OK. By now you know the drill. If you’ve been around any length of time and appear to have any interest in succeeding in life, you’ve probably been approached by someone very excited to tell you about a “ground level” opportunity where you can be financially independent by working just a couple of hours per week in your “spare time”. Often, the approach is a little more subtle than that. In our case, another couple invited us over for dinner. Wondering how to come prepared, I asked what the agenda for the evening was. They said they wanted to discuss a business opportunity with us. I asked if they were going to solicit my involvement in some kind of business and was told that they wanted only to get my “opinion” on this opportunity. Sound familiar to anyone yet?
Well, they were pretty good friends and had started and sold a number of businesses, so I was intrigued and looked forward to the evening. After an intimate dinner, the doorbell rang and a couple whom I didn’t know or expect showed up. No one explained their arrival so I thought they just dropped in. Then another couple and another. They all knew each other. Something was going on and we were feeling a little uncomfortable. When the last fellow showed up, he had a white board, magic markers, and a big smile and apologized for being late. Late! Late for what? Everyone knew why they were there and everyone knew why we were there—except us!
Before he started sharing the business opportunity, he began talking about dreams. Big dreams. Really big dreams. I still didn’t know what company he was with, but it was obvious he had an agenda. When pressed for some detail, he indicated they were some kind of international concern with broad interests in a number of areas with sales in the billions of dollars annually. I was starting to recognize the tune and was pretty sure I knew the rest of the lyrics to that song. When he started spinning circles on the white board, my wife headed for the door and I soon followed as we came to grips with the fact that our “friends” had just ambushed us! Believe it or not, that multi-billion dollar company used to endorse this kind of approach and, along their way to building an empire, a lot of folks got used, hurt, or at the very least, quite turned off to what otherwise may have been an attractive business opportunity for many of them.
This and a host of other practices gave multi-level marketing such a bad name, they had to change the name to “network marketing”. Same guts. Different skin. It gets worse, though. You see, it spread gangbusters through the church and suddenly all the folks in network marketing were seeing all the folks who weren’t in it as prime prospects for their network. Hospitality began to abound, but with an agenda—to proselytize for their new found faith. It was faith in a product that inevitably helped folks lose weight, or cure cancer, reverse diabetes, regrow their teeth, or all of the above, and make them a fortune in the process. You know what they say about sounding to good to be true—it probably is!
It’s not that network marketing is inherently evil, nor is it true that all products sold that way are somehow inferior. There are many excellent products that are available only through network marketing and have no equal on the supermarket counters. There are also many ethical network marketing companies. It often comes down to the folks who get in the business and the reason they got in it in the first place. If you sell them on the idea of great riches with little or modest effort, you will attract many, but keep very, very few because it simply isn’t true. The folks who have made it in the network marketing business have worked hard to get their network to where it could support them well. For every success story in network marketing, there are multiplied thousands who fell far short of the dream they were sold.
Network marketing opportunities, then, are not for everyone. When you appeal to people with greed, or get-rich-quick, or get-rich-real-easy schemes, you recruit folks who are given to selfish ambition who, many times, are quite willing to use people to fulfill their own personal dream and thus give an otherwise good company a bad name. True network marketing is not about using people to fulfill your dreams; it’s about coming into sync with other like-minded, God-called, purpose-driven people who see God’s dream for the business and know their place in it. It’s about helping others reach their fullest potential and walking in the destiny God has for them in the context of that business opportunity.
What we often see in the Body of Christ are believers who use a single unifying factor (i. e. quick riches) and don't factor in the will, purpose, or design of God for the lives being invited into building the net. They often think that building the net is the business they are in. They have no concept of Christ's example of building relationally, and instead build by numbers. They mistakenly think the purpose of their net is to become financially independent (translation: I don't want to work—I just want to be rich). As a result, people are taken advantage of and the industry gets a bad rap! The net is a means to an end and the end needs to be in sync with the endgame the Father has in mind. Otherwise, it's just wood, hay, and stubble at best.
I suggest you examine why you are in, or why you are considering getting in on, the network marketing business. Is it merely about the economic opportunity you see? Certainly, that is an important consideration, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Paul said in Ephesians 2:10 that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. The first consideration, therefore, should be whether or not this is a good work that the Lord has prepared for you to walk in. There are a number of ways you can determine this. Certainly you should pray and wait on God for a confirmation in your spirit. If you lack inner peace about it, you should probably wait because the peace of God is to rule in your heart (Col 3:15). You should also ask yourself, what is it about your life experience that has prepared you for this work? Both Moses and David had extensive experience in dealing with stubborn, somewhat stupid creatures as shepherds and God used that experience to prepare them for shepherding His people.
You should also get the counsel of others, especially your spouse. Too many men go headlong into a business enterprise without bringing their wife along in the process. Even if it is of God to go into that business, the skid marks from your wife’s heals may cause some wear and tear on the relationship. Furthermore, make sure that the company you’re considering joining does not appeal to the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life to attract new network marketers. Doing that feeds the very things John tells us to shun because they are not of the Father (1 John 2:16).
Ask yourself who is going to benefit from the product most? It should be the end user, not the seller. When considering possible recruits, look for folks who the Father may have been preparing for such an opportunity as this. Then, ask them to consider the same criteria you did, factoring in the will and purpose of God for their life. People don’t need to feel that your only interest in them is to get them in your network so you can win a trip to Vegas! Invite them to something higher, something eternal. Invite them to an opportunity where they can truly help people with a product or service, mentor others in kingdom principles of building a business, and make a good return for an honest investment of time and effort. Let them know what to realistically expect in the first year. If you set unrealistic expectations, you may win their involvement to start, but they will wither in the heat of the day as they discover there is much more to it than meets the eye.
The key is to invite or actively solicit only those who should be part of the net God is building through you.
There are different kinds of nets depending on what you are fishing for. You don't want to weave certain strands of string (which are made for one purpose) in with other strands of string (rope) that are made for an entirely different purpose and try to build a net to catch tuna. The net will fail. Those in the net must have some higher, unifying grounds for building together such as purpose, calling, gifts, preference, etc.
To build a good net (network), there must also be some factors that disqualify folks from being a part of the net. If any old piece of string will do, the net won't accomplish anything of value. Jesus thinned out his crowds with what Dennis Peacocke calls “the Dracula Speech", in which Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. ” Many who are networking are only too willing to have any and all join the ranks because they somehow think that numbers will solve the problem. It’s never been about numbers. It’s always been about calling and it takes quality of character to choose that over so-called easy riches. Remember Gideon’s 300? They were so in tune with their destiny, it affected the way they drank water out of a brook.
God uses mightily those who are in tune with their destiny and if that destiny is in network marketing, why cheapen it and miss the mark by inviting the weak in character, the ones motivated by greed, who use people to get things instead of using things to help people? Ultimately, your choice to go into network marketing should not be an economic issue; it should be a destiny issue. And if it’s destiny based, you will attract others with similar values and a similar destiny and create a net that will catch a lot of fish and feed a lot of folks.
This article provided by ChristianBusinessDaily.com - The Online Network for Christians in Business. Your source for news, articles, and commentary from a biblical perspective.