Dick van der Walt is the Executive Director of the Tala Group. He also serves as the Chairman of Mergon’s Investment Forum and a trustee of the Mergon Foundation. Drawing from a distinguished career in law and the commercial sector, Dick has been instrumental in helping establish Mergon and shape its course, from its earliest years until today.
A season of rebuilding
Now that the Covid curtain is lifting, leaders are left to navigate a new and unfamiliar terrain of business. For most leaders, it’s a season of rebuilding; for many it’s a time of significant transition that demands a shift in thinking. These are liminal spaces we lead in, where the disorientation of ending one reality and stepping into another requires more than human wisdom alone.
How do we then build sustainable resilience to repeatedly move from disorientation to inspiration?
Scripture is rich in stories of men and women who, in the fog of indecision and uncertainty, found God’s clarifying perspective to navigate their way to sure footing. The book of Zechariah is a good example of that for me.
Here was a nation who had returned from exile and been given an assignment to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. But adversity seemed to await the Israelites’ every move, resources were limited and progress remained slow. Despondency and demotivation kicked in, the mission seemed increasingly unattainable.
Into this context of despair God spoke:
(Zechariah 4:6) ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zurubbabel, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord. (verse 9) ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.’
In Greek the word ‘might’ speaks to, amongst others, financial strength; ‘power’ to individual ability or talent. God is essentially reminding us not to have misplaced confidence in our own ability and resources. The ‘temple’ that God wants to build in us and through our businesses will not be built by human effort alone or accumulated wealth but God working through us, who is ultimately the source of all wisdom and provision.
In these uncertain times, I believe God is encouraging us to lead with a mindset of abundance. It’s a mindset that is often counter-cultural but foundational to the Biblical perspective, rooted in the confidence of God’s all-sufficiency. And I believe this mindset will serve as a compass when building and operating businesses with purpose and hope in these trying and uncertain times.
Building a Temple
It’s liberating to know, God is specific in His assignments. We do not have to be all things to all people. There’s an assigned lane for each of our organisations, and only when we stay within these parameters can we expect to enjoy God’s supernatural provision. Having an abundance mindset leads us to be discerning and discretionary around our activities and investments, because we understand we’re merely the stewards of these resources.
Zurubbabel had a specific job to do, and he was obedient to do it.
Likewise, our job is not to create a dominating brand or even to necessarily chase after an ever growing balance sheet. Our job is rather to be faithful to the task that God has specifically assigned to us. This kind of conviction should lead us to pray, earnestly, and to approach our work with great humility, knowing that everything is on heavenly loan. We can measure our success independent of corporate benchmarks or capital gains, but ultimately by how often we hear God’s commendation: ‘well done, good and faithful steward’.
Gaining God’s perspective
Zechariah’s prophecy came at a key time in Israel’s history, when the temple project had been on a two-decade hold. Zerubbabel was encouraged to look beyond his own limited perspective, believe God at His word, and take to the task of building God’s temple. As a result of his obedience, the temple was completed – the same temple that Haggai prophesised ‘would be greater than the former’ because Jesus Himself would worship there.
Although Zerubbabel’s temple wasn’t architecturally as splendid as the former, the Lord’s abiding presence is what gave it significance. In our businesses, we want to forge spaces where Jesus can show up, unhindered. Where the lure of prominence, visibility and brand never overtakes our dedication to be stewards of His provision and servant leaders to a broken world.
For God to show up, it means that we must show up too. Zerubbabel could never have known what he was building or whether he would finish what he set out to do. He simply picked up the trough and began the work. When we cannot see the whole picture, an abundance perspective simply helps us to start with the job that God is calling us to. Similarly in our business endeavours, we cannot predict how today’s actions will impact the future. But if we just keep ‘showing up’ – with joy and integrity, faith and perseverance – who knows how our workmanship will host His presence both now and into the future?
Being the lampstand
To be a ‘temple’, our organisations need to position themselves as ‘people focussed’, creating platforms that foster others’ callings to come to the fore and flourish. Then we can be that lampstand in Zechariah 4, giving light to darkened spaces and evidence of God’s sustaining hope.
In our modern context the encouragement and wisdom found in Zechariah 4 reminds me of the love of the Father, whose desire is to meet us in our unique context of a broken world and be our source of hope and provision. It is the backdrop of God’s desire to continue the rebuilding of His temple in us, and work alongside with us, to create places rich in mercy and redemption.
May God grant us all the grace to learn how to live ‘not by might not by power but by My Spirit’ – and may we be faithful stewards of business that, through His abiding presence, can change a broken world.
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