So many good comments on all the above topics… I hardly know where to respond.
As JC pointed out, there are good examples of strong, committed Catholics building very large businesses (like Tom Monaghan and Domino's Pizza). Having spent most of my time in the Evangelical Christian world, I'm sure I'm ignorant of numerous good examples from our Catholic friends.
Regarding singleness and ministry/business/etc., it is clear from Scripture and Christian theology that we are called to – and find our joy in – relationships. First, our relationships with our Creator, secondly, our relationships with others. Focusing our lives on anything other than relationships (money, success, power, Star Wars, eBay…) is a distortion of our created purpose, and a recipe for distorted living and pain in our own lives and the lives of those around us. Ministry should always be about others or it really isn't ministry. That's sort of obvious. (Although there are numerous examples of initially healthy ministries becoming distorted by ambition and greed.)
I would also argue, however, that business can be ministry when the focus is on others. Business can be about relationships, too. It's a little tricky, and virtually impossible when the owners of the business don't share an "others" focus (true of almost all public companies and most companies owned by private equity firms or financially-motivated investors). But it is possible. And it can be very exciting, because businesses can generate tremendous resources that can then benefit the sorts of ministries that can't internally fund their own operations. In other words, the more Christians start "Chik-fil-As" and "Hobby Lobbys," the easier it is for "World Visions" and "Compassion Internationals" to raise the funding needed for their efforts.
Okay… so we're wired for relationships. We find meaning in relationships. What I notice in the American church is that, for some reason, we have made "family" (meaning "spouse and children") our primary relational focus. All other relationships have been dropped down to a much lower rung. A much, much lower rung. It's almost as if the old European phrase "for God and Country" has been rewritten in America, "for God and Family."
Obviously, if you have a spouse and children, you have a biblical duty to care for them. But are my kids really more important than everyone else's? Do I let other kids starve while my kids throw excess food into the garbage? And do all Christians need to have kids? The Genesis commandment to "populate the Earth" is certainly compelling, but, looking around, we seem to have done that pretty well. And however compelling the Genesis command might be, Paul and many of the other early Christians clearly didn't get the memo.
Again, I'm certainly not saying family isn't important. I'm just wondering if, maybe… just maybe… we've made it a little TOO important. Perhaps we need a few more "priests" and "nuns" in the Evangelical Christian world – people completely committed to serving the needs of others. Always. No matter what the cost.
But maybe that's just me.
As for the veggies declining their invitation to the JellyTelly party, I agree, God can do anything. With nothing. JellyTelly can be exactly what He wants it to be, with or without the help of talking vegetables.
So on we go…
Thanks, as always, for your support.
I’m number 1! like michael phelps!
I’m number 1! like michael phelps!
As to your last comment Phil, I think maybe Jelly Telly will be a bit “fresher” without veggies. I mean, half of the post Bankruptcy VT episodes are not that great. I didnt’ like Duke and the Pie War or Moe and the Big Exit that much. there are others I could mention. I know your probably a bit hurt about the situation as it stands, but I think Jelly Telly will have to stand on its own without those cute (but Really Annoying sometimes) veggies
I think you’ve jumped off the deep end.
I think if it was just being a parent, that you would be able to do ministry and be a parent. But I think in today’s (American) society, we have to compete with the Jones’. Suzie has to be in softball, gymnastics and ballet, Jake has soccer, scouts and hockey, Mom has to drive them around to all these events and somebody (usually both parents) have to pay for it all. Plus you have to fit church in there somewhere.
We as a culture have forgotten how to rest and become still enough for us to hear God. We think that motion is what’s being asked of us, so we fill up out time doing things instead of being relational. Most families don’t relate to each other, they just organize their calendars.
But Paul was onto something. I was a stepdad for a while, and it is really time consuming and emotionally demanding. I think we do need single people to take new ground for the Kingdom. I know that I have significantly more time now than I did before. But there is a cost on both sides of that. There are benefits to being single and benefits to being a parent.
Society doesn’t help much with people that are called to be single. Everyone, and often people in the church, want to play matchmaker. Everyone just assumes that God wants everyone paired up. That’s not always the case, but singles are always pressured to date and marry. I tell people that I’m not dating and the look on their face is like I just kicked their grandmother or something.
My overstated point here is that God wants us all to be in relationships, but that doesn’t always mean marriage.
Phil, I think you hit this point well; we all have a vocation, and sometimes it is not to marriage. Catholics’ understanding of vocation is not necessarily the priesthood (for those who don’t know), but that our vocation is the “big thing God wants for us in life” (as I tell my girls who are 10 and 7). For some, this means the priesthood or religious life (again, going on as the Catholic I am). For others, it might mean the Sacrament of Matrimony and the life as a spouse and parent that this great Sacrament brings. For others, it might even mean a life as a single person, working in the world but bringing glory to God with everything you do.
Father Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, also taught about this last idea – bringing glory to God in everyday life – and helped people understand that even in everyday life as lay people, we can (and should) do everything for God’s greater glory. If this means that I do the laundry well today – with great love for my family – then so be it. By loving my family and caring for their needs, I care for the least of these. My actions can glorify God. If it means, for someone out in the world every day, that they do a sales presentation with great care and detail, then they can glorify God through their actions, too.
Saint Therese of Lisieux once said that we don’t have to do great things for God. Just do small things with great love. And this gives me great hope. I am not capable of doing huge things for God when I am busy with homeschooling and caring for our family’s home. But I can do small things with great love, and that is just as good for God. (Imagine if everyone did so!)
I think a lot of people look around at the world and feel overwhelmed. Where to start? What on earth can I do?? We know we can’t fix everything, and this world will never, ever be perfect until the end of time. But we can do what we can in our own world by loving our neighbor as ourselves, and caring for the “least of these” as best as we can.
Hopefully, that didn’t get too far off the point, but I really do appreciate it when people see that our contributions to God can be in every corner of life. Even just the quiet witness of living a good, Christian life while out in the world can make a bigger impact than we know.
I think we are all too selfish and lacking in faith. Myself included. How many are ready to jump off the deep end? What I mean is abandoning our own desires and plans and embracing God’s. Makes no sense to the worldly person, but perfect sense to a spiritual person. Perhaps if more of us were willing to do so, many many more Christian businesses and God led endeavors would appear and be large. J.B. Crouse, former president of OMS International, once said, “If God is your partner, think big!”
That’s true, David. God’s pockets are much deeper than mine! 🙂
s family too important? If you already have one, absolutely not. Our families are the biggest gift, vocation and ministry given to us by God that we can ever imagine.
Too many times I have seen married people jump into a business (or ministry) that then becomes more of an obsession than anything else. Time slips away, and the family suffers from not having dad or mom (husband / wife) around. If we do something great at the expense of our marriage or family, is it really of God?
On the other hand if a single person is called into a ministry (or business) by God and that vocation would benefit from their singleness, then that’s awesome! The Church should not pressure single people into a traditional lifestyle if that’s not where God is leading them.
This sounds sexist, so I apologize….but I think women are much more harshly judged by the church for pursung vocations that don’t involve marriage or family. Men seem to have Paul’s example to fall back on more readily than woman do.
Phil, I would agree: sometimes (and in some places), Christian culture has pushed marriage too strongly. Although, on the other hand (especially in urban centers), marriage and family probably isn’t pushed enough.
I’d say that instead of making “family” the primary focus of relationships, we need to make “community” the primary focus. A community includes families and singles all focused on following Christ and caring for one another.
In this setting, singles and couples alike can assist one another in raising families, starting businesses, and helping those in need.
This interconnectedness is so healthy, and very needed into today’s culture!
Genesis 2:18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
I appreciate the points about putting singleness and family into biblical perspective, but this originally started out as a discussion of Christians starting big, influencial companies. With all due respect to Phil, I’m not sure there’s a need for Christians to be running product or service businesses like Apple or Google. They may impact our buying habits, but little else that I can see.
The companies that have a big MORAL impact on our society are the ones Phil has already targeted – media companies like Disney and Viacom. If there’s a need for anything, it’s Christian media companies (like JellyFish Labs) who can make a maximum spiritual impact on people without having to get bogged down in the details of running a huge corporation.
I think one concern is that in many chuches in my area there are wives, and mothers, husbands and fathers, sons and daughters. There are sunday school classes for them. Support and guidence for them in their roles at home, work and in the church. What we have lost somehow is the role of brother and sister. The relationship of fellow belivers that is not based on demagraphic, but on a mutual relationship with Christ. In these relationships everyone’s gifts, abilities and callings can be brought to the table, and valued.
It is not a matter of family not being important, it is a matter of how we look at everyone within the curch (family) of God.
I think that way too many people have an idea that they need to keep up with the rest of the world. We have lost some of the servant attitude.
I have some concerns about many of the kids that I see that are shuffled from one thing to the next. Or, I hear about the parents who want to make sure that every waking moment of summer vacation is scheduled so their kids won’t be “board” and become a “problem.” I feel as though we are creating a me centered society. All of these kids who are scheduled from dawn to dusk with barley a moment to eat have a fairly grim future. What example dose that set? They don’t have to entertain themselves and expect someone else to do that.
My point is that I fear that a servants heart is not being emphasized enough. Of course some of that spills over to the parents. I have been told if my child doesn’t enroll in football now, he won’t play in high school, or if I want my child to be a catcher in high school, he must be on travel team every summer until then. I want my kids to have fun and do things that strengthen them as a person. However, I also want them to keep in mind that our goal is eternal, it isn’t to hit their peek in high school.
Whatever we do for the Lord is great. God knows our heart and if we listen and follow, God won’t let us falter. If he is calling us to be a great business person, God will help us accomplish that AND have a family if that is what God’s plan for us is. We just need to be still and listen.
I understand where you are coming from Mr. Visher and I totally agree with what ya said Kim.
I think that community has a lot to do with it, but also involvement within the church. There’s never much interaction between singles and couples and I think that might be part of the problem. I’ve been on both sides of marriage (twice), and when you’re single you don’t interact with married couples outside of work, and when you’re married you don’t have a lot to do with the single people.
Look at the nurseries in your own church, most people in there probably have kids of their own, or have had them at one time or another. The single people don’t have much interest in those areas until they have kids and then want all the programs that are available for kids. Singles tend to be shunned a lot in the church because they’re looked at like they’re incomplete or just there for the meat market.
Single people are almost pushed into getting married or at least being in the pursuit of marriage. We all get wrapped up in that and think that we have to be married right away. The thing is marriage may not be right for you right now. We have to wait on God for that the same way we should be waiting on Him for everything else. If you get ahead of God you’re going to regret it AND miss out on huge blessings that He had in store for you and possibly your spouse too.
Women can be great at business, too! Does the church or traditional family unit encourage women to be successful? That is a big question. Because having a conservative idealogy sometimes means being resistant to change. But maybe…just maybe there are incredibly intelligent women out there who would be amazing at starting a successful business with a ministry component.
I have belonged to many different churches over the years. The more liberal, mega type church is open to women being active in business, ministry, and missions. But the more conservative, mainline churches are still pushing marriage, motherhood and children’s ministry to the women in the chuch. It’s like that is what our predestined pinnacle of success should be, without question.
Traditional marriage, family and ministry works for me, and works for a lot of women in the church. BUT if a woman has a calling from God to pursure other things, then why is it looked on with raised eyebrows?
When I was in my 20’s (late 80’s) I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I was told by my dad to think more like a woman, and go into nursing ~ which I did. But I never felt fulfilled. That antiquated thinking may still be present in the church, and may be holding back the next big entreprenuer.
Proverbs 31 talks about women being good at business AND running a home. In this case it’s a wife, but I don’t think she waited to learn those things until after she was married.
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
I agree with you Mr. Vischer. I am almost 30 yrs old and I really don’t see the importance in getting married, never even had a boyfriend. I have no desire to do so, but the people around me think its soooo important but I just want to follow the Lord and what His plans are for me in my life. I am a quiet person but I am trying to be there for people who aren’t my “family or friends”, but at the same time be there for them to, if they need me. People who need the light of Jesus shining upon their lives, need more though. Paul even said that he would rather we not marry because we would concentrate more on the Lord’s work, but if we can’t contain ourselves then of course we should get married. That has been a quote I have remembered since I was a young Christian and always believed that the married life just wasn’t for me. Of course the Lord could surprise me one day but not today. And I am not saying that people shouldn’t get married, if that is a desire in their heart then they should go for it, that desire isn’t there by chance that’s for sure. But as for me I have been more interested in doing what the Lord wants me to do in MY life and those around me. And be there for people He leads me to. There should be more Christian businesses but they shouldn’t lose their focus on why there, there in the first place. And Who placed them there to begin with.
You will always have my support Mr. Vischer. As long as Christ is the center of your ministry. You have a servants heart, to serve the people and show them the truth that you know to be true, helping them see that truth in a loving way and an entertaining way that kids along with adults can relate to. God Bless you Mr. Vischer and your family too. Like Tiny Tim said “God Bless Us, Everyone.” Not just some but EVERYONE. 🙂
Great comments from everyone. I won’t pretend to be an “expert” with all the answers, but I think the conversation is both healthy and fascinating.
With the family thing…I think it’s not pushed enough. Well, a healthy family is not pushed enough. There are way too many Christians getting divorced for me to think family is pushed “enough” in our culture. Then again, perhaps the greatest need is for people to simply obey the Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about relationships (love, forgiveness, faithfulness, patience, keeping away from wrong-doing, all those things many aren’t applying). It talks about marriage, and marriage was expected in Jewish culture at the time. Then again, parents were not expected to be the only ones raising kids, nor did raising them mean spending so much time away from home. So it’s complicated. Perhaps the answer is for Christian parents to stop taking cues from culture. Raise their kids, but within the context of a Christian community, building relationships outside the home as well as inside it. We definitely need to be less individualistic and materialistic.
Just the opinion of a college student who wants to get married, and wants to have the ability to have many relationships outside of the marriage one. It’s interesting to me how much I’m supposed to gain from a marriage partner. Most of my relational needs are met through friends or family or God, to be honest. I could be single, but I want kids 🙂
Kyla: There are way too many Christians getting divorced for me to think family is pushed â€œenoughâ€ in our culture.
Ori: Maybe family is pushed too much, which causes people who shouldn’t get married to get married. But “healthy family” isn’t pushed enough, which causes even people who should have gotten married to get divorced.
One day, when JellyTelly expands to the teenager market, I think there should be a regular show about the care and feeding of marriages. By the high divorce rate, I think it’s obvious our teenagers are not learning what to do to keep a marriage going.
Just to add to my previous comments, some Christian denominations have a term for a woman who married the perfect man. That term is “nun”.
Just re-read this today. It is very thought provoking. Our youth pastor is always telling us that relationships are the most important thing….
All I can say is that anything – ANYthing – that we put ahead of God is sin. I struggle with that mightily, for I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and two fantastic kids. But I can’t worship them, or my family as an entity, or choose them ahead of God’s purposes for me. I would also caution those who are thinking of marrying to listen closely to God’s voice in the midst of your courtship; don’t fool yourself into believing that what others say is true, or that you can make a relationship work, or even that your betrothed’s certainty that you’re the one for them is from God. Heed the voice inside you, marry carefully and wisely – and, if you can’t, don’t marry at all. The pain of divorce just isn’t worth it. It wreaks havoc on so many lives, and not just yours or your ex-spouse’s.