Every Man is as Lazy as He Dares to Be

by Patrick Lai

Every man is as lazy as he dares to be.  – Emerson

Emerson had it right. People do not do what is expected; we do what is inspected. Phil Parshall, after forty years of serving among Muslims, said to me, “I have my doubts about tentmaking … most tentmakers I know start out doing business and ministry, but in the end it is all business and no ministry.”

Everyone receives gratification from accomplishing tasks. Whether we are building a bridge or cleaning out the garage, we enjoy seeing the fruits of our labors. Productivity makes us feel good. It gives us value and a sense of worth. Those people groups which are still without a church in the 21st century are unreached for a reason – they are difficult to reach! Missionary work among these peoples has produced precious little fruit. Tentmakers, by definition have two tasks to do. If one task is producing fruit and the other is not, it is easy to gravitate toward the more productive, fruitful task. Therefore, it is important that every tentmaker is under some structure or relationship which provides the needed accountability to keep us growing and active in fulfilling both of our callings.
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Are Our Beliefs Stunting Our Businesses?

By Dave Kahle

“For my whole life, I was led to believe that we were the richest country on earth. Now, I see that we are the poorest. It’s like my whole life has been wasted.”

This comment comes from John, the 80-year old father of one of our Albanian foster children, who was visiting the USA and our home for the first time in his life. He had lived his whole life under the communist government of Albania – one of the most oppressive in the world — and was now venturing out of the country for the first time. We couldn’t help but feel for him. He had been led to believe a lie, and that belief shaped his actions and his attitudes, and organized his life. Now, at an age where there was little to be done about it, he regretted his life lived in accordance with a belief that turned out to be false.

While not nearly as poignant and heart-breaking as John’s experience, we all allow the same thing – false beliefs – to impact our thinking and therefore, our businesses and our lives.

For the past 30 years, I have served as a sales consultant, trainer, and speaker. I have worked with at least 459 businesses and served thousands of others in seminars and speaking engagements. In all of this experience in the trenches, I’ve made some observations about what it takes to build a successful, thriving business – and what hinders the growth of those businesses who have the potential for great things, but languish in mediocrity.

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7 Principles for Running a Kingdom Business from a 20 year Journey

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

Starting out, I have BAM goals for my business and part of that is a company culture I want to intentionally develop. I expect my values and intentions will hit some roadblocks as I work that out on the ground…. How have you intentionally developed your company culture so that it reinforces and integrates with your BAM goals? What have been some challenges to that process, especially when operating cross-culturally?

~ Crossing Cultures

Dear Crossing,

Starting a business whose explicit goal and raison d’etre is to serve Kingdom concerns is difficult, but not impossible. My take on ‘Kingdom concerns’ is that they essentially boil down to developing people and glorifying God. Down through the ages, many Christians have successfully set up businesses for the same purpose. No doubt, many have also failed. While I do not have empirical evidence, I believe a majority of failures could be down to the business end of things, rather than their choice of Kingdom values over commercial interests.

I started a BAM company in India about 20 years ago. It took me three years to get to a point where I could formalize in writing how I would run the company as a “Kingdom Business”– as I referred to it at the time. Here are seven key principles that I discovered along the way, especially during those first three years of trying to figure it all out. I hope these principles will help you in your own discovery of what it means for you to be a BAM entrepreneur. Read more

6 Ways BAM Practitioners Develop Their Company Culture: Part 2

We asked 12 BAM Practitioners how they have gone about developing their company culture and what values and behaviors they have intentionally tried to instill. Their responses showed six clear themes: 6 ways to develop company culture. [Read Part 1]

Part 2: 3 more ways practitioners told us they develop company culture

 

4. Staff Orientation and Training

Communicating expectations upfront about culture and the biblical foundation for company values is a powerful way to set the stage for a strong ‘culture identity’. Regular discussion and staff training reinforces the culture and values that are being communicated and modelled.

Our business is in a Muslim country which has minorities of all the major religions. Everyone we hire is asked in their final interview, “We operate this business according to the principles in the Bible, is this a problem for you?” We have Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists all working for us. No one has ever turned down a job because of this question. Having laid this foundation, it paves the way for prayer and using the Scriptures openly in our office. It gives us opportunities to teach godly values in all we do. – Patrick, Asia

Staff orientation is something we use to manage expectations upfront – even before making employment offers. We share the mission, history and culture of the company, along with the role of faith at the company or the personal testimony of the founder. This is all to ask if the person is “willing to come into this type of environment”. We get a verbal agreement that they are joining a faith-based or values-based company and embarking on a journey to challenge and grow themselves. We’ve found this is essential to manage expectations and open the door for follow on spiritual impact. From there we take an hour weekly during work hours, where the company is shut down, to break into teams to discuss and set goals around biblically-based principles – Mark, IT, Asia

We meet weekly as small groups to work towards character development – Ben and Yumi, IT, Southeast Asia Read more

6 Ways BAM Practitioners Develop Their Company Culture: Part 1

We asked 12 BAM Practitioners how they have gone about developing their company culture and what values and behaviors they have intentionally tried to instill. Their responses showed six clear themes: 6 ways to develop company culture.

Part 1: The top 3 ways practitioners told us they develop company culture

 

1. Visible Values That Are Thoroughly Integrated into Operations

Having a set of clearly articulated values is a key to developing an intentionally-driven company culture. These values must then be woven through everything that happens in the company.

We try to integrate our core values into everything that we do. Our job applications are built with questions that try to assess these values in applicants. Our HR training is basically a series of lessons on these specific values. Most problems that arise can be answered by looking back at these core values and applying them to individual situations. However, it is sometimes tough to remember to take opportunities to teach values. Often our employees come to us with problems and we have tried to develop a habit of pointing them to the core values and asking them which ones apply to their particular problem. This means slowing down from the demands of the day and taking the time to walk through it with them. It is often tempting (because it is easier and faster) to just tell them what to do. However, we find that when we are intentional and take the time, it is a huge blessing to both parties and to the long-term effectiveness of our business. – Steven, Service Company, Thailand

We have a defined set of three core values, which are Social Justice, Honest Relationships, and Servant leadership. Clearly these have an underlying missiological foundation. Our values affect the way we operate, for instance, our office layout reflects our values: no-one has a big office, or a large desk. We are seeking to embed these across our whole team, irrespective of faith background. We are currently walking through a series of 1 hour sessions with our management team entitled Values Conversations. These are round-table discussions around the values, rather than front-led training. The concept behind this is an understanding that we are journeying together, we are all a work-in-progress and the role of leadership in these conversations is from a place of vulnerability and mutual learning rather than from a place of strength. – MH, Asia Read more

How to Integrate Kingdom Culture in Company Culture

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

Starting out, I have BAM goals for my business and part of that is a company culture I want to intentionally develop. I expect my values and intentions will hit some roadblocks as I work that out on the ground…. How have you intentionally developed your company culture so that it reinforces and integrates with your BAM goals? What have been some challenges to that process, especially when operating cross-culturally?

~ Crossing Cultures

Dear Crossing,

Company Culture is Kingdom Culture

If we believe that the first step of any successful mission is getting a believer together with an unbeliever, then we can immediately see the power of business. If the business context may be the only encounter a person has with the Kingdom of God, then that business culture becomes mission-critical. As Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

If you wish to get something done in business, the environment the people do it in is important. If you wish to get something done and have people encounter the light of the Kingdom, then developing the right culture is a non-negotiable. In our business operations, we say that we, “Show people around the kingdom and introduce them to the King.” Read more

Developing a BAM Company Culture Part 2: Aligning a Company

Read Part 1: Developing a Company Culture: Foundational Principles

Since the leaders and staff of a business usually come from different worldviews, with differing values and beliefs, it is quite likely that alignment of behaviours and practices will not be automatic! This is especially true of a BAM company that is operating cross-culturally and with language barriers among staff.

The company leaders may wish they didn’t need policies and systems because they want everyone to be aligned on vision and values. However, very often we are not. Newcomers come in without understanding of the company vision and values, established staff still struggle to be on the same page, simply because they have different cultural norms, expectations and learned behaviours. So how do I as the leader draw us through cultural change? How do I help people adopt our ways?

Going Through Cultural Change

It is helpful to remember that you are working for behavioural change, but that current behaviours or attitudes stem from already held principles, that are in turn rooted in values and beliefs.

There are three stages of cultural alignment:

1. Dependent culture

I will obey your rule but I don’t agree with it. This rule or practice is not intrinsic to me, I comply because I have to, because there is some external incentive or penalty. Read more

Developing a BAM Company Culture Part 1: Foundational Principles

Company culture is vital to success in business as mission. In BAM we ‘show people around the Kingdom, and introduce them to the King’, as one practitioner expressed. Therefore, an important goal of a BAM company is to establish a ‘Kingdom of God’ culture in relationships and the business environment – influencing for God and for good inside the company and in the wider community, among all stakeholders.

Secularisation and mission-drift are a very real threats to a BAM business as it grows larger. The faster a company grows, the greater the threat of culture dilution. The question of how to maintain and strengthen your company culture is something to seriously think about as you prepare to grow as a BAM company.

The Belief Tree

Culture develops out of beliefs and values (roots and trunk) that grow in the ‘soil’ of our worldview. From there comes the principles that guide the decisions we make and the policies we create (branches). These in the turn produce the ‘fruit’ – the actions, behaviours, routines, practices, initiatives, programs etc. in our company.

YWAM_Belief_Tree

Graphic and Belief Tree Teaching by YWAM International

Our worldview is developed by our experiences in the culture and family which we grew up in. We need to first ask ourselves how our own worldview needs to be transformed to align with a biblical worldview – one that is shaped by the Word of God. Then we need to recognise that the people we are working with may have a different set of values, beliefs, principles and practices, growing out of a different worldview to ours. Read more