We all have our own stories of how 2020 has affected us – the losses we’ve faced, the unexpected upsides we’ve enjoyed and the ways we think it’ll impact us for years for to come.
One thing, no doubt, that all of our experiences share is that – to varying degrees – they’ve caused us to reflect on our priorities and what we value in life.
When March rolled around, Christian Fellowship Tours (CFT) managing director Jason Cronshaw was just taking a breath after the Black Summer bushfires. His Blue Mountains tourism business had been put on hold.
“When the bushfires were on, our business in the Blue Mountains was really put on hold but we had the hope and light to know that CFT was still looking at a bright future,” Jason told Hope 103.2.
“Then when the pandemic hit, the Blue Mountains had just started to come out of the bushfires, and after about two weeks of growth our entire business was effectively shut down overnight.”
Like many tourism companies, CFT were no longer able to offer any kind of international or domestic travel experience – something they’ve done as a family business for over 45 years.
Jason was uncertain about the company’s future but said the COVID-19 crisis has renewed his faith in God, and completely revolutionised his approach to business.
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“When we were completely shut down and before JobKeeper, I probably read the Bible and prayed the hardest I’ve ever done in my life,” Jason said.
“I was really praying to God for wisdom about what to do going forward, and what to change within the business.
“The amazing thing that came back for me was the message, ‘Jason, you need to concentrate on what not to do’. And, that for me, was chasing status.
“As a small example… I was a platinum frequent flyer, and I used to travel more often just to have the status of doing that, and the message back to me was, ‘don’t do that’.
“The thought of saying, ‘we need more buses, or more depots or more money’ – all of those things, God was saying, ‘don’t do that, don’t chase that, and the way forward will be clear’. I’ve really changed my mindset about all of that personally.”
As Jason has reassessed the way he handles his business, it has bled over into the rest of his life as well.
Before he made the mental shift, Jason said, “God was part of my life alongside my life; alongside my business and alongside my family. [Now] I’ve put God first in my life rather than part of it. And, by changing that, and being 100 per cent focused on knowing God’s perfect plan is to look after me, whatever happens doesn’t really matter now”.
“I’ve become much more relaxed and much more confident that God’s got a plan for me. And if the business comes along with that, that’s great. But if it doesn’t and there’s something else, then that’s what I’ll follow through with,” he said.
Does Jason think he would have got to that place without the pandemic?
“Absolutely not,” he said.
“It’s really strengthened my relationship with Jesus – being able to read the Bible more and being able to really grow my faith and my relationship with God, and work through these things. It’s been this disaster that’s made me go through that experience.”
In the midst of the uncertainties of this year, like many of us, Jason has seen how his lifestyle was really affecting those around him and feels like it’s only got better for him and his family now.
“I was travelling for business to chase the status, which meant I was away from my family more often, I was away from church and I was away from the business more often – using the excuse that I was doing it for business. Now, I’ve got more family time, more time at church and it’s been fantastic,” he said.
In sharing his own story of confronting his motivations and revaluating his relationship to God, Jason hopes it’ll help other businesses navigate this season well too.
“I guess I just want to encourage others who are going through similar situations as well, and to help them know that you’re not alone,” Jason said.
His advice to business owners and leaders is to “ask God for wisdom about what needs to happen – not just on a business level, but on a personal level as well. And have a look at, and ensure that, what you’re doing is part of what you think God’s plan is for you. Maybe [this pandemic] is the catalyst for change.”
Listen to Jason’s full chat with Laura Bennett in the player above.