For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6: 11
Can our businesses and careers be subject to attack by the ‘spiritual forces of evil’? And, if so, what does that look like?
Scripture can shed some light on this subject. We know that Job was attacked by Satan, and lost his business, his family and his home. That is as clear a case of Satanic attack as there is.
More subtly, we know that the Israelites, in their many seasons of falling away and worshipping strange gods, were often condemned for taking advantage of the poor and striving after money and wealth. These actions were certainly empowered by the spiritual forces of evil represented by the various false gods. Evil twisted their business to its own end.
And remember that Jesus, at the very beginning of his ministry, was subjected to Satan’s temptations.
So, we have some indications in scripture that evil can and does influence our marketplace lives. In order to examine the practical, day-to-day manifestations of evil in the marketplace, we need to rely on the experience of wise and mature Christian men and women who have striven against evil forces in the marketplace for years.
For a practical answer to the question “How do the powers of the dark world and the spiritual forces of evil war against our careers and businesses?” here is one person’s opinion. I see evil operating in the marketplace in these ways.
1. Keep them on the bench.
Evil has removed most of the Christian businesses from the playing field and they sit comfortably on the bench. No need to personally attack these businesses and their executives. They have been removed from the game.
These are those thousands of Christian-owned businesses who never consider the idea that their business or career could be a ministry – a powerful force for good in the communities they serve. These folks compartmentalize their businesses. They think that since they attend church regularly, they can operate in the marketplace as if they had no relationship with Christ.
This is one of Satan’s greatest ploys. By convincing millions of Christian businesspeople that their business and careers don’t matter to God, he has effectively kept them out of the game. As a result, millions of people, across time and geography, have never been exposed to a loving God manifesting through the heart and action of a Christian employer.
2. Cripple them with false beliefs and paradigms.
Certain false beliefs serve to rob a Christian business of its power in the marketplace and keeps them operating at a fraction of their potential. The forces of evil have sown some false beliefs among Christian businesspeople. Some of these are:
a. God isn’t interested in my business/career.
b. Ministry is only done under the auspices of the institutional church. So, my business is not a ministry.
c. If I am visible with my faith, I’ll jeopardize my business and offend people.
d. The obstacles to succeeding in business are too great for me to even try.
e. Success in business is all about making money.
No matter how pious you are, if you hold any or any combination of these beliefs, your potential has been severely crippled by the forces that instilled those beliefs into your head.
Until you rid yourself of these beliefs, your career/business will never reach its full potential to be a force for the kingdom.
These two major efforts of the ‘forces of evil’ are very successful and have served to keep the vast majority of potential Christian marketplace ministers on the bench and out of the game.
A few manage to emerge from this caldron of deceit. They see themselves as ministers to the marketplace and fully embrace that commitment. Since they attempt to be visible and impactful in the marketplace, they become subject to other sinister forces.
3. Harass and distract them.
For those who have embraced the ‘business is ministry’ concept and committed to having a kingdom impact through their business and career, the forces of evil resort to a much more hands-on approach – attempting to deceive and discourage us.
Here’s an example of what this looks like in real life.
A number of years ago I was filming a series of lessons for Bible school teachers.
Everything that could go wrong did. We’d arrive at the studio to film, and the cameras didn’t work. Or the lighting technician didn’t show up. Or an important bulb had burned out. There was always some glitch that prevented or delayed the filming. No filming session went the way it was supposed to.
We saw the same thing in editing. The editing equipment didn’t work, even though it was new and state-of-the-art. The software had a glitch. It was one small delay after another. What was supposed to take a couple of months took almost a year. I remember, in a fit of frustration, shouting, ‘What is going on here?”
What was going on was Satan was trying to derail the project. Today, we call that spiritual warfare. For those of us in business it means that Satan will try to thwart our business effort and discourage us to the point where we give up.
It’s a very real issue for Christian businesspeople.
Here’s another example involving the publication of The Good Book on Business, my most recent book. The Lord led me to write that book, and I had a very real sense of his guidance as I wrote it. Getting it published was another story. First, I sent it to my literary agent, with whom I had worked for 20 years. He repackaged the book and tried to sell it to mainstream publishers, who all declined, saying it was too religious for their markets. He suggested I find an agent who dealt with the religious market, as he did not. I contacted a half a dozen Christian literary agents and was rejected because I was not a pastor with a big church following. My book didn’t have the potential for enough easy sales.
So, after almost a year of pursuing a trade publisher, I decided to self-publish. I found a suitable self-publishing company and got the book ready for them. While the book was going through the publishing process, we created a marketing plan to sell it. At last, the book was published. We were happy with it, and were about to begin marketing it, when the publisher announced that they were going out of business and would no longer support any of their titles.
We put everything on hold and set about publishing it through Amazon. The process turned out to take twice as long as we had hoped, as we experienced glitches at every step in the process. Finally, two years later than planned, we got the book out and began marketing.
I attribute all the glitches and the difficulties to harassment by the spiritual forces of evil. Satan did not want this book published, and relentlessly tried to derail it.
Those are examples from my life, but they are hardly unique. Almost every Christian businessperson has a similar story of some effort being supernaturally hindered.
Satan is real, and the Bible indicates that he wants to destroy us and our works. He and his minions have the ability to intervene in circumstances and plant thoughts and ideas into our heads and in those around us in order to derail our efforts, discourage us, and eventually defeat us.
“Dogs don’t bark at tombstones. “I remember that expression booming from the lips of an old southern preacher years ago. His point was this – if you are just taking up space on the planet, like a tombstone, you won’t attract Satan and all the other detractors. But, if you are trying to have an impact, you’ll draw the attention of the forces of evil.
In our terms, if you believe that your business or your career is just about making money and has no potential to impact the kingdom, you probably won’t be bothered. Satan already has you where he wants you – distracted by money and impotent in the Kingdom.
If, however, you believe that your business and career can be a force in the Kingdom, and you are attempting to transform it into a Biblical business, you’ll attract the attention of the forces of evil.
In those circumstances, spiritual warfare is inevitable. You’ll be wise to prepare for it.