Don’t Bury Your Shekel

Don’t Bury Your Shekel

No matter what level of business you operate in—whether you are a small business owner, a serial entrepreneur, a C-level executive, a regional manager, department head, factory supervisor, or shift manager—we have many things in common.  One of these is how we steward business investment decisions. As it turns out, my company faced considerable uncertainty about a stewardship/investment decision a few years ago. I had to receive what felt like a rebuke from my co-founder to understand this Kingdom principle with greater clarity. Please pay attention to this disclaimer:

What I am about to share was something that happened to my company and me. It happened under the LORD’s sovereignty and working in my life, for His purposes and by His will only. Take any insights He brings to you carefully and examine them against the Scriptures and promise me that you and your specific circumstances will be taken to the Cross in prayer. Make that commitment before reading further.

All that happened to my software business I credit to the LORD. Through some peculiar circumstances, we sold some intellectual property assets that we had developed over several years. Long story short, as we negotiated the purchase agreement for the sale of these assets, we were offered the opportunity to take an all-cash deal or take up to half of the value in equity. We chose the cash + equity option after I asked the executive team if this would dilute them and they indicated that yes, it would. Although this may sound odd to you at first, we realized that if they were willing to be diluted, it meant that they were committed to onboarding our technology and see that integration efforts back into their technology stack was supported at the highest levels.

After the deal closed and our company became a minority owner, we were subject to capital calls. A capital call happens when a privately (i.e., non-public) company requires additional cash. Each shareholder must fund their portion of the funds or face dilution as an investor. We’ve been subject to capital calls before, and it’s never fun because money is flowing in the wrong direction. Which, is why I had asked if the company would be subjecting investors to capital calls before choosing how much equity we would take during the negotiations. When they told us there were no plans to do any additional capital raises, we opted for the maximum permitted equity amount.

The first painful moment came a few months later when there was an actual capital call. The need stemmed from the company wanting to acquire some additional software assets. Those assets were complementary to those we had developed, so we understood the product roadmap benefits immediately. We paid the required amount based on our ownership percentage and by the due date. Because we still had excess cash reserves in the bank from the sale, which was above and beyond the anticipated tax liability from the sale of our IP, it was not a problem to fund the first capital call.

But, here’s where our journey gets complex. Later, a second capital call was required. This time, it was about fifteen percent more than the original amount. Our excess reserves were getting depleted by that time. We still had an enormous amount of taxes to pay, and it would be much more difficult to fund this time around. It meant that we would face dilution. Dilution is a big deal. If the company got sold, shareholders would be receiving less of the proceeds than they would have had at the original percentage ownership.

I called a shareholder meeting with my co-founder to discuss whether or not we would fund this second capital call request. By the way, it’s not like there’s ever enough time to think through the implications. We had a 3-4 business day funding deadline. So, at one point in the conversation, my co-founder said to me,

“We’re not going to bury our Shekel.”  

Of course, this comes from the parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 and specifically verse 18 “But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.” The other two servants put their master’s money to work and invested it wisely, yielding a good return. These two servants benefited from the master’s pleasure. Meanwhile, the one that buried his master’s shekel suffered one of the scariest and hardest to read verses in the Bible, Matthew 25:30:

“And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

It is not an accident that the Parable of the Talents comes right on the heels of the Parable of the 10 Virgins. We must be prepared to be the Bride of Christ and to await His coming; to be found with oil in our lamps and waiting, with purity, expectancy, and great joy!

Also, take note that before the Parable of the 10 Virgins is the entire Matthew 24 discourse about the signs and times we live in today. Note the red letters…this is Jesus talking!  It is where most of the End Times prophecy “sign of the times” context is found. Pay attention to the order of the Matthew 24-25 context.

  1. The End is Coming,
  2. Be found Prepared, faithful, and waiting with anticipation,
  3. Make sound investments given the stewardship of what the LORD Himself has given to us.

Still, think that you—as a Business Person Watchman—are above such accountability? Read the above in reverse order.  Your investments are needed (Shekels) to be found faithful, alert, and ready (Virgins), because The End is quickly approaching.

Our ministry team is faithful and consistent in its efforts to communicate that the calling to be a Watchman is difficult. In fact, it is humanly impossible to carry such a burden in the flesh (i.e., in our strength). The very nature of our calling requires us to yield as a pliable instrument of the LORD’s will and purposes for us. Fail and stumble at times? Yes. Get up and break off the things that entangle us? Yes. Refocus on stewardship of the shekels we’re entrusted with? Absolutely!

Therefore, after the truth of my co-founder’s words of faith and resolve wrapped around my heart and mind, we decided to fund the call on time. This second capital call was emotionally challenging to take on several levels. My co-founder was holding up the Biblical mirror to my face and declaring with greater faith than I that we should proceed with the call. But, between the two capital calls, it meant that we had re-invested over 25% of our total deal value back into the company in the first few months of becoming owners. It was unexpected and quite stressful.

There are moments that the LORD takes us through, when we are prayerfully yielded, so that we can be led through these business decisions for His reasons…despite our initial discomfort. In my case, maintaining our fully un-diluted equity percentage meant that on the sale of this company, we were able to fund parts of the iamawatchman.com ministry. You see, that second capital call yielded over a 50% return. In pure monetary terms, it’s not an earth shattering number, but after taxes, the net proceeds were enough to pay for our non-profit corporate formation, initial seed capital, corporate branding, website development, digital books, and infrastructure spend for the first year. Listen, it’s important to remember that this is my experience—your walk of faith is different than mine.

The LORD takes our role as a Christ follower and business person very seriously. It takes faithful businessmen and women—making decisions every day, each in their context, over many years sometimes—to follow His leading so that it enables other members of the Body of Christ (servants, like us) to come alongside—as Watchmen within the context of business—to take new ground for His Kingdom! What a joy to be subject to that second capital call!

Do you own a business and understand these business funding mechanisms? That’s nice, but what about all of our audience? Are you a factory line worker? Do you consider getting a production performance bonus a bury-your-shekel moment? What if you’re in food services and you receive a larger than expected tip? Do you have a moment of pause?

Shekels—at least for me—are more about the principle of being about our Father’s work and not about yet another business investment primer. Remember, it’s about people and eternity; it’s about faithfulness to strain towards the finish line (Acts 20:24).

As a business person, if you face a personal bury-your-shekel-moment, please carefully pray the situation through. Take it to the cross. Let a sense of His peace confirm your impending decision on the matter. Like the Widow’s offering of two mites (Luke 21:1-4), the amount isn’t what’s important because we each have different capacities. What’s so much more critical is the faithfulness in your act of stewardship.

This entire experienced stretched me. It took strong leadership from my co-founder to confront my wavering “do we or don’t we” moment. May the LORD guide and direct your steps as He uses your business and the investment decisions you make for His Glory. That is my prayer for you today.

To me, the Shekel does not represent the idea of generating profit for worldly benefit, but in making investments in people, in ministries, in efforts that will create lasting fruit and survive the Bema Seat judgment. We, as business people, must see and hear clearly; to resolve to join Holy Spirit in doing our part to support, fund, align with, and grow the LORD’s people throughout the Earth. One last thought: these are your brothers and sisters that you will spend all Eternity in fellowship with! It’s worth all of your wealth to bring just one more person into His presence! 

Amen.

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