The Best Biblical Business Advice I Have Ever Received

The Best Biblical Business Advice I Have Ever Received

Bartering is good. Free is irresponsible.

~ Robin Caldwell,

Ten years ago, I began working myself full-time, accidentally. It was never my desire to be self-employed, no; I’d grown up with a work ethic that dictated retirement from some company and a pension. That wasn’t God’s plan for me after all.

About seven years ago, I was sitting in my makeshift office at a local Starbucks thinking about a lot of things regarding profit and loss and loss and profit. Three incredible things happened that I now count as divine encounters.

The first began with an observation I made about the patrons of that particular Starbucks. In the mornings, a group of businessmen would meet with two rabbis. The men would hash over scripture and then discuss business. I’d listen and contribute silently to their conversations in my head, especially when it came to the Torah (first 5 books of the Old Testament). I found it fascinating that they were so detailed and passionate about their studies. I also found it interesting that those businessmen made a concerted effort to keep their spiritual life first.

The second encounter was with my then pastor, a young businessman who had an incredible acumen and a heart to help others make money. He would share information freely with me as well as answer my questions, which I appreciated.

The third and most potent of the three encounters involved me reaching out to a renowned business ethicist who happens to be a rabbi. He was kind, patient and exceptionally generous in answering my questions involving spiritual business practices.

Between the three encounters I gleaned a lot of advice. Some of the advice I received has been passed on to a lot of people, because it was that powerful and life-changing. So it is with pleasure that I share a few pieces of advice that have served me well. If you have questions, you’re welcome to leave questions in the comment section.

(1) It is irresponsible to work for free. The service you give away without compensation will most likely help someone else make money but it will not keep the roof over your head. Charity work is different. It is to be performed for people with NO ability to repay. Bartering is good. Free is irresponsible.

(2) Stop looking at the cents side of the decimal point. Instead, focus on the other side where the dollar amount goes. The cent side causes fear and the dollar side inspires and motivates.

(3) Be firm about your worth and value in dollars with men who may want the hookup or free services. Men who have blessed women at work in Scripture (Genesis to Revelation) will be blessed. Men who seek to exploit a woman working for herself or for him by paying low and no wages, will not be blessed. They are not honorable.

These three pieces of advice have spared me heartache and preserved my dignity on many occasions. If you comb the fine print of the Bible, you will find the wisdom in each one of those gems.

Robin Caldwell,


There are 15 comments for this article
  1. rhondamcknight at 5:33 pm

    Thank you, Robin. I’ve held fast to keeping my business hat on and not giving things away for free, especially my time. I think some of our sisters and brothers in Christ think they should get the “hook up” because we’re both Christians, right? I’ve resolved that if I don’t hear God say give it away, I will not.

  2. Sarah Keeva at 3:11 pm

    Wow. Having a business that is geared to believers, sometimes feels like more of a percentage of ministry then business which pulls on my compassion strings and so it can be difficult when having to discuss rates and fees, but I must do better. Charitable acts are different than business transactions.
    I will do better .. thank you for this .

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