Consultants provide expertise in areas where that the client is unable to fulfill. The consultant’s area of expertise is their defining advantage. Individuals hire consultants for advice and strategy, which makes intellectual property is the foundation of consulting and also the key to consultants remaining relevant in the 21stcentury. Despite the connotation of simplicity that surrounds consulting, there are many challenges that consultants face in the 21stcentury. Many small business owners choose to ask Siri before they would think to hire a consultant! Which leads us to the first challenge of 21stcentury consulting: DIY.
DIY (Do It Yourself)
The 21st century is the age of DIY (do it yourself). Pinterest has become the DIY headquarters for home décor, nail art, make-up tutorials, wedding planning and even cooking recipes. In many instances, Pinterest, the DIY headquarters, has replaced the need for many services that professionals provide. Likewise, the DIY movement has spilled over into the land of consulting. Free e-books, blogs and webinars have become the substitute for the physical presence and experience of an consultant. While the authors of these blogs and e-books are extremely knowledgeable, their expertise is not individualized. In other words, DIY consultancy is not “one size fits all”. Despite the rise of e-learning from Youtube bloggers and other digital influencers, there is still a place for consultants in 21stcentury.
From a biblical perspective, “doing it yourself” can get you into trouble. Doing anythingwithout the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit is a failure waiting to happen. Proverbs 3:6 (NRSV) admonishes us to:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body.
Consultants represent proper leadership and guidance that businesses – small or large – need to be effective in every business climate. Of course, there will be business owners that choose to “do it themselves” without external (or internal) help, and they have plenty of resources to do. However, for the business owners that value expertise at any cost, there are consultants willing and ready to fulfill their needs.
The Quest for Individuality
This information age has posed many challenges for innovators. Plagiarism in academia has extremely high consequences, but it’s extremely difficult to enforce punishment on the theft of intellectual property. Many consultants struggle to find their niche because so many other consultants have already branded their thoughts and ideas. Instead of procrastinating or resorting to stealing intellectual property, 21stcentury consultants should consider the power of partnerships. 2018 has become the year of great business mergers among household names in business:
Amazon purchased Whole Foods.
Arby’s purchased Buffalo Wild Wings.
Cigna, one of the country's largest health insurers agreed to buy Express Scripts.
Yahoo and AOL became a new company called Oath.
Coach (Tapestry) purchased Kate Spade.
These business partnerships and mergers listed above represent the effectiveness of partnerships. Even though Westernized culture advocates for autonomy and individuality, 21stcentury consultants should consider joining with other like-minded consultants to build an empire. There is an array of scholarly literature that lists the “pros” and “cons” of partnerships and it’s extremely important to know and understand these nuisances. Most importantly, the 21stcentury consultant should not be afraid to partner with others or become involved in community because they are afraid of losing their individuality. Partnerships create community which creates opportunities for mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity.
Even though consultants are normally the source of wisdom, partnering with other consultants can inspire creativity and innovation that can make businesses more effective on a global scale. Lastly, in the kingdom of God, we learn through partnership and community. By assimilating together and learning from our elders, we, as Christian leaders, become better versions of ourselves. The world doesn’t need a new idea, they need spirit-filled consultants who are unafraid to be partner, teach, be taught, and take risks for their clients for the glory of God.
Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7).
Success Without Competition
As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they made merry,
“Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day on (1 Samuel 18: 6-9 NRSV)
Oftentimes, wealth and success are frowned upon in Christian communities. Jesus didn’t have a problem with wealth, he had a problem with greed. Likewise, success is concept that makes individuals feel uncomfortable because of their own personal insecurities. It is important for the 21stcentury Christian consultant to remember that their sense of success should not depend on how well another individual is doing. Comparison breeds competition, which gives the spirit of envy easy to the spiritual life of an individual. However, God is not threatened by success. In fact, it is his desire that we prosper. Furthermore, the biggest challenge of the 21st century consultant is overcoming the need to their downplay success. Consider King Saul, he slayed his thousands. This is an extreme accomplishment! But David, he slayed his ten thousands. Does this make Saul’s accomplishments “less than”? Absolutely not! Unfortunately, Saul’s insecurity birthed an unnecessary conflict between he and David. There are many Christian consultants who are just like David. They are skilled, educated, personable, anointed and successful - which causes them to be placed in conflict amongst peers without their consent. Inadvertently, it can be concluded that there can be no success without competition. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Everything God allows is purposed to mature us and perfect our faith. There is no way to completely eliminate competition from the life of the consultant, but there is a guarantee that the opposition will produce growth.
Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).
God has provided a solution to every challenge that every 21stcentury may face. It is the responsibility of the consultant to not allow these challenges to become obstacles, but rather an opportunity to grow in grace, mature, develop character, and become more effective.