by Michael Thiessen
I’m willing to bet that if you own a business, it’s not a huge mega-corporation with billions – or even millions – in revenue. You probably own a fairly small business (or might work for one). Most people would probably guess that a large share of businesses have fewer than 20 employees, but did you know that the number is 90%?
When you run a small business, your community is vital to your success. Your customers, suppliers, employees, and even your competitors, are all part of your community. The first church in Acts had a strong sense of community, which we emulate to this day in our own churches. When others need help, we provide it, whether it is financial, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise.
Communities are part of what makes us strong. But our community doesn’t stop at the doors of the church that we attend on Sunday mornings. How can we be good stewards of the business God has given to us, using it as a platform to build strong relationships with our community?
We can give employees time off to volunteer, we can give discounted services to churches and other non-profits, or we can use the equipment or expertise from our business to help others in the community. I could probably list off a few dozen more, and I’m guessing you could too. Instead of spending time on those fairly obvious avenues, let’s focus instead on how we can connect with others in our industry.
Challenging the Status Quo
The way that her business started was reminiscent of Jonah’s story, but Trish has been using her psychotherapy practice as a way to reinvent her industry from the inside out.
This time, using the Bible.
“Something as simple as doing my schedule looks different because I see Jesus taking time for rest and Sabbath, so from the beginning that was built into the business. Instead of thinking, “This is the way it’s always been done in the therapy world”, I think, “Why is it done this way and should it be done a different way?”
We know that sin has entered our world and tainted everything that we do. Yet, in our busy lives, we often forget that sin has also affected everything in the business world. The way we schedule ourselves, as Trish points out, is a great example. It is easy to get lured into the mind-set that working longer hours is always better, that it’s the only thing standing between us and success. But God shows us in Genesis that it’s good to rest, and that we need rest in order to do good work.
The gospel that Jesus taught so often went directly against the commonly accepted wisdom. As Christians, we know that this gospel is better than what the world teaches. So why not teach others in your industry the better way of doing things, and lead by example?
Ministering to Others
Doing the work in a better, more effective way isn’t great if it comes at the expense of our relationships with others. Trish also finds ways to connect with other therapists in her industry.
“I’m to minister not only to the hurting that find their way to my door, but also to the therapists and other business professionals I meet during my journey. My job is to let my light shine before others so that they may see my good works and give glory to my Father who is in heaven.”
Simply put, we can share the gospel with the other professionals in our industry. These are likely people you already have a relationship with, people that respect you for your expertise or ability. They’re willing to listen to you speak, not only when you’re swapping war stories, but also when you shift into more serious topics. This gives you an awesome opportunity to listen, speak into their lives, and pray for them.
Being a business owner – especially if you are a Christian – can be a lonely experience. Friends who don’t own a business don’t understand struggles with payroll or making sales, and your non-Christian business friends may not completely understand your desire to be perfectly honest in your dealings.
A third way of building relationships within your community is to find other like-minded Christians in business. There are great organizations that meet regularly, often for breakfast, to discuss things relating to faith and business. If you cannot find one, why not direct that enterprising spirit of yours towards forming your own group? I’m sure there are many others who would love to join you.
Melissa Mather is a business coach, and this is exactly what she did.
“I worked with a Christian business coach, and now formed a Mastermind group with 3 other women who are also believers. These communities of incredible women have helped me stay centred on what matters most as I build my business and have allowed me to stay focused on growing my business in a way that’s pleasing to God and in alignment with His purpose.”
Melissa brings up a great point here. Finding advice or materials to help you learn how to build your business isn’t hard, but almost none of it is from a Christian perspective. That’s not an inherently bad thing, but without even realizing it, we can get pulled into a very worldly way of thinking. It takes a conscious, deliberate effort to process through all of this advice from a biblical standpoint.
Melissa knows this, and that’s why she has gathered a group of strong, Christian, business women to help her navigate through all of the challenges she faces while running her business.
I think most people would agree on the importance of community, especially within the church. However, that community extends past the church doors and into the city. As business owners, God has given us an incredible platform with which we can build relationships in our community and give back.
How are you building relationships in your community? Perhaps you’re already great at this, but maybe you need to take that next step and figure out how your business can be more involved in your community.
Read Trish’s full interview here: An Awkward Name is All You Need
Read Melissa’s full interview here: Moving Forward in Faith – Even When You Aren’t Ready
Michael Thiessen is a reclusive software engineer by day, but by night (and sometimes early morning) he interviews Christians about how their faith radically changes the way they do business, and writes about business from a biblical perspective at Marketplace Disciples.
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