Guest Post: Holy Hustle
The other day I saw a webinar advertisement on how to achieve the “dream entrepreneurial lifestyle”. Lots of beach vacations with a Mai Tai in hand. Million dollar revenue. Even more vacations. Free nights, weekends, and a late start to every day. No hustle. Because if you’re hustling, then you’re doing it wrong.
And I was sad. Because it’s a false perspective on what owning your own business is like. And I’m not sure it painted an accurate picture of what God desires from our lives and businesses.
Since when did hustle become such a bad word? Since when did we all buy into this idea that we can have everything we want while barely working for it? Since when did we think that laying on a beach would be the best way to bring about economic and heart change in the people and communities around us?
It leads me to ask the question—why did you start your business? To meet your own needs? To achieve your own selfish goals? Or to work on behalf of the oppressed? To stand up for injustice? To provide a way for the under-resourced and uneducated to show their God-given value?
If we can take Isaiah 58 at its word, then read verses 10-12 and think about the power your business could have:
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Now maybe that sun-scorched land will give you a tan. And maybe it includes an exotic drink. But those are all by-products of spending yourselves on behalf of others. They are ways that He will satisfy and sustain you as you seek to bring real change to lots of people through your business.
I’m not saying the beach vacations don’t come. We are leaving this week for a long weekend in Florida. But the beach vacations and the million dollar revenue aren’t the end goals for me. They are not what brings my heart peace and rest. They don’t signal that I’ve made it in this thing called “business”.
They are ways that God is “strengthening my frame”. So I can come back and keep running hard.
Sure, it’d be nice to answer emails in a bikini on the beach of Hawaii, but it’s also nice to walk to work with earbuds in knowing that your work today is going to make a difference in the lives of people.
I’m also not saying that running your own business doesn’t lend itself to a better or “free-er” lifestyle. It’s absolutely amazing to be your own boss. It’s the best knowing that if your child throws up at school, you can go pick him up and watch movies for the rest of the afternoon—no guilt. It’s amazing to get to do something that feeds my creative cravings and perfectly fits my innate personality.
I just think there is a danger when we give up the hustle. I think we have set up a recipe for failure when our goals for running our business are free time, sun tans, and lots of money.
And I don’t even have time to get into what happens to our customers when we give up the hustle by jumping into pools of money that we are collecting from them. If we care deeply about our customers—which we should—then the “4-hour work week” lifestyle includes the idea of ripping them off and not returning to them the value that they deserve and paid good money for.
If exchanging our lives for people is not the definition of hustle, I don’t know what is. But it doesn’t have to come with weary hearts and tired minds. Holy hustle can do just the opposite. It can set our hearts on fire. And that fire can spread to others who choose to hold up their banners and join together in an effort to make real change.
I would like to try a Mai Tai, though. Maybe I can sip it here at work while I knock out my emails and pick spring fabrics. I am my own boss, after all. There are perks.
For me the word hustle brings up notions of burnout and working harder not smarter. Not what I want for my life. While I’m definitely not about building a business so that I can stop working and sip mai tais on the beach all day, as someone who works in NYC everyday, I know that hustling too hard is a recipe for meltdowns.
Instead, my perspective is to build, cultivate, chip away at the work in front of me steady and strong, then know when to take big leaps. But I’ve taken the word hustle out of my vocabulary when thinking about work because it just stresses me out. I think its possible to work your buns off and still know when it’s time to rest and rejuvenate. Knowing your limits is the important part!