That we struggle with the concept of faith as a foundation to our business in this world is not surprising. The church has the opposite problem. Are we negating our faith if we use business and leadership principles in running the church?
The Misguided Church: Faith, 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, we would just postpone, pray about it, and declare that it is God’s church and things will work out.
Many times things didn’t work out and I always wondered if God allowed the natural consequence of our inaction to occur because we adamantly refused to use the gifts and talents He had given us as a leadership team.
The Misguided Christian Business: Faith, Leadership and Business
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 were adamant about following 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?”
Why Christians Believe Faith and Business Are Mutually Exclusive?
I have asked many people why they feel they can’t be both a strong Christian and a strong business person or leader. I received 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.
The Bible Provides Clarity About Faith and Business
In studying the Bible in the areas of leadership, decision-making, accountability, teaching and many other topics, I found strength and clarity about Christian leadership and it’s application to 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.
Faith and Business Should Be Fully Integrated
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:
- If we are following God, we are following Him in every aspect of our life. He cares about it all, even our business.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Our Faith Is a Benefit to our Business
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.
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 one. 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 other small businesses 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, study His word, and 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, which includes our business. I have seen it directly in mine!
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”