Have you ever considered Zacchaeus as a role model for your entrepreneurial journey? We read about Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10:
He [Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (New Revised Standard Version)
Some background to help us understand what we just read. Tax collectors were considered in the lowest regard because not only were they collaborators (and as Jewish people, traitors) with the occupying Romans (enemies of God’s people), but also because they extorted extra money from people in order to become very wealthy themselves. A chief tax collector would have overseen other tax collectors.
Jesus was always hanging out with outcasts and marginalized people in order to bring them God’s love and to invite them back to a relationship with God. Zacchaeus was just such a one that God loved. Jesus starts a saving relationship with Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus speaks of his character. He wants to give generously from his wealth to help the poor. He promises to repay fourfold any he defrauded (which makes me wonder if he defrauded anyone — he would be bankrupt in short order otherwise).
It is Zacchaeus’ character that makes me think that he would be a good role model. He responds faithfully to God’s gift of love. He gives generously. He either was upright in his dealings or he made amends and changed. Zacchaeus may have been flawed but his heart seems to have been in the right place.
What do you think? Is Zacchaeus role model material?