We're gonna talk about Christianity a wee bit in this blog post, and also how what I learned in my super-conservative Christian upbringing has made me extraordinarily skeptical of internet marketers -- and why you should be skeptical of them, too.
Quick definition: the Prosperity Gospel (also the "health and wealth gospel"; also "the gospel of success") is a remarkably capitalist belief system. Prosperity theology is marked by the central tenant that belief in God and adherence to their laws/scripture means that God will, in turn, honor that faith through material success. This particular belief holds that financial security and success, as well as physical health, are fruits of the spirit -- or, are the guaranteed physical manifestations of a strong faith. God's will, this doctrine says, is for us to be happy, and a successful faith looks like material security.
Y'all are smart, and you see where I'm going with this.
There are many business folks on the internet preaching a version of the Prosperity Gospel: do these things, do X system, do Y -- and here's your five figure launch and six figure year.
(Some of these folks are openly Christian, and their business advice -- and how they relate that to their faith -- looks a little too much like the Prosperity Gospel for my liking.)
Relevant background: some of you know that I grew up in a super conservative, right wing sect of evangelical Christianity, including attendance at one church that was a full-on cult. (And now I'm an ex-Christian, super witchy, tarot reading ex-academic who owns a lingerie boutique geared to the queer community and lives a super-gay life with her super-gay partner. So, there's that.)
But all those years in the church taught me a few things, and it would be capital-F Foolishness to throw the baby out with the (somewhat gross) bathwater. One of the most important life lessons I learned at church?
A surprisingly rational skepticism of people who promise the moon.
The up side of growing up in doom-and-gloom, babies are sinful and need to be saved, there's nothing good about you except your faith in Jesus churches? They are pretty fucking awesome about teaching a girl how to avoid charlatans. (And we all know how many of those there are on the internet.)
In my church, this skepticism was happily extended to churches - even socially conservative churches - that preached the Prosperity Gospel.
The Prosperity Gospel was dangerous, I learned, because it taught people to be dependent on external signs of success in order to be internally, spiritually strong.
After all, if money, health, and career success were the signs of a healthy and vital faith... what the fuck would it say about your faith if those things weren't in your life?
... what the fuck would it say about your business if those things weren't in your life?
Not gonna lie: I've totes fallen for this business prosperity gospel in the past. But connecting online marketers and look-at-my-income-report entrepreneurs to the Prosperity Gospel preachers never fails to give me a hard and fast reality check.
This is a lesson I keep returning to in my own life, even now, long after I've shucked off the callouses from that faith. This lesson is a damn important one.
Not only is it vital for our business' success that our soul's health not be externally dependent, but it's vital to avoid advice which places this kind of soul-sucking importance on external success.
Don't get me wrong: external success is rad. But your business is not fucked just because you're not growing at a certain rate or earning a certain amount of income. Also? A lack of those indicators doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing anything wrong.
Theresa Reed (The Tarot Lady) calls these predatory folks Dream Vultures. And is this not the perfect name, the perfect image for this phenomenon? Folks, charlatans, who prey on the hopes and desires of others -- because who among us doesn't want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy? -- and, in the process, benefit themselves.
All of this is to say, listen to King Bey:
AND THIS IS OKAY
Seriously, listen to me:
THIS IS OKAY.
Most businesses - not some, most (the vast majority, in fact) - grow at a slow rate. Organically. Over time. (Here's a blog post about that.)
When you are heart-centered and soulfully grounded, you know that this is okay.
Cut the Prosperity Gospel and the Dream Vultures out of your life, friends.
You are enough.