At one time I worked with an organization that advised start-up technology entrepreneurs. These brilliant people developed technology, and processes that changed the way we live and do business. They had spent countless hours and sometimes years developing the technology or process and now they were ready to find investors, hire key personnel, and start their sales and marketing activities. I would tell them that all these things are great but before you spend a lot of time on these things make a decision on your exit strategy.
I would often put it in these terms “begin with the end in mind”. Did they see themselves running their company twenty years from now, or were they interested in moving on after a few years? “Were they interested in making a lot of money, or just running a solid and steadily growing family business”? Strategies could range from just shutting the business down, a merger, a sale, or an Initial Public Offering (IPO). They could choose any exit strategy but to be successful they needed one. Those entrepreneurs needed an exit strategy because that was what determined the way the company directed the use of its limited resources, developed its focus, and achieved its potential.
A business exit strategy is an entrepreneur’s strategic plan to sell his or her investment in a company he or she founded. An exit strategy gives a business owner a way to reduce or eliminate his or her stake in the business and, if the business is successful, make a substantial profit. If the business is not successful, an exit strategy enables the entrepreneur to limit losses.
Just as you need a plan to get into business, you need a plan to get out of it. Selling or otherwise disposing of a business requires some forethought, strategizing and careful implementation. In some ways, it's a little more complicated than starting a business.
In the same way that an entrepreneur needs a way to exit his or her business all of us need an exit strategy to determine our eternity. Unless Jesus returns before we die all human beings will come to a point in time when this physical life ends. That end is the exit.
I read something a few days ago, written by Randy Frazee the author of “What Happens After You Die” that encourages both Christians and unbelievers to have an exit strategy because your eternity depends on it.
Having an Exit Strategy
by Randy Frazee, author of What Happens After You Die
My first experience with water skiing came at the age of twenty-four. I was quietly anxious about the adventure. All of my focus was on getting up on those skis. The first attempt was over before it began. One tug from the motorboat, and the rope left my hands and took off without me. On the second try, I got up for a brief second before I face-planted and a rush of brown lake water was sent up my nose. On the third attempt I kept the tension just right to bring my body out of the water. As my body fully emerged, I leaned back just a bit and found the slot. I did it! I was water skiing. A smile overtook my entire face. I had accomplished the goal! Check.
Then it dawned on me. I had spent all my energy and focus on my entrance strategy and had invested zero time considering my exit strategy. I had no idea how to end this experience. Fear overtook me. Thoughts of my falling body skipping across the water like a smooth stone came to mind. Thoughts of my legs rising above my head as I made contact with the concrete water below elevated my blood pressure.
So, I held on for dear life as the boat continued circling the small lake. The guys on the boat began to yell out something to me, but I couldn’t quite make it out. By this time my hands and legs were cramping. How was this going to end? It had to end. I couldn’t hold on forever. I yelled for the guys to speak louder.
They screamed at the top of their lungs, “Let go of the rope!”
Let go of the rope? They must be insane. What happens to a body that just lets go of the rope and gives up? I didn’t know, because I had never experienced it before. So, I doubled down on my grip and kept skiing, completely unsure of how it was all eventually going to end.
Life is so often like my water-skiing adventure. We use all of our energy getting up and staying up but don’t have an exit strategy. We know we can’t continue the ride forever in this body — it will eventually give out — but, because we don’t know how the ride ends and fear it will hurt, we hold on for dear life.
Woody Allen said, “I don’t mind dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Boy, can I relate!
What is the exit strategy for the Christian? If I said “yes” to Christ in this life, what happens to me when I die, when I let go of the rope?
The Bible has so much to say about this that will calm your nerves, loosen your death grip on life and give you hope. Consider the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthian believers -
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1 (GW)16 That is why we are not discouraged. Though outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day.17 Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine.18 We don't look for things that can be seen but for things that can't be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can't be seen last forever. 1 We know that if the life we live here on earth is ever taken down like a tent, we still have a building from God. It is an eternal house in heaven that isn't made by human hands.
Daily our bodies are wasting away. Can I get an “amen”? This is just a fact of life. But as we grow in Christ, Paul says, our spirits can actually get stronger. The second-best for overcoming the effects of aging is diet and exercise. The first-best strategy is spiritual growth, getting healthy on the inside.
We should do everything we can to take care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but eventually, time takes its toll. I am working hard to slow the process down, but I cannot stop it. I’m not only getting older, but I am getting shorter. Somewhere between high school and now, I have lost an inch off my height. Yikes.
Death will eventually win over these perishable bodies we inherited from Adam, but as we grow spiritually and get to know God better, we will see he has a plan for us. His plan trumps all the pain and even physical death we experience in this life. It’s a plan where love wins and we live forever. On the day of Christ’s return we will receive a new body, a resurrected body that is imperishable. When we fix our eyes on this promise it makes the temporary troubles we have in life now seem puny in comparison. Because no matter how awful our circumstances become, we know this is not how our story ends. We will receive relief from our grief one day. The believer in Jesus can cope with this hope.
That summer day when I was water skiing so many years ago, I finally did it. I let go of the ski rope. What happened? My body slowly sank into the water. The life jacket kept me afloat as the boat circled around to pick me up. Everything was fine. And the next time out I not only had an entrance strategy but an exit strategy.
Death, the Bible tells us, is a valley experience. But at some point in the valley, Jesus will meet us there and take us the rest of the way (see Psalm 23:4). Death is a sting. But, the sting is only temporary. Once it wears off and is over, you are left with eternity in the presence of God. Whenever it is time for you to let go of the rope of life, you will discover that everything will be just fine. No, not fine…better than ever.
Original blog by Randy Frazee for Devotionals Daily featuring his new book What Happens After You Die, copyright Randy Frazee.
What’s your exit strategy?
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.