Is God CEO, or am I

On March 19, 2020, Fantastic Aussie Tours employed approximately 40 people and owned 16 buses.

Our biggest money-spinner, the double-decker Blue Mountains Explorer Bus sightseeing fleet, transported 65,000 passengers each year around a sightseeing route between the historic tourist towns of Katoomba and Leura.

Most were international visitors, with a small but solid stream of interstate guests.

On March 20, 2020, Australia locked its borders to the world.

The effect on Blue Mountains Explorer Bus was immediate and crippling.

On March 31, the first Sydney lockdown was announced.

The charter bus and coach arm of our business, Fantastic Aussie Tours, stalled too as school, university and corporate groups were grounded.

Our passion, Christian Fellowship Tours (CFT) which ran international and interstate tours, also remained parked in the depot.

You can imagine my worry.

I prayed more than ever, read the Bible more than ever and pleaded for wisdom.

The message back was clear: don’t focus on what to do but on what not to do. I was prompted to stop chasing status and frequent flyer points.

For the first time in months, I felt calm and drew closer to God.

Just before that time, I had joined the business-mentoring program Business on Purpose with Peter Irvine and John Sikkema, which I found incredibly supportive.

One of the challenges I faced was the question of how I should go forward as a Christian in business, running an obvious Christian business (Christian Fellowship Tours).

Should I give up the secular business (Blue Mountains Explorer Bus) to focus on the Christian one?

Peter Irvine’s answer was clear – all my businesses should be treated as kingdom businesses.

This led me to work more with the Halftime Institute’s Sikkema and Glenn Williams.

I finished the course, but the struggle now is harder than ever.

When you put God first, it is easy to say you don’t need to worry because God will provide for you and has a perfect plan for your life.

The reality is that you as an entrepreneur must also take responsibility.

Some people believe that God is their CEO.

But I believe that the Christian in business is the CEO – supported and looked after by God.

So where is my business now under my leadership, with God’s support and care?

We have not turned a profit in more than 18 months.

By the end of June, we had almost managed a break square position.

The Explorer Bus fleet ran on weekends, public holidays and daily during school holidays; about half our charter tours had returned, and Christian Fellowship Tours had pivoted to a domestic-only business with some success.

Unfortunately, our team had shrunk and many of those who remained worked on reduced hours.

Then bang, Sydney Lockdown 2.0.

We had drained money during the first lockdown, even with JobKeeper assistance. This time we knew the losses would be devastating, even fatal, to the business without massive change.

We discussed hibernating the Explorer Bus fleet and Christian Fellowship Tours and selling more buses.

My biggest concern for CFT was our 2022 domestic tours program which included sending a coach around Australia from Sydney to Darwin.

Sure it’s next year, but what would happen if our coach was close to the Western Australia border and the premier announced a new border closure?

Sure we might all be vaccinated by then, but what if a new strain arrived that was resilient against the vaccine and the borders were closed?

Those scenarios may indeed come to pass.

But we have chosen to place our trust in God and pour our energy into Christian Fellowship Tours.

We’re going ahead with our tours program launch.

If it goes to plan there will be many happy Christian travellers.

If we are forced to cancel for reasons beyond our control, at least we gave it a go.

The other advantage of a smaller business is the opportunity of serving God on a smaller, more practical level.

There would be more time to serve in my local church, transport in a bus people who normally are unable to get to church, work at a slower pace and be around my kids more.

However, I have Peter Irvine in my ear: if you have been given entrepreneurial skills, use them to grow your business as big as possible as there are plenty of church projects that would appreciate a $1 million gift.

That is the dilemma I have prayed for God’s help.

While I have the peace that God is in control and will look after me, it is still not easy, and that’s okay too, as the challenges we face are drawing me even closer to God.

We have committed to Christian Fellowship Tours as I know this has the potential to assist others and provide a solid business base for our longer-term once international borders re-open to Holy land tours, enabling people to see and feel the Bible come alive.

We are shrinking the business further and selling more of our bus and coach fleet, and I am seeking part-time employment elsewhere.

While I have the peace that God is in control and will look after me, it is still not easy, and that’s okay too, as the challenges we face are drawing me even closer to God.

My wife asked numerous times if I was okay when we made the decision to permanently park the Explorer Bus after 35 years.

With tearful friends phoning and messaging her with messages of support, she thought that the impact had not yet hit me.

I repeatedly reassured her. And I was fine.

After accepting last year that God was number one and effectively owned my business assets, I realised I was just selling his assets to do something more productive for him in the future.

When you’re hemorrhaging money and selling off assets to survive, you must question why you continue to fight to stay on the same path.

I question whether I am doing what God wants me to do or if this is a clear sign to give it all up and become a youth pastor.

On the other hand, I keep reading in the Bible about endurance, perseverance and patience.

This is my quandary.

One thing I have discovered, though: stress and peace can exist together.

Jason Cronshaw is managing director of tour and coach company Fantastic Aussie Tours, which owns Blue Mountains Explorer Bus sightseeing fleet and Christian Fellowship Tours international tour company. He has a Masters in Business Administration from the University of NSW, is a non-executive director of Tinpac packaging company, president of Blue Mountains Tourism and attends Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Wentworth Falls NSW with his family.

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