A few years ago, I almost took on a business partner in a real estate project because it appeared to be a good fit. It wasn’t.
Of course, I knew this verse from 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Most Christians believe that verse applies primarily to Christians marrying non-Christians. It may, but the wisdom of that advice also applies to other areas of the Christian life as well.
Paul builds the imagery of his command, on this command from Deuteronomy 22:10, “you shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” What Paul and Deuteronomy 22 are concerned with here, is an imbalance in power and purpose. You can easily see the ox, due to it’s sheer strength and size would overpower the weaker animal, resulting in wandering furrows and a frustrated farmer. It's not the fault of the ox, it's just its nature and strength.
Back to my potential investor. He was going to have control of the project and given his experience, and my lack of interest in the operation, that made sense. But even before we had drawn up the partnership agreement, it was obvious to me, he did not have my best interests in mind by the way he continually pressed for his advantage. Alarm bells began to go off. (For me that’s generally the Holy Spirit!) So, I cancelled our agreement and his fury over my doing so, confirmed everything I was feeling.
The Bible isn’t terribly clear about how to assess these relationships, but this much is; At the very least, when a Christian puts themselves in a position to be controlled by a non-Christian, that is incredibly unwise. I think that idea applies to any enterprise, from politics, to families. I don't think that means you can't have a non-Christian minority partner, or investment advisor, because you are still in control. In that case, you are the "ox." However, that still is no assurance your furrows will be straight. They still might have advice for you that makes sense business-wise, but may lead you in a direction you might never have chosen with godly counsel.
That doesn’t mean all Christians can be trusted either. I’ve had “good Christians” try to take advantage of me. Decades ago I had a business partner who was an elder in a good church and on several ministry boards, who I found out later had absolutely no qualms about suing even Christians to get paid. We parted ways, because whenever you are in a partnership, whether you mean it or not, your reputation is tied to your partners.
Today with the internet, some of that kind of information is now available and should be used as you think about partners.The litmus test for me now, for assessing Christian partners isn't what church they attend, or local Christian ministries they support, but do they have a reputation for their godliness and integrity? When you're with them, do they talk about Jesus, like he's their friend, or talk about church likes it's their club?
So, as I thought about another partner, I prayed for Holy Spirit wisdom and God gave me the name of a Christian man with a great reputation. We completed the transaction and recently sold the project profitably. This man, to whom I was equally yoked, behaved with incredible integrity. Not once did I have to question his decisions, nor he mine.
It made me sad to think, that I teach this stuff, yet I was tempted to take on a partner who did not share my values, just because he was successful and could write the big check. Fortunately, God has given me a godly attorney and CPA to help sound the alarm when I was being naïve and ignoring the Holy Spirit's warnings.
So gather around you men or women with a reputation for loving God and others, more than themselves, or you may just end up the donkey.
“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” Proverbs 19:20