Since becoming a Christian I can definitely confess to being a changed person. So much so that it is to God’s Glory that he can do such a transformation. One area that has taken a little bit of transitioning has been integrating my faith into my leadership and business. It seemed like whenever I was involved in a leadership group at church, everyone involved had on their extra nice hat. It was a little confusing to me because within a group of leaders, no one would take the lead. This was particularly strange as most of our leadership group was comprised of local businessmen and professionals. Yet rather than address the situation at hand, like we would do in any business I have been involved in, we would just postpone, pray about it, and declare that it is God’s church and things will work out. Being the new kid on the block, both as a Christian and a leader in the church, I stayed in the observation mode for awhile. As I observed I became increasingly confused as to why there seemed to be an invisible barrier to integrating our business sense and take action leadership into the church setting. Over time it appeared to negatively impact the church just as it would a business that followed these practices.
As I began to work with Christian Businesses in my business coaching practice there was a similar dichotomy. These Christian businessmen who were strong in their faith and turned everything over to God in the church were having none of it in business. In some sense it was like they were checking their faith at the door when they went to the office. I have heard comments like, “We wouldn’t survive if we ran our business in a Christian way.” Or “It would open the door for everyone to walk all over us if they knew I was a strong Christian.” Then on the opposite extreme, those who wanted to follow God in all parts of their life put a misplaced twist on Christian professional values. They allowed employees to run amuck, took the brunt of every contract, and basically made poor business decisions claiming “Isn’t that what Jesus would do?” Again, being new to this work and faith integration I was still perplexed. I started asking people why they felt they couldn’t be both a strong Christian and a strong business person or leader. I received such a variety of answers:
• Being a Christian means being nice. You can’t survive in business being too nice.
• It is against the law to show your faith in business.
• If I don’t fit in with my customers they won’t buy from me.
• God doesn’t care about my business. I have to do that part on my own.
• Christians aren’t supposed to care about profits but I have mouths to feed.
All of these responses were heartfelt. The Christian businessmen and women making these claims were truly frustrated that they couldn’t effectively integrate their faith and their business. Since I was on fire about God and I was passionate about business, I began to seriously study the bible in areas of leadership, decision-making, accountability, teaching and many other topics. I found strength and clarity about Christian leadership and many other topics that apply directly to our business. If we are to follow Jesus, what I found in the bible is that it is more important to:
• Follow God’s will regardless of whether it is popular or not.
• Hold people accountable to God’s ways which includes submitting to authority, doing everything in a way that glorifies God, being honest, watching our tongue, serving others, and much more.
• To seek wisdom and make wise decisions.
• To handle conflict head-on and directly with the person the conflict is with.
• To lead strongly and boldly.
All of my scripture research reinforced that a Christian business person was a person of integrity, justice, wisdom, character, strength, consistency, and love. In looking back at the two settings described at the beginning of this post I am relieved to see such clarity in the bible as to our roles. Here is what I have learned:
1. If we are following God, we are following Him in every aspect of our life. He cares about it all, even our business.
2. If we are truly acting in love, when we have to make the tough decisions or face conflict head-on, that love will many times bridge the gap where hurt, defensiveness, or denial may set in.
3. If we know something is God’s will (and He gives us a lot of direction for that in the bible) we should have even more confidence to step up and lead, rather than back down and wait.
4. Jesus led by example handling issues and communicating calmly (in most cases) yet directly.
As Christian businessmen and women our hands are not tied if we integrate our faith into our business. On the contrary, we have an extra set of hands to lead us and guide us. Not only can we integrate our faith and our business, but we can show the world that as Christians we can have unwavering strength and limitless compassion simultaneously and seamlessly. And as is true with God in all things, He is faithful. As I have personally followed what scripture shares with us about leadership and business, I have seen the wisdom of His ways and seen success achieved. My business has been profitable since day 1. God’s vision for my business has stayed consistent and developed over time adding strategies and tactics along the way. My business has skipped the roller coaster that I see in client business of constantly changing focus and vision. My contacts and relationships have grown and are based on mutual support. My decision-making is more long-term focused and less reactive.
As I have worked with clients to integrate their faith with their business I have also seen growth and improvement. I have received comments like,
“As I have become more comfortable with accountability, it has helped me to hire better people and get off to a productive and consistent start.”
“I wish I had been tougher to begin with, I see now how my lack of discipline and holding others accountable has negatively affected my business.”
“I wasn’t sure how to handle business decisions and now I am so happy to have scripture to guide me. I just didn’t realize how much guidance God provides about leadership and business.”
It is not always clear exactly what God would have us do, but if we make it a way of life to always seek Him, to study His word, and to live a life that strives to emulate Christ, I believe strongly that we will have the answers we need and that we will see God’s divine guidance in all aspects of our life, even our business. I have seen it directly in mine!
If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31