Twenty years ago I had a quadruple heart bypass. Ten years ago I was told by a cardiac consultant to stop drinking alcohol and lose 30kgs. In the same year 2006, I came up with an idea for a book and a new business.
If you take a look at the About pages you can find out a bit more about my background, but in a nutshell, I've been self-employed since 1987 in the business to business arena.
Fast forward to 2016. Looking back over the past ten years, so what's happened. Well, in 2009 I became a Christian and I changed my focus from selling technology to marketing and all the associated technologies and software.
Interspersed with writing a book, I worked as a marketing consultant and developed a business idea to help businesses generate more new business. It wasn't without it's naysayers either, and not friends or family, it was people within the Church who challenged it!
In 2011, I listened to a sermon and at the same time God told me to put the business project down, not dismiss it, but to be obedient and put it down, and wait, He told me to get a job too. Bearing in mind I hadn't worked for anyone since 1987, so getting a job was seriously 'left-field'.
Even then, I was challenged by a senior 'Church' person who asked if this decision was actually "for God or of God?" At the time all this did was confuse me as to how I was supposed to be feeling or reacting.
I got the first job within a few weeks. After witnessing to everyone and giving away a Bible, we parted company after nine months.
I thought that was short-lived. So believed I had to distribute my CV again. God told me not to! He instructed me to write up my perfect job and pray about it - i.e. petition and prayer!
I had my list already written in my head as you would expect; salary, autonomy, latest technology and equipment, large budget, travel and also for my son to work with me too. After typing it up, I asked my home prayer group to pray with me (who thought I was slightly mad!).
With so many situations to do with faith, we tend to forget very easily. The day after praying I got a telephone call from a head-hunter and by the following Friday got the job.
I was in Germany in my second week, had all the latest Apple equipment on my desk when I returned and by week three my son was working with me.
Again, I witnessed to everyone and also sent a Bible and some of my most influential books to a guy, one of the staff members knew, who was in prison in Cuba (which was later confirmed as a false charge), is it a coincidence he was released from prison without charge?
However, after six months my time was up and I moved on! I was perplexed. Surely, I would stay doing the same. Nevertheless the 'high-paying-gig' was over! I did however get an email from the CEO, who previously told me to my face he didn't trust what I was advocating, telling me how amazing he thought I was after a £3m deal came in after ten weeks! Surely another coincidence!!
I then restarted the 'business idea' again but wasn't quite sure if I should be doing so. I still had this nagging sentence in my head "For God or of God?" also, did God want me working in another business or for myself?
I also felt compelled to write for and develop The Standard Christian Ministry for Business and so became a voracious reader of Christian books and commentaries. I also did a Bible study and kept a journal every day for a year. During this time I realised how and when God spoke to me. Picking up the Bible was like picking up the telephone. I read it and He spoke to me. It was/is a wonderful experience.
But I still didn't know what I should be doing. Do I work with a company or for myself? Do I grow the business idea I had back in 2006 or not? I'm not one for sitting around and doing nothing so I completed the business plan and financial information and kept praying.
I occasionally sent out CVs but I didn't feel convinced that was the way to go, especially as He told me to write up or petition for my previous job and everything changed in a week. So what was going on.
I also realised that I was not learning from Church and understood the importance of the way we lived and not just who we hung out with on a Sunday. The more I read, the more I got to know God.
My wife and I attended an event in Westminster, listening to Carlos Annacondia, an Argentinian evangelist. Both Liz and I had an amazing encounter and Liz saw a vision which she believed looked like Jesus! After the event, we walked up Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square and was stopped by a small group of Yazidis protesting about the genocide in Iraq, outside 10 Downing Street. We talked a while and as we got outside The National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, realised how many Muslim men were attempting to evangelise to passers-by.
I said to Liz that I felt at a disadvantage because I couldn't have a discussion or argue against Islam based upon my faith in Jesus and especially as no one have ever discussed to taught about the dangers of Islam in church.
Within days I was contacted by a group on Facebook and invited to join a group in Holland that helped explain and expose Islam. Evidently God knew that this was the right time for me to continue learning.
A few weeks later a reader of The Standard sent me an email about a series of videos called 'The Fuel Project' which became the most influential series of videos I have ever watched. The seventy plus videos helped me understand my faith from a historical perspective and how different factions are trying to influence our lives.
This was all great teaching and training, but what did it have to do with business?
As time passed, I completed the business book and published it on Amazon Kindle. I also typed up my handwritten notes form my 365 days of Bible study journaling.
I had completed the business website (for the new project) and was doing marketing consultancy off and on in between 'God's Projects'.
Now you might be thinking "so what's his problem, everything seems to be ticking along". Well, the whole time I had been wondering, "Am I doing the right thing?" Having sold millions of pounds worth of technology in the past and now I seem to be doing work that isn't paying. Not that I mind working for God, but a little encouragement wouldn't go amiss. A text, an email an appraisal, even some cash!
I'm the type of person who wants to have all his 'duck's in a row'. I want to have everything in order and especially as church and many Christians use the term 'wait on the Lord'. To me that just seemed like an excuse to sit around and do nothing.
But still nothing…
I was constantly questioning what I should be doing for God. Should I go and preach in another country, do out-reach work in the back-of-beyond. The Standard was being read across the world and I was getting some great feedback but it didn't pay the bills.
As my wife and I pondered different situations to do with business, we were both praying independently for God to reveal what it is we're supposed to be doing, should I be investing more time in the new business idea or should I just get a marketing contract and get on with it?
By 2016 and having read over 100 books relating to faith and having read the Bible a few times and countless online articles and videos, I now know that the enemy will come against us in many ways and using different people, even if they don't recognise it themselves.
"So, you want to know what's happening and you want to know if you're on the right track do you? Are you blind? Do I really have to spell it out to you?
And you want me to give you a sign!!!! Seriously. If you're asking now and you're just getting it, can you imagine if I explained all this at the beginning, you'd never have done a fraction of it. "
I watched a program a little while ago which aimed to help young people decide if they were "on the right track". The speaker said an individual would know if they were on the right track if...:
• You would work for free
• If people believed in you or would follow you
• If you got agitated about a subject and would spring in to action
• If this work or activity is always on your mind
• When you're working, it seems like a hobby
Ah! But there's a problem, I can do a lot of things and equally enjoy them. So this seems to make things even more difficult.
Whilst praying and discussing faith recently, I was still struggling why the Christian faith seemed so complicated. There were not loads of rules, unless you're a Catholic. There was salvation, eternal life etc., etc. So what was the big problem?
I certainly don't want to trivialise the Christian faith, but the Church has a habit of attempting to explain faith in Jesus as if it were some magical process that we could all rescind personal responsibility and Jesus will simply pitch up and take care of everything. Wrong.
There are four things which are consistent in the Bible;
We cannot pray and ask for someone else to be changed or force them to do something. How would we feel is someone was praying for us to change and God did as they requested against our will?
When it comes to finances, how we behave with money affects our future, which is why we are to help those around us, financially. There's more to this statement and it relates to how the early Christians behaved as described in the Book of Acts 4:32. But the key here is that Jesus wants us to experience His peace that transcends all understanding - and don't I know it. The point is, when we have genuine peace, we understand that it's not about the money or anything material.
The peace is about knowing He loves us and we're going to be with him in the end. Down here on the earth, we're expected to work. There are no bolts of lightning and suitcases full of money. We're to enjoy our work. If we don't, we are to ask for wisdom to move on.
God expects us to ask for wisdom, to help us to become productive. He will bless the work of our hands (Deuteronomy 28:12) and we are expected to become successful and in turn we can help those directly connected to us in our families, cell groups, house church or life groups, i.e. those who believe as we do. It does not preclude us giving to charities or other causes, but I believe we are to help those closest to us first.
So when it comes to knowing what to do. Now I know! Ask for wisdom and simply go for it. God will place His desires on our hearts and then enable us to achieve them:
Psalm 37:4 - Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your hearts desires
Philippians 2:13 - For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him
We, as Christians, are supposed to be here on this planet, living successful lives and victorious over the enemy. We're expected to work and as I mentioned earlier, God says He blesses the work of our hands (Deuteronomy 2:7, 15:10, 28:12, Psalm 90:17) and we're expected to have great relationships - and guess what, there's a book that guides us along the way. However because the book uses allegories and parables, not everyone understands it from the start. It takes time and commitment.
Satan attempts to seduce everyone with money etc., however, we have to get the seduction out of our minds and be aware that we are expected to be able to acquire it, not just for our benefit, but also for the benefit of helping others. Satan offered Jesus all He could see, as far as the horizon. In simple terms, satan offered Jesus financial reward for submitting to satan. Now I see how deceptive the prosperity teachers are who say that we are to give so that we receive. We're not to make a profit out of God for how we live, however satan surely would want to 'profit us' by following this prosperity doctrine.
I now see that everything is For God and everything is Of God. The earth may be satans domain, but we have been given the power and authority to step on snakes and scorpions and cast out demons. I know I am a baptised, blood-bought child of God and I'm certainly no longer confused by Christians trying some Christianese on me in an attempt to make me question what I'm doing. If I'd listened to them, I'd have stayed where I was - just another baby Christian hanging on to someone else's words. I should have said "get thee behind me satan!" perhaps that would have shut them up and stopped them saying something like that again in the future!
So take courage, fight the good fight. Discover this faith for yourself and get connected with God for all the right reasons and Just Do It.
To finish, I was having a drink with a friend and was talking about the fact I had been trying to raise finance for the business project. I said I had started businesses before without investment or money in the bank and that I knew we had to have readily available cash before the new project could start.
In an instant, God spoke to me and said, "Don't you get it? All those times in the past when you started the previous businesses without money, I was training you for such a time as this. You don't need anyone's money - how would it look if after all this time, someone invested in your business. I wouldn't get the glory! So carry on with what you're doing and just launch it, you don't need money to get it started."
I was speechless - the lightbulb went on. Everything changed after that moment, I started thinking about my new project as I should. A new business that was almost ready and that was not going to be subject to the world and its money.
This meant no one could have a call no our business and we could certainly state that God was at the centre of our business, that in time we would lend to many nations but borrow from none (Deuteronomy 15:6, 28:12)! What a release.
We have now launched salesXchange, which we believe will radically change how businesses generate new business and at the same time give me a platform to share my testimony and faith with business owners around the world (to date, www.thestandard.org.uk has been read by over 30,000 people in 166 different countries).
And another thing, having begun the marketing for salesXchange, I realised that we would need to start with only a few customers, but we needed at least some money in the bank. God then told me to market "me" (as a marketing consultant) and not salesXchange. I acted immediately. And on Friday 25th November 2016 I sent out a small emailshot to some local businesses.
Within an hour I had a telephone call. Not only was this business in my preferred industry, i.e. telecoms, but the office was walking distance from my house, less than ten minutes away. We met the following week and to my surprise, they wanted someone like me to take care of all their marketing and technology infrastructure. I got the deal. To make matters even sweeter, he told me he was cool with me working from home too.
So think about this. I prayed for wisdom. God responded. I acted, the customer responded. He said yes and the job ended up being more than perfect - because God knows best. It's time we all started to accept the fact that when God is involved, i.e. when we ask for wisdom and act, He will always guide us, so we can stop believing in coincidences!
If you know someone who is questioning faith in Jesus or is struggling as a Christian, share this article with them or get them to take a look at this website.
All the best…Nigel