interview: Christian Entrepreneurs & Risk 

Richard Blackaby Interview: Biblical Principles for Christian Entrepreneurs 

Richard Blackaby Interview: A Distinctive Biblical Approach to Work?

Richard Blackaby Interview: Spiritual Leadership Versus Leadership 

Richard Blackaby Interview: What Are The Challenges For Christian Marketplace Leaders?

Richard Blackaby Interview: Christian Entrepreneurs And Failing Well

RG:       Who are good biblical role models for being effective in the marketplace?

RB:        Well certainly the patriarchs, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Abraham is the father of the faithful and I don’t know if he ever preached a sermon, and he never wrote a book of the Bible. He was a business person who used his assets for God and he affected kings as well as many, many generations right down to ours today as a result.

An interesting one for me is Joseph of Arimathea.  Joseph of Arimathea shows up at the end of Jesus’ life.  He owns an asset, an empty tomb.  He owns a little bit of property and he leverages that for God’s kingdom.  To me, it’s interesting. That’s all he’s known for, but all four Gospels tell the story.  And all four Gospels add different truths and facts to the story.  He never preached a sermon, healed anyone, or for all we know, witnessed to anyone. All he did was use the assets and influence he had accumulated as a businessman and place them into God’s hands, and all four Gospels felt compelled to tell his story because it made a difference for God’s Kingdom.  Joseph, like all good businesspeople, was networked. The Gospel of John says Nicodemus came and joined him. So Joseph was a businessman with influence, networks, and assets. He surrendered them for God’s use for as long as God needed it, which in that case was just a couple of days.  And yet 2,000 years later, all four Gospels tell his story. There’s not that many things that all four Gospels tell. There’s only one miracle, the feeding of the 5000, that all four Gospels record.  Some of the biggest stories in the Gospels like the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, they don’t show up in all the gospels.  But Joseph of Arimathea does and so I look at that and say what does that tell me? 

The Bible seems to think that for a business person to surrender all his assets, his contacts, his skills, his network and place them into God’s hands – heaven celebrates that and wants that to be a model for generations to come.  It’s not how much you put in God’s hands that matters. It’s that you give him what you have and let God leverage it.  It’s fascinating what God can do with just a hole in a rock like Joseph had. 2000 years later people are still feeling the impact of that.

RG:       How can Christian marketplace leaders be more effective difference makers in society?  What I mean by that is often Christian business leaders, they’ve got resources, talent, relationships but sometimes they stay in the Christian bubble.  This ties into the course at Oxford – we’re trying to say to Christian business leaders that you can be, from a kingdom standpoint, more effective difference makers in church, in business, in society at large.  How do you think people can look at things differently to see how they can be more effective difference makers in a broader way?

RB:        I would begin by citing my life verse which is Ephesians 3:20:  ‘Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”  My dad always taught me that if you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer.  And so, ‘what do you think you can do to have a bigger impact’ is not the right question. The right question is, ‘what does God want to do through your life to exert the greatest impact?’  You can’t even imagine the magnitude of what God could do through you.

The first thing I tell business people is to stop trying to come up with the plan yourself.  Surrender to God. Spend time with God and ask ‘What’s on your heart for me? You’re the one who gave me all these skills, you gave me these abilities, you’ve blessed me with this success, you’ve given me these assets. Why did you do that?  Why have you wired me to solve problems this way?  Why have you given me all these contacts? This highly capable staff? My network?  What is it you’re doing?  What’s this all about?’  God can do things through you that you’d never dream of doing yourself.  One of the biggest issues I find is a bunch of successful business people thinking that they can dream up stuff that will impress God.  ‘God, look at what I came up with for you!’  And God would say, “Great. But I could have done exceedingly abundantly more than that.’  The first thing is to get yourself in a place where you’re pursuing God’s agenda, not yours.  God’s agenda will always have more dimensions to it, more ramifications to it, than what you could come up with.

Second, I would say, take an inventory of what God’s put in your hand.  When God told Moses to go back and deliver an entire nation from Egypt, Moses was overwhelmed at the magnitude of what God was trying to do through his life.  Moses kept saying, ‘God, that’s too much! You’re trying to do more through me than I can possibly do.’  Of course, God’s response in Exodus 4 was, ‘What’s that in your hand?’  He had a rod, which he’d used for forty years to herd sheep. It represented 40 years of shepherding experience. God said surrender that to me, throw it to the ground, let go of it.  And when Moses let go of what he’d used for his living the last forty years, it suddenly became far more than just a rod. Now it was a snake.  And it terrified Moses.  For forty years he’d held this rod and the moment he surrenders it to God it becomes far more than a rod.

When I work with business people, I ask them, ‘What has God put in your hand? There’s probably far more to what God’s put in your hand than you’ve been using so far.  You’ve been using that property just to get rental income or to buy and sell for a profit, but has God put some things in your hand that could have far more to it than what you’ve ever seen before?  Let God open your eyes to see there’s more in your hand than just a rod.  It only became much more once it was surrendered to God.  So I would say, what is in your hand, that, if surrendered to God, would become far more than it’s ever been before?  Sometimes it’s not necessarily that God adds more to it, it’s just that he magnifies what we already have.  We’re always looking for what God is going to add to our life, but sometimes all God does is magnify what is already in our hand.

There’s no question that God wants to use His people today to exert a far greater impact than they have experienced before.  There’s no question that God wants the church to have a greater influence on society than it is currently exerting.  The question, is why is God not doing more at this point?  I think it’s because the church and God’s people keep trying to come up with the plan themselves. They keep coming up with a new program.  Let’s try this program, it’s new and improved and has a new software program available.  We’ll do a lot of online marketing for it.  And God says that’s child’s play compared to what I could do.  But no one will come to Me and listen to what’s on My heart.  That is God’s great invitation to His people. Go to him and ask, ‘What is it you want to do?’  You could be an 80-year-old businessman herding sheep and God says, ‘Through you I want to set a whole nation free,’ and it blows you away.  My dad used to always say if what you’re pursuing doesn’t scare you to death, then it’s probably not from God.  We tend to go for what’s safe and what we think we can manage.  God has a way of overwhelming you, because God does God-sized things.  We do people-sized things.  I’m to the point in my life where I don’t want to spend the rest of my life pursuing people-sized things.  I want to be a part of something that only God can do. Before I die, I want to be a part of a God thing.