I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur.

Yet God has walked alongside me as I gained experience and explored my gifting. And over the years, God has taught me some of the most valuable lessons through the lens of being a small business owner.

The Kingdom Is Bigger Than I Thought.

When we started renovating our very first studio space for my massage therapy and skincare business, I remember feeling humbled.

My husband and I had just lost our firstborn to a genetic brain malformation. And I felt my passion and drive for my business of two years waning. Yet the idea of doing something with my hands — and having a goal to work toward — enabled me to sign the lease.

We invited our family and friends to join us on workdays. Together, we painted, designed, and built special pieces to make the space come alive.

Although I felt empty as I mourned my daughter, God gently reminded me of his love through the quiet workers who surrounded us: Those who paid for pizza on those long workdays. The friends from church who sent flowers to my business on opening day.

In our suffering, God used people to encourage me in my gifting and business. A beautiful picture of the Body of Christ working to serve and heal.

Be Obedient in the Small Things, and Be OK with Whatever the Outcome.

As my business grows, I work on keeping things to code. And I have often felt like I am the only one in my industry who has chosen not to cut corners.

Even one of my inspectors a few years ago leaned in one day and shared with me ways to “get away” with certain things. God calls us to a life of integrity. This means sometimes being the black sheep.

At one point, I remember acknowledging I may never make a profit based on following all the industry codes. But in that same moment, I felt peace.

It was in the raw moment of honesty with myself that I found the strength of my faith.

It was also then that the fears of what the world thinks faded away.

Thankfully, we were able to operate in the black (profit) within the first few years of business, proving that it is indeed possible to ethically do business in our industry.

Here I Am. Trust God With All of Who You Are.

I’ve had hundreds of massage clients over the years.

And I have counted it a privilege to work on each one of them. It is one of the most tangible ways I have experienced God through my work.

When a client comes into our business, they are essentially saying, “Here I am.” They fill out a health history form that communicates, “Here is more of who I am, and the context of why I am here.”

Then it is my job to explain, ask questions, and come up with a plan to best meet my clients’ goals for the session.

People have come to me who are grieving, in emotional or physical pain. Others need time away from their kids. Some receive a massage as a gift from a friend. Others are celebrating a milestone. Clients also pursue massage therapy for body maintenance. Because they finally decided to work on self-care. Because they had tried everything else, etc.

Needless to say, our clients arrive at our studio saying, “Here I am.”

To me that has been a beautiful reflection of my relationship with God. At whatever point in my life, I need to trust God with what he has for me and say, “Here I am, Lord.”

The trust and vulnerability that comes along with a client/therapist relationship directly correlates to a relationship of one with God.

Open the Door When Opportunities Come Knocking.

Most every business has a mission and vision.

Our mission is to positively impact our community through professional and therapeutic massage & skincare. Over the years I have learned to constantly ask how we can continue to do that better, even beyond the services that we provide.

Because of this, we have been able to sign and send cards for hurting/healing clients.

We have given discounts to those who need therapy but lack financial resources.

We have donated to many local nonprofits to partner and support their good works in the community.

And we have had the chance to be a positive part of many of our co-workers’ lives. We’ve attended baby showers, going away parties, bridal showers and weddings together.

Through being a small business owner, I have been presented with more ways to share life and God’s love than I ever would have thought possible.

Slow and Steady

I used to be the fly-by-the seat-of-my-pants type of person. That changed when I became a business owner.

I now had people’s jobs (their lives and their families) as my responsibility. I no longer dive into things without further research. And I no longer make decisions without consulting at least one other person.

As a Christian business leader, I’ve had to shift my focus to the long-term care of my staff and clients. Business has taught me a level of discipline (that I had not known I was missing!). And it reminds me of the blessing and gravity of my situation. It also has taught me to wait on God.

As I often reflect on my life, ministry, and business, I am blown away by how it started and developed. Despite the fact that I never dreamed of being a small business owner, God has led me down this path and continues to show me opportunity to live the best life I can for the Kingdom.

That excites me. It also encourages me to continue on in conversations prompting others to dig deeper into what God is showing or teaching them through their profession, passions, and career.

I keep coming back to the image of God’s people offering all they have to God with wingspans wide open. A complete openness to the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. With that attitude, I know that he WILL work in and through us, refining us and strengthening our faith along the way.

Of all the places to choose to be, and although uncomfortable and humbling at times, that place is the one where I want to dwell.

Carissa Ressler
Carissa Ressler is owner and studio director for Kairos Massage & Skincare in Elizabethtown, Pa. She is also director of NextGen Ministries for the Atlantic Conference of the BIC U.S. Carissa and her husband, Nick, have two children and live in Lebanon, Pa.

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