Living a life of righteousness in the Marketplace is a challenge for most every child of God; and particularly so for those that God has placed in positions of leadership. In my last post, we learned that our enemy, the world, is run on systems that are increasingly used to shut out the Christian worldview and ministry. I hope that the suggestions you’ve read so far have encouraged you to greater dependency on God, His word, and the community of believers in your Marketplace arena.

Regrettably, the world is not the only enemy of God and His children. Satan and our flesh are allied with it to deter Christian leaders from their purpose in the Marketplace. Two of their greatest weapons are deception and oppression. It is oppression – created and supported by deception – that keeps the Marketplace Leader from walking out on “Faith’s Edge”, fearful of crossing the “World’s Boundary”.

To illustrate, I offer my own story. Yours will be different in some respects. My prayer is that the Lord will use my story to make you more aware of our enemies’ tactics, and God’s counter measures for righteousness. I hope you will learn from my mistakes.

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.     Revelation 12:9

Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them…     Deuteronomy 11:16

Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me.     Psalm 55:1-3

He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in His sight.     Psalm 72:14

Before I begin, let me be clear about this: While we are all victims of Satan’s deception and oppression, we must come to terms with our collusion in his activities. For example, many times we invite and embrace deception because it helps in the pursuit of our own agendas. Similarly, we submit to oppression out of the fear that to do otherwise would jeopardize our ambitions. Do not be deceived, Satan knows how to use our flesh to deceive and oppress us – particularly in the Marketplace.

My Story

I began my career in the technology services company for a major Southeastern bank. Like most, I started somewhere near the bottom, with dreams of climbing to the top. With good mentors, success came quickly; and with it, pride and arrogance (i.e., flesh). As I discovered later, somewhere in the back of my mind I was certain that God wasn’t really interested in the work portion of my life. Someone (aka, Satan) was whispering in my head.

Eventually, I was promoted to a senior management position. Blinded by my success, I burned an important bridge in the process. A few months later, a restructuring found me back under the mentor I had burned. I was determined to maintain my independence and he was as determined to show me who was boss. What ensued was the most stressful time of my life. Panic attacks in the shower. Dread before every meeting. Through it all, God was orchestrating events to transform my life.

The turning point came in a Bible study. I can still remember the feeling I had walking down the hall. It felt like I was wading through wet cement with a hundred extra pounds on my back.

When I arrived, one person was waiting – Bobby. After patiently listening to my complaints, he said, “Oh, so you’ve got that pride thing going.” Well, that went right over my head. I didn’t know how to respond. That was okay because about that time another brother in the Lord walked in – Mike.

Poor Mike asked the wrong question, “Rob, how are you doing?” But I told him anyway. His response was like a 2×4 to the back of my head, “Oh, so you’ve got that pride thing going.” Needless to say, the rest of that day was a blur. In fact, I’m not sure exactly when the things started coming back into focus; but, when it did, I was a free man. Free from a lot of pride, arrogance and Satan’s hold on me in that area. Anyone that has had their pride uprooted knows how painful it can be – and I had a lot of it. But it was worth the pain; just not the end of the story.

Soon after, my boss put me on probation for sharing my faith with the people that worked for me. More stress! But this time I found a peace, and God delivered me from the situation. However – and I did not recognize this until years later – the threat to my position and livelihood had introduced a new stronghold – oppression.

Once outspoken about my faith, I stopped talking about it outside of our Bible study – which I soon stopped attending. Subconsciously, I was threatened and afraid. Consciously… well, I just wasn’t aware of the trap Satan had me in. While I had given the work piece of my life over to the Lord, I was not yet completely free. The freedom eventually came, but not for much too long a time.

Looking back, the only thing that would have helped would have been a strong spiritual mentor – someone gifted to discern the oppression I was living under. Why did God leave me in that place for so long? He works all things to the good…, so I know He has a purpose in it. Perhaps it is so I can encourage with the following:

  1. Know your enemies – Satan, the world, and your flesh (the old man).
  2. Fight for your freedom – Be strong in the Lord and in the power (authority) of His might. Put on the full armor of God EVERY DAY.
  3. Find your spiritual platoon in the Marketplace – Continue steadfastly with them in Bible study, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers.
  4. Fear God, not men.

May God bless you with courage and grace for the days ahead.

Your servant and His,