I was recently a guest on a podcast discussing unequally yoked relationships. Prior to this show, I'll be honest, I wasn't 100% sure what it even meant to be "yoked". I know that I've heard it in church before and I'd assumed that it referred to not being on the same level or having the same viewpoints when it came to spirituality or religion. However, after studying and discussing the topic, it was revealed to me that being unequally yoked goes far beyond dating and religious decisions.
Let's first start by defining yoke. It's a tool that was referred to and used in the Bible to pair a set of oxen to draw a plow. The tool ( I encourage you to google search to see a photo) went around their necks and force them to work in unison to get a job done. If one of the oxen decided to abruptly lay down for a rest, the other would also be forced to rest. If one of the oxen decided to go left, the other would be forced to go to the left.
Now think about how this would apply to a physical relationship with another person. If two people are unequally yoked, one is doing more or less than the other person; essentially they are working against one another. If two people are equally yoked, they are clearly working together towards a common goal. They have the same desires, the same drive, the same viewpoints/visions, and beliefs. In marriage, being unequally yoked can cause division in the home, confusion in parenting, disagreements over finances and hardships when it's time to make lifelong decisions. When two people don't have the same vision for their family they will actively rub one another to cause friction until there's an explosion.
Let's take it a step further and look at how this principle pours over into the business realm. Two people decide to jump into a business venture because they've been friends forever and assumed they have the same passions and desires for the business. Without discussing the possible negative outcomes and road bumps, they go full throttle and open a business. A couple months into the business and the partners aren't growing as quickly as they predicted. One of the partners is ready to give in and close up shop. The other kicks into overdrive and starts to work on new ways of generating income. Throughout this process, the partnership is losing it's flame because the visions are no longer the same if they ever were to begin with. There's a wedge that eventually builds up between the partners to the point that the business folds. This scenario isn't uncommon. It happened because they didn't have the same goals for the business. They didn't have the same desire to create a strong legacy.
It's so important to not only make sure that your personal relationships are equally yoked but to also frequently evaluate your business relationships. It's so easy to overlook several red flags and justify why negative partnerships should live on, but just like we should evaluate ourselves periodically...we need to look at our partnerships as well. If you're constantly being drained by negative energy and attitudes, or a spirit of defeat and fear, surrounded by individuals who fold under pressure...you may need to seriously step back and determine if that business relationship is really essential or detrimental to your success.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself about your business relationships to help determine if they're possibly toxic:
- Do I get worked up/frustrated when I think about or speak about my business partner?
- Do I avoid having to see this person to avoid confrontation and feeling uncomfortable?
- Is this person respectful of my time and my efforts?
- Do my values conflict with theirs? This one is so important!
I would never say that going into business with friends is a bad idea, it's an amazing idea. However, you have to be sure that all parties go in with the same passions, goals, drives, and willingness to display the real strength of character when times get tough. If you decide that you have a partnership that needs to come to an end, remember to always do so with respect and grace.