Monthly Archives: October 2014

Entrepreneur Shaun Lee: “But he’s a skiver!”

I was delighted to meet Shaun during my recent visit to Singapore. He has a problem: his future mother-in-law thinks that entrepreneurs are “skivers”. “Before you get married, you need to get a proper job. Working for yourself is not acceptable!” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a skiver is evidently someone who is absent from work without permission and in Singaporean culture has come to refer to people who are slack, or idle or who dodge the responsibilities of a real job. Even if Shaun could produce impressive balance sheets and show that he is earning a living wage, the skiver label would stick!

When Shaun finished his compulsory military service, his A levels (British system) and a tertiary diploma he started a business after he saw the exorbitant prices people were paying for bicycle spare parts. He searched the Internet and found that he can import spare parts from overseas, sell them for less than local merchants and still make a handsome profit in the process. Using his own savings, he invested in stock and quickly learned what products move quickly to provide him a quick turnover. He has been able to build up stocks worth many thousands of dollars and his business is successful enough for him to pursue a long-held dream; to study pastoral ministry while supporting himself financially. When I highlighted Shaun’s creativity, his entrepreneurial talents and his investment of capital to produce income as an excellent example of good stewardship, students were not sure how to process my enthusiasm for Shaun’s talents. Eternal bachelorhood was a distinct possibility for their friend!

But Shaun’s skills remind me of the Proverbs 31 woman. She did not have a “proper job” but she was surely not a “skiver”. When you read this passage you get to know her as a very shrewd businesswoman. She was an importer, an estate agent, a capital investor, a market researcher, and a product developer. She had a supply chain that included contingency planning for unforeseen circumstances (cold winters) and while she was making handsome profits she did not forget her social responsibility to the poor. She had an excellent work ethic and on top of all of that, she must have been an outstanding “two career woman” as well because her children and her husband were extremely proud of her. One actually wonders what the old man did while his wife was so successful! The passage doesn’t say!

I sure hope that Shaun will be able to convince his future mother-in-law of his God-given entrepreneurial talents. We need people like Shaun who think outside the box and create opportunities where none existed before. His talents reflect several of the Discipleship Outcomes that are part of our Discipleship Assessment: creativity, the dignity of labor, working for the common good, and the fact that my work adds value to the economy!

It Takes a Team: Completing a Marathon

In 2008 my wife Kathleen Self completed the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon with Team in Training, raising funds for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Our lives had been touched by dear friends succumbing and surviving this disease, so Kathy embarked on a brand new journey. Though she lives an active life, Kathy had never run long distances or attempted anything like this.

Kathy joined a group called Team In Training and for six months prepared for the big day. She was immediately enveloped by caring, committed people all sharing her passion. Experts counseled on nutrition, stetching, pacing and proper hydration and rest. Coaches led the new participants on a graduated journey, increasing the challenges without our undue stress or risk of injury. Kathy still comments on the lifelong friends she made and the esprit de corps shared by the group.

When the day came, Kathy was ready. She prepared for a walk/run style of race, not an Olympic event. Seven hours later, she crossed the finish line, with family and friends cheering and over $3,000 raised for research. No blisters, no cramps, no pain other that the expected exhaustion fueled by the exhilaration of finishing well.

Christian discipleship is a marathon. Hebrews 12 reminds us to run our race faithfully, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the One who completed the race and now by His Spirit empowers our journey as well. UNLIKE worldly races, our efforts are not pursued in isolation. God has placed us in the Body of Christ (Romans 12l I Corinthians 12) and has an entire team prepared so we can run and finish well. Biblical stories, the fidelity of believers in history and our current pastors, leaders and friends are all cheering us on.

The Discipleship Dynamics Assessment is a great tool for knowing what areas of training need help and the ones that are strong. Defining where we are leads us to Discovering the resources we need, thus allowing accuracy as we are discipled and Disciple others. There is no “failure” or “perfection” in the scores and descriptions we offer. We are all in the race. As long as we keep moving, all the resources of heaven are available to help us go forward.

I (Charlie Self) recently joined my 31-year-old son and some of his peers for a lively evening of basketball. While I did not embarrass myself, the next morning I “discovered” some new aches and evidence of muscles unused! If I was going to play again, I needed to alter my workouts (I am in the gym often) and prepare wisely.

Whether you are brand new in your Christian journey, renewing your faith, or a seasoned veteran, the Assessment can help focus your whole-life “workouts” and propel you ahead. I am so proud of Kathy – but it took a team. God’s team is ready for you…and you are part of his team for others. Let’s get moving forward together!