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A Business Man’s Journey

Tensions Between Faith and Work

One of the great privileges of traveling and working internationally is the frequent opportunity provided by long journeys for prayerful reflection on the goodness of God and the adventure of a life walking with Him.  A few years ago, on one such long trip, I took some time to reflect on my life in the previous 7 years since becoming a Christian, in particular, on my journey towards integrating faith and work, mission and business.

I came to faith in my late twenties in the midst of the busiest time in my working life.  I worked as a strategist and management consultant in one of the leading financial services companies in the UK.  I was being stretched like never before in a senior management role, responsible for leading and implementing major organisational change in my department and at the same time completing a part-time MBA.  That God chose this time to stir my heart still amazes me.

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7 Prayer Habits of Highly Effective People

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up a great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out above the rest. Below is the “Most Popular Post” for the fall of 2015.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

We asked BAM practitioners what prayer habits, practices or experiences they have found helpful in their business life. We identified some recurring themes that BAMers shared with us: 7 prayer habits for effective business as mission!

Prayer does make us more effective in business as mission because of that vital connection and co-working with the Lord. But while the title of this blog is a play on words from a famous business book by Stephen Covey, it is worth noting that many of the BAM practitioners who shared with us often did not feel very effective in prayer. Some related that they just don’t consider their prayer life particularly victorious, but are grateful for God’s grace. Others said they felt guilty about prayer, or not particularly good at it, or just found it awkward praying in another language. Some have experienced years where prayer has been wonderful, but at other times struggled to be consistent. Just as in any other walk of life, prayer in the business context takes perseverance and commitment and we don’t always get it right. However, the following experiences and habits have helped different people around the world integrate prayer into their BAM companies:

Weave prayer throughout company life

Prayer is something to be ‘threaded’ through the fabric of the business, not compartmentalised or sidelined. BAM practitioners shared many more ways they do this in the habits listed below, however the principle of having prayer integrated in multiple ways stood out: Read more

Prayer Ideas and Resources for Business People

The Institute of Faith, Work and Economics recently shared 5 practical ways you can turn events in your business day into a conversation with God. We have summarised their ideas and rounded up some ideas and resources of our own. We hope these will spark some idea for busy business people wanting to integrate prayer in to their day.

5 Practical Ways to Integrate Prayer from IFWE

1. Use Technological Reminders – set up tasks with reminders on your calendar or to do app to pray for specific people or specific needs.

2. “Attach” Prayers to Regular Activities or Objects You See Often – link a prayer request to activities which you do often. Can you think of ways to link a prayer request to each? E.g. Brush your teeth – “May my words be clean and honor You.” Clean your glasses – “Help me to see people as You see people.”

3. Use Passwords and Entry Codes as Prayer Triggers – Select passwords and codes to remind you to pray or ask for wisdom. For example, 4HimLeadMe, with a few extra numbers or punctuation marks are difficult to guess and good reminders to pray. Read more

7 Prayer Habits of Highly Effective People: Part 2

We asked BAM practitioners what prayer habits, practices or experiences they have found helpful in their business life. We identified some recurring themes that BAMers shared with us: 7 prayer habits for effective business as mission!

Read Part 1 for the first three prayer habits that BAM practitioners shared with us. Here are the final four:

Write it down

Some practitioners have found value and encouragement in writing down what to pray for and keeping track of answers to prayer.

Part of the culture in my organization is to write down the seven most important prayer points in a journal and pray for one item daily. For instance every Monday our prayer focus is on integrity, that God will help us pursue our goals ethically and grow in character. This way, we track answers to prayer as they happen and it’s a great joy to look back from time to time and see how God has answered prayer in very remarkable ways. – Henry, South Africa Read more

7 Prayer Habits of Highly Effective People: Part 1

We asked BAM practitioners what prayer habits, practices or experiences they have found helpful in their business life. We identified some recurring themes that BAMers shared with us: 7 prayer habits for effective business as mission!

Prayer does make us more effective in business as mission because of that vital connection and co-working with the Lord. But while the title of this blog is a play on words from a famous business book by Stephen Covey, it is worth noting that many of the BAM practitioners who shared with us often did not feel very effective in prayer. Some related that they just don’t consider their prayer life particularly victorious, but are grateful for God’s grace. Others said they felt guilty about prayer, or not particularly good at it, or just found it awkward praying in another language. Some have experienced years where prayer has been wonderful, but at other times struggled to be consistent. Just as in any other walk of life, prayer in the business context takes perseverance and commitment and we don’t always get it right. However, the following experiences and habits have helped different people around the world integrate prayer into their BAM companies:

Weave prayer throughout company life

Prayer is something to be ‘threaded’ through the fabric of the business, not compartmentalised or sidelined. BAM practitioners shared many more ways they do this in the habits listed below, however the principle of having prayer integrated in multiple ways stood out: Read more

How Prayer Can Shape a Business

How does prayer and direction from God shape a business? What role does prayer have in the birth of a company?

We asked BAM practitioners to share how prayer has been significant to them in the preparation and launch stages of their companies. They shared how prayer has led them to discover new business opportunities, brought them to early crucial business breakthroughs, and also helped shape their:

  • Business model
  • Vision and mission for the business
  • Company values and practices
  • Business plan and strategy

In his description of 5 Stages of the Birth of a New BAM Company, Peter Shaukat outlines different activities involved in incubating the emerging business. Many of these involve identifying what God has already done or is doing:

The preparation stage includes recognizing what God has already done in the practitioner’s life in regards to their sense of missional call and life experiences. What has God been doing to both missionally and professionally prepare the person, in terms of their skills and competencies? This is where mentoring should begin: Tell me what God has been doing in your life? Tell me what your sense of call is? Tell me how God has been preparing you? The incubation of a new BAM business is the result of the process that God has already been doing before that. The perception stage is the next step. This is about gaining an understanding of what is going on in the environment that God has called you to do business as mission within; and what God wants to do through the business. What is going on in that environment in commercial terms? What is the missional calling to the people group? How is God raising up your business? The perceiving stage addresses the question: What is your business going to be about, commercially and missionally? This is the beginning of the gestation stage of the new business.

Spiritual preparation and prayer go hand in hand with good commercial practices to build strong foundations for BAM companies. Here is how nine BAM practitioners have experienced prayer in the birth of their business: Read more

How to Pray: Practical Guidelines for a BAM Company

by David Skews

Business as mission is far more than business in worldly terms, it is service for God and must be conducted to His glory alone. In such a business, therefore, prayer (regular audience with God) is paramount to gain His guidance, His methods and His mind.

The following guidelines have a narrow application to the business. They are not intended to address personal spiritual issues, although without a close personal walk with God, any business is going to struggle.

Issues and concerns are listed under a number of headings that are relevant to business. When an issue arises, our natural instincts are likely to rise to the fore. It is suggested, therefore, to read the related biblical passages with a submissive attitude that is willing to submit to God’s ways. Our prayers should then be directed at bringing people and circumstances into alignment with God’s will.

This list is a work in progress. Many issues will arise that are not covered, but the same principle should be followed: search the scriptures for relevant references and allow God’s Spirit to apply them to the hearts of all those who are praying and then frame prayers accordingly. Read more

Prayer in the Business: We are the Branches

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. – John 15: 5-8

It doesn’t get much straightforward than John 15 does it?

Abiding = fruitfulness / Not abiding = withering

It’s hard to admit it sometimes, but we are the branches. Jesus is the vine. We are not going to be fruitful without that connection, that relationship, that remaining in Him.

Prayer is both a place of abiding, and also a promised fruit of that relationship. We connect with the true vine in the place of prayer, but Jesus also says that answered prayer is an outcome of abiding:

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15: 7 (emphasis mine)

BAM CEO and mentor Peter Shaukat writes, “In establishing an authentic, impactful BAM enterprise, we are establishing a point of light – a city on a hill, if you like – in a spiritually darkened place. We are working with BAM companies that are both viable commercial entities, and intentionally missional and transformational. Where transformation is needed or is a goal of the company, that cannot be achieved without the gifts of the Spirit. We can do nothing apart from Him.” Read more

Two Books to Help you Break Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

The sacred-secular divide is one of the most serious barriers to business as mission engagement. It is the reason, given again and again, that business people do not feel affirmed in their call to business and do not realise the good their business could do.

Here are two books to help you, and the business people in your life, break down the sacred-secular divide.

Every Good Endeavour by Tim Keller

A Review by Dr. Steve Rundle

Book - Every Good EndeavourI’ve been doing lots of reading lately on the Theology of Work, and I’m discovering that most of the books cover pretty much the same ground. (That’s a polite way of saying they’re often boring.) So I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Tim Keller’s new book Every Good Endeavor. Yes, he covers some of the same territory as others – the intrinsic goodness of work, the Creation Mandate, the Doctrine of Vocation, etc. – especially in the first few chapters. But what made this book refreshingly original for me were his discussions about the impact of the Fall on our work, and about Common Grace. Obviously these aren’t new topics either, but he has a way of encouraging the reader even as he reminds them that (1) there is a certain inescapable futility and self-centeredness to our work, and (2) we should rejoice in the fact that God uses both Christians and non-Christians to fulfill his purposes. (Translation: Christians don’t have a monopoly on making contributions to the common good.) For those who want to read only one book about the Theology of Work, this one would be an excellent choice. It’s an easy read with lots of substance.

 

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How the Sacred-Secular Divide Influences Attitudes to Business in Asia and Australia

We asked people engaged with BAM around the world to share how they see the sacred-secular divide affecting thinking in the Church in their country – and how this influences engagement of Christians the business sphere.

Perspectives from Asia and Australia

Rod St.Hill – Australia

The sacred-secular divide is alive and well in Australia. A common complaint from Christians business people is, ‘My pastor does not understand me’. Pastors rarely visit their business people at their place of work. There is anecdotal evidence that perhaps 40% of Christians in business are not engaged in their local church because they don’t see church as being relevant to them. Christians in business often feel that the church has a somewhat cynical attitude toward them – ‘You make the profit and hand it over to the church’ as if that will somehow sanctify it. There are also Christians who show hardly any evidence of Christian belief in their business practices.

Yet all is not doom and gloom. There is growing interest in ministries such as Kingdom Investors, founded by businessman Dave Hodgson, who is encouraging business owners to be connected with, and supportive of, their local church and to infuse their businesses with Kingdom principles. Last February, the Global Marketplace Exchange, pioneered by Pastor Sean Morris and Peter Kentley was launched with a consultative meeting near Melbourne. Some 170 leaders from ten ‘domains’, including church and business, gathered to begin working together to transform our nation. In addition there are now at least four Christian university-level institutions that offer degrees that integrate faith and business. There is much to be done to break down the sacred-secular divide, but there are positive signs that God’s people are moving as they are in other nations. Read more

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