Called to Bring Servant Leadership in the Marketplace?

As we begin a new year, we are posting some ‘foundational’ material on our biblical foundations for business as mission and how we respond to God’s call in each of our individual lives and circumstances.

by Peter Shaukat

Christians are called by God to bring servant leadership in the marketplace.  There is critical need for servant leadership in the world today and this is especially true of the marketplace where so much of the world’s agenda and the pace for development is set. The marketplace can and should be a primary context for God’s redemptive action.

Although this need to bring servant leadership is not confined to those called to business as mission, it is vital for BAMers to get to grips with our leadership role in the marketplace.

Psalm 78 verse 70 tells us that God chose David to be his servant leader, taking him from tending to sheep to being a shepherd for His people Israel. Verse 72 describes David’s leadership: ‘David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them’. Servant leaders must conduct themselves with integrity, and they must also be competent.

This represents two spheres for servant leadership in a business context: our moral leadership and our operational leadership.

Moral leadership does not depend on title, role or profession. We all can and should bring moral leadership in any situation. Moral leadership is drawing on biblical ethics in each situation and applying the relevance of God’s truth into our business life. It is building relationships of trust, dignity and reconciliation. It is something we walk and model as we create an environment around us that reflects the Kingdom of God.  If we are a business owner or manager we will have a particular opportunity to think carefully through the principles and values that we want to permeate our company or team. However, we all have a divine calling to bring moral leadership, regardless of any official position.

Operational leadership is exercised through our professional competence and excellence within our formal duties and responsibilities. Business involves a complex set of interlocking components all requiring skill and competency. We need to ask ourselves: Are we building our skill set? Do we have the necessary skills within our team to succeed?  Not everyone will be the entrepreneur, we need many kinds of ‘business builders’ to make their contribution in business as mission. Each component of a business enterprise requires Christ-honoring servant leadership.

Unfortunately, we don’t always have a good reputation in this area of servant leadership. We should not ‘dabble’ at business or take the average road as BAM practitioners. Professional excellence is our primary sphere of ministry. The world will look at our operational leadership first!

We can bring servant leadership through our attitudes and actions in a competitive environment. We can bring servant leadership through the value and quality of the goods and services we are offering. We need to ask ourselves: What are we going to produce and why? How do we see that impacting people? We need businesses that will add value and quality to people’s lives. We can bring servant leadership through our employment practices, how we treat people, how we hire and fire and deal with problems. We can bring servant leadership through our financial principles and practices and the outcomes of our financial operations.

We need to ask ourselves ‘What does God want of me in this situation?’ and be faithful in that. We also need to cast off false humility and strive to be excellent in everything we do. Keeping the focus on ‘excellence’ and ‘reach’ in the right balance will be key for our business as mission enterprise. Our aim should be to make our best contribution in the widest sphere of influence possible.  As we do that we will surely make an impact for the Kingdom of God. We will be salt and light, bringing a transforming influence into our communities.

First published on the business as mission resource website in an earlier iteration of the BAM blog, prior to January 2015.

Peter Shaukat is the founder of a global investment fund with a portfolio of business as mission enterprises located in the Arab World and Asia. He has lived and worked in a professional and business capacity throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and North America for over 30 years.  Peter has been a pioneer in the business as mission movement. He currently speaks and consults on business as mission all over