Building a Strong Professional Identity
    About Lesson

    Here is a recap of the video in text form

    Over the past 20 years of living in the Arab world, I have observed a number of different business as mission models. In this lesson, I have tried to give a short overview of each of the models including their potential “pros” and “cons”. The 6 models that I would like to focus on during this article are:

    • Visitor / Tourist
    • Pretend Business
    • Breakeven Business
    • Local Level Business
    • Foreign Level Business (Without employees)
    • Foreign Level Business (With employees)

    In no way am I trying to say that one model is better than another. I have my personal opinion, but I believe that the Lord can use each model for the advancement of his Kingdom. I have seen each of these models used “successfully” by godly men & women.

    The purpose for this article is to try to clearly layout each model (side by side) so that you can ask the Lord which one is best for you. I am sure you may identify other potential “pros” and “cons” for these models. Drop me an email if you have seen or experienced another advantage or disadvantage from one of the models listed below.

    Note: I have focused on the models related to starting a business. One could also use some of these other models for their professional identity.

    • Student
    • Taking a job
    • Retired
    • NGO / Humanitarian
    • Clergy / International Pastor

    Let’s take a closer look at each of the models and their potential “pros” & “cons”.

    Visitor / Tourist

    This person makes no effort to establish a professional identity. They freely come and go on tourist visas.

    Pros

    • Open schedule for discipleship
    • No business related pressure
    • No capital investment required

    Cons

    • Lack of structure may lead to laziness
    • Suspicion from the host culture
    • Reduced identification with local community
    • Continual tourist visas may be denied
    • Potential legal issues regarding renting, buying cars etc.
    • Poor model for local body

    Pretend Business

    This person tells the host culture that they are there to do business, however they do not actually try to operate a true business. They may register a company, have an office and even run donated money through the company but there is no effort to do business.

    Pros

    • Open schedule for discipleship
    • Minimal business related pressure
    • Minimal capital investment required
    • Answer for surface-level questions

    Cons

    • Lack of structure may lead to laziness
    • Suspicion by those observing business habits
    • Limited identification with local community
    • Continual investment to keep fake business functioning
    • Lack of ethical uprightness
    • Poor model for local body

    Breakeven Business

    This person establishes a business with the desire to cover basic local operating costs excluding labor. No salaries are paid. This business does not require ongoing investment from the owners but the owner receives no benefit in the form of salary or dividend.

    Pros

    • Business network and discipleship opportunities
    • Limited business pressure – just breaking even
    • Limited revenue required to sustain business
    • Visible identity
    • Growing identification with local community life

    Cons

    • Temptation to give minimal effort
    • Suspicion by local accountant and those who know business volume.
    • Impossible to cover replacement labor costs in unanticipated absences
    • Poor model for local body

    Local Level Business

    This person establishes a business with the desire to cover all local operating costs including all labor. All salaries are paid at an appropriate host culture level. The business owner receives a monthly local salary and potentially some profit.

    Pros

    • Increased business network and discipleship opportunities during and after work
    • Available local salary
    • Clear visible identity
    • Identification with local community life
    • Good model for local body

    Cons

    • Minimal suspicion by local accountant and those who know your salary
    • Increased potential for business related pressure
    • Potential capital investment required

    Foreign Level Business (No local employees)

    This person establishes a business with the desire to cover all costs including average market value salaries of foreign owners. This business does not have any local employees.

    Pros

    • Strong business network and discipleship opportunities during and after work
    • No dependency on donated funds
    • Clear visible identity
    • Identification with local community life
    • Strong model for local body

    Cons

    • Increased potential for business related pressure
    • Potential dependency on business salary
    • Larger capital investment required

    Foreign Level Business (With local employees)

    This person establishes a business with the desire to cover all costs including average market value salaries of foreign owners. It also hires local employees with appropriate local level salaries.

    Pros

    • Strong business network and discipleship opportunities during and after work
    • Life on life with employees
    • No dependency on donated funds
    • Clear visible identity
    • Identification with local community life
    • Excellent model for local body

    Cons

    • Increased potential for business related pressure
    • Potential dependency on business salary
    • Potential for conflict among employees
    • People’s lives depend on you if you leave or fail
    • Larger capital investment required
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