If We Don’t, Who Will?

July 8, 2024

Kingdom entrepreneurs should produce Kingdom entrepreneurs just like Kingdom disciples should produce Kingdom disciples. If we DON’T, who WILL? 

I am a co-vocational leader and have worked in education for 30 years. Even before I understood my gifting as an apostolic leader, I always used it to empower others, lead projects, and produce things from conception to reality. I now do it within and for the Kingdom. 

I recently hosted an event in my city called the Young Entrepreneurs (19 and under) Summit. The YES Summit for short. This was sponsored by the Small Business Center at Davidson-Davie Community College (where I am the Director) along with NC IDEA. The Purpose of the YES Summit is to empower young entrepreneurs and connect them to established entrepreneurs. The goal was to get every high school in Davidson and Davie Counties in North Carolina to send one to two students from their schools to this day-long event. It was held April 16, 2024 and was a tremendous hit. I called it low-key discipleship! The day went like this:

We started at 8 a.m. with check in and head shots for participants. We then welcomed everyone at 9 a.m. with words from our college president and local chamber president. After announcements and the agenda for the day were explained, we convened over the next three hours and poured into the students with speakers. We had a speaker discuss the lures of social media. Another discussed choosing and leading your team. Another speaker spoke on how to finance your business. Our final speaker taught on life lessons and how to excel in business and in life. These sessions were so life giving and each student was engaged and learned so much. We fed them lunch while still pouring into them. Then in the afternoon, we had almost 30 business leaders meet the 17 students, exchange business cards, then listen to each of the student’s business pitches. We gave away cash prizes at the end. All in all, it was a most fulfilling day. The next day we were in the local paper and here were a few comments from participants:

I honestly had a really good time today. I could have walked out of here with zero dollars. I made a lot of friends, tasted some pretty good food, and I met some pretty cool people. Overall, if this thing goes away, it will be one of the greatest what-ifs in Thomasville history… as a student, you absolutely need to do this (the YES Summit). It would be one of the biggest mistakes of your high school career not to do this (1st place winner).

Honestly, even if you don’t win, it’s amazing because you get to learn so much from so many different people. It’s an amazing opportunity for anybody who’s interested whether you have an idea or whether you already have a business (young entrepreneur).

As soon as I got here, I just felt so welcomed and at home. I am very happy to be here (2nd place winner).

If you all really do care about the next generation, the people living in your communities, and serving your communities, let’s try to find some funds to keep this going. This is so, so important (NC Department of Commerce representative).

Do we care about the next generation? There are entrepreneurs who are church planters, business leaders, sports icons, etc. Apprenticeship and mentorship are biblical. We cannot run from it. Jesus and the 12 apostles is the greatest example of apprenticeship that we have. They walked together, talked together, ate together, spent time on the road together. In order to empower, catalyze, and invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs, we must become better apprentices in every mountain of society. We are needed in education, the church, business, government, family, media, and sports and entertainment. The same goes with mentorship. Apprenticeship and mentorship can go hand-in-hand when it comes to entrepreneurship. They both can occur at the same time. Proverbs gives us many examples of following our elders and parents for wisdom (i.e. Proverbs 1.8-9; 2; and 31). Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27.17). Older women mentor/disciple younger women (Titus 2.3-5), and the list goes on and on. 

My friend Dave Buehring excels at this. He hosts what he calls the Leadership Games. He matches 20-30 somethings with 40-70 somethings within the same profession for mentorship and discipleship/apprenticeship. Think for a moment if you had someone when you were in your 20s or 30s who was in your profession and could mentor you in the things of God and in the things of your profession. How priceless would that have been? 

I began this article with a question. I would like to ask it in a different way. What will you do to invest and mobilize the next generation of Kingdom entrepreneurs? Whether you are a pastor or janitor, your influence in this world should be impactful and benefit others. When I planned the YES Summit, I needed to talk with many people. I spoke with small business leaders, superintendents, teachers, principals, pastors, and many others. It was a true team effort to get this done. Shout out to one of my district pastor leaders who I sent an email to in order to get his local school involved. You know who you are. This great man contacted one person and the next day we received two names from the school. All it takes is one. Will you be the one? 

If we DON’T, who WILL? The world will! The world will creep in and snatch the next generation up and won’t spit them out. The world will show them it is OK to look for the good without God or to give in to worldly pleasures, to treat others wrong, and to love money over everything else. The world will control the next generation if Christians and God’s church won’t step up. It is time! 

As Kingdom leaders and entrepreneurs, we need to engage all stakeholders to invest in and mobilize the next generation. We need to come together and strategize to determine how to connect whether in the church or outside of it. Young people are hungry for mentors and for people to show up in their lives who truly care about them. Let’s make that difference. Will you be the one? If you are interested in talking further, please contact me because I am one, but I need other ones!

Dr. Dee Stokes

Dr. Dee Stokes

Dr. Dee Stokes is an entrepreneurial minister, educator, consultant, author, and podcaster. With 30 years of experience in education, Dr. Stokes understands what it means to be co-vocational and serve God in the church and in the marketplace. She has worked at every level of education: Pre-K through 8th grade principal, high school Bible teacher, seminary director, community college director, and most of her experience has been in 4-year public and private universities as a basketball coach, professor, and dissertation committee member. She has also served as a senior pastor, formation and connections pastor, and teaching pastor. She has a passion for God and his church and to see people walk in divine destiny. Her degrees are in Sociology (BA from UNC Charlotte), Public Administration (MPA from Devry University), Biblical and Theological Foundations (MBTF from Asbury Theological Seminary), and Educational Leadership (Ed.S. & Ed.D. from Liberty University). Dr. Stokes' research interests include cultural intelligence, emotional intelligence, burnout, transformational leadership, unconscious bias, and spousal responsibility.
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