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Three Practical Steps to Experiencing the Spiritual Potential of Your Business

by Dave Kahle

Almost every Christian businessperson has a sense that there is potential in their businesses or professions to make a greater impact for the Kingdom. Unfortunately, the idea is often too vague and unformed in our minds, and therefore seems overwhelming. With no direction from the local congregation, and all the noise surrounding us from the purveyors of worldly wisdom, it’s no wonder we’re confused.

Here are three specific steps that every Christian businessperson and professional can implement to tip the edge of their basket a bit and allow more of their light to shine in the marketplaces that they inhabit.

1.  Embed prayer more deeply into your routines

When God told us to bring everything to him in prayer, he meant exactly that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

For many of us, the notion of praying, in depth and detail, for every aspect of our business or professional lives is a novel idea. But it is exactly what we are commanded to do. A business is rich with the fodder through which God loves to engage with us. Think of the thousands of decisions that could be informed by a nudge from the Lord:

  • Employee issues – who to hire, who to promote, to whom to give raises, how much and when, who to train, who to discipline, who to encourage, who to terminate.  Just this category alone can keep us on our knees for hours.
  • Customer issues – who to pursue, who to withdraw from, for whom to make concessions, how aggressively to pursue late payments, how close to get to whom, etc.
  • Financial issues – what to charge, should you borrow, how much and from whom, should you sign a lease, etc.
  • Vendor issues – who to buy from, who to pay, who to nurture, who to hold at arm’s length, how much of what to buy.
  • Personal time and priority management – there are a thousand things to do, but not all of them should be done.  How do we effectively allocate and focus our time and energy?

I could go on and on, but you understand the point. Being a responsible person in a business puts you in the middle of thousands of decisions. It’s like playing racquet ball against three people at once – balls are flying at you from every direction, and you must successfully manage them.

The overwhelming challenge of the marketplace these days just naturally drives the committed Christian to prayer. The challenge is to take what is a natural impulse and turn it into a habitual, dedicated routine. Here’s the way some have done that:

a.  Begin each day, on the job, with a dedicated prayer time.

This means you dedicate the first 15 – 30 minutes of your workday to a conversation with God about the challenges of the day.

You may want to walk the floor, greet each employee and see if there is anything for which you can pray for that person.

Or, you may want to take your calendar for the day, note the decisions you’ll need to make, and make that the focus of your prayer.

b.  Find someone else to regularly pray with you at least once a week.

Make it a regularly scheduled event. Certainly, there are some Christians in your organization or sphere of influence who would be eager to pray with you for the business that provides their livelihood.

You may want to make this prayer opportunity available to everyone, and welcome all participants, or you may want to seek out and enlist one or more special people. For years, my customer service manager and I met in my office, early every Monday morning, 20 minutes before the workday began, and lifted up the week’s events to the Lord.

c.  Gather a prayer team, who will commit to praying for the business at least once a week.

Provide them with a weekly list of challenges and upcoming decisions.

Once you commit to this, the members of the prayer team will eventually appear. I have a group of about eight people who have committed to pray for the business on one day each week. I send them a prayer list every Saturday morning, with the expectation that they are lifting my issues up to the Lord. This process of compiling the weekly list keeps me focused on the most important things, forces me to commit to them on paper, and gives me the confidence to know that prayer surrounds all the major decisions and events in the business.

While prayer is an instinctive response to the overwhelming world will live in, by formalizing it and making it a part of your business routines, you move to a higher level of communication with God than if you leave it to the impulses of the moment.

2.  Rewrite your foundational documents, acknowledging God in them

We’ve all heard about the value of creating a vision, mission and values statement for the business or our profession. I suspect that most Christian businesses have such a set of documents. What is often missing, however, is a written, formal acknowledgement of God’s involvement with the business.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32, 33

There is a sense of humility and confidence that comes from the act of acknowledging God’s ownership of the business. The fact that you are in the position you are in whether it be ownership, executive position, sales responsibility, or professional practice, the truth is that you were put there by God’s involvement in your life.

When you acknowledge that, in writing, you take a stand and make a commitment. Everyone who reads those documents, whether they be a part of every new employee orientation, the information pack you give to prospective employers, your website, or posted on the lunchroom wall, will know exactly where you stand.

That requires a bit of humility on your part. By acknowledging God’s ownership and involvement in the business, you naturally give him the credit for whatever success that business has, instead of yourself.

But there is also a sense of freedom and confidence that comes with that. If God is for you, who can be against you?

So, make the issue of the exact wording of these documents a matter for the prayer and prayer team, and then craft the words that seem best to you and inspired by God into your foundational documents.

3.  Work diligently at creating a Christian business culture

Wikipedia defines corporate culture this way:

Organizational culture encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. The organizational culture influences the way people interact, the context within which knowledge is created, the resistance they will have towards certain changes, and ultimately the way they share (or the way they do not share) knowledge. Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members and is a product of factors such as history, product, market, technology, strategy, type of employees, management style, and national culture; culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs and habits.

For the Christian businessperson, the culture of the organization is where the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the principals ooze out into the organization and ultimately influence everyone’s behavior. The principals set the standard.  Culture, when done well, proceeds from the top down.

Here’s a simple approach to get you started. Use this phrase often, “Because I’m a Christian, we are going to…”

This should come as no surprise to anyone, as they already know you are a Christian organization (see #2 above). This language, then, makes the connection between your beliefs and your expectation for everyone’s actions. It gives the glory to God, and when done sincerely and repetitively, will move the company’s attitudes, beliefs and actions to a place that will shine your light more brightly.

  

This article is adapted from a post first published on the Biblical Business blog here.

Dave KahleDave Kahle has been a Bible teacher, elder, house church leader, short-term missionary and Christian executive roundtable leader. For 30 years, he has been an authority on sales and sales systems, having spoken in 47 states and eleven countries. He has authored 13 books, including The Good Book on Business. Sign up for his weekly messages here.

More from Dave at: www.davekahle.com and www.thebiblicalbusiness.com.

 

Book - Good Book on Business

Have you ever thought your business was meant to be much more than just a means to make money?

Biblical businesses are God’s first choice as the means to bless mankind, build character, and develop faith.  They hold the solution for much of what ails our economy and our culture.

Join Dave Kahle as he explores what the Bible has to say about businesses and your role in leading a kingdom oriented business.  You’ll uncover Biblical truths that you may have never seen before. Your views on business will never be the same.

Find your place in the movement and unlock the full potential of your business. 

Buy The Good Book on Business on Amazon

 

 

 

 

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

 

Are We Drifting? The Dangers of Secularization for a BAM Company

by David Skews

The Problem

While we can talk about the dangers of “mission drift” or the “secularization of BAM businesses”, I would argue that it is not really the mission that drifts, nor do businesses, come to think about it!

Recently, while talking to the owners of a failed start-up I was advised that the reason the “business failed” was that there was not enough customers to buy their products. I mused, “How was that the business’s fault?” You may accuse me of being too particular about the use of language. However, our use of language can sometimes be a mask that causes us to deceive ourselves. Sometimes it is easier to blame “something”, anything, before fully examining ourselves.

I would argue that any “drift” or “secularization” for a BAM company is more likely to be our drift from our personal relationship with God and His people, over any external influence.

So why did that business fail? It would help if we could apply the “5 Whys” method for getting to the core issue. We can apply this method anywhere, whether it to our mission, our business, our marriage, church, school etc. Some people ask 6 or even 7 whys, like I have here:

  • Why did the business fail? (failed to plan)
  • Why did the market move? (markets do)
  • Why did you not see that before? (failed to research)
  • Why did you not do the research? (failed to appreciate the importance of research)
  • Why did you feel it was not necessary? (sales, quality, environment, staff were taking my time)
  • Why did you fail to prioritize? (failed to take time for the important things)
  • Why did you not do the important things? (failed to balance life)

Read more

Finding the Right Business Model or Being the Right Business Leader?

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we head into summer we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past 6 months. Below is the “Staff Pick” for January to July 2017.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Dave Kahle

“Is there one business model that you would recommend to a budding entrepreneur?”

That was the question a young man asked me recently. I reflected for a moment over the past 25 years, and answered this way:

“No. I’ve worked with over 500 businesses, and in that pack there were lots of different business models. What I’ve seen is that the model is less important than the implementation on the part of the company’s leadership.”

Let me explain. It is, of course, possible to have a flawed business model. But, honestly, I have only seen one or two of those, where, no matter what the leadership does, the business is not going to survive. It’s just a bad idea.

These are usually the result of people who are passionate about a product or idea. Unfortunately, that passion displaces common sense, and they ride that idea until it has siphoned their resources and depleted their energy.

The world is not full of bad business models. On the other hand, it is crammed with models that can and do succeed, providing the leadership is effective.

The path toward success is rarely formed by the business model. Far more important are the skills and character of the leadership. Drop a highly skilled, high-character entrepreneur into any model, in any market, and watch as he/she leads that company to growth, prosperity and market leadership.

The ultimate path for business success is far more about improving yourself than it is about finding the right product, market or model. Read more

Finding the Right Business Model or Being the Right Business Leader?

by Dave Kahle

“Is there one business model that you would recommend to a budding entrepreneur?”

That was the question a young man asked me recently. I reflected for a moment over the past 25 years, and answered this way:

“No. I’ve worked with over 500 businesses, and in that pack there were lots of different business models. What I’ve seen is that the model is less important than the implementation on the part of the company’s leadership.”

Let me explain. It is, of course, possible to have a flawed business model. But, honestly, I have only seen one or two of those, where, no matter what the leadership does, the business is not going to survive. It’s just a bad idea.

These are usually the result of people who are passionate about a product or idea. Unfortunately, that passion displaces common sense, and they ride that idea until it has siphoned their resources and depleted their energy.

The world is not full of bad business models. On the other hand, it is crammed with models that can and do succeed, providing the leadership is effective.

The path toward success is rarely formed by the business model. Far more important are the skills and character of the leadership. Drop a highly skilled, high-character entrepreneur into any model, in any market, and watch as he/she leads that company to growth, prosperity and market leadership.

The ultimate path for business success is far more about improving yourself than it is about finding the right product, market or model. Read more

How Stories Build Company Culture: 5 Business Leaders Share

We asked 5 professionals and company owners engaged in business as mission to share how they have experienced stories being used to build company culture:

 

We often use stories of our past experiences to show empathy and encourage our staff.  When we feel they are having a hard time on a project or feel uninspired by their current workload, I tell them about times in my past of how I have felt the same, but sticking through it has helped me grow and become who I am today. We have a family-like company culture and we want our staff to feel their boss or manager is not a distant authoritarian figure but a father/mother or big brother/sister figure whom they can respect yet find comfort with. – Yumi, Southeast Asia

 

Story telling from THE book we follow has certainly been a way forward to introducing true freedom in our company. We tell stories from the Bible each and everyday in all our business units and this also helps with setting culture! Life stories are also shared as women are brave enough, this then becomes a wonderful way of talking about freedom – we often use the term “freedom journey”.  Life stories also are powerful when recruiting and encouraging other women to leave “the trade”. When they are told about women who have managed to do that, and the transformation that can happen as a result, that is a powerful inspiration to do the same. – Kara, South Asia

Read more

Painful Events, Stories and Company Culture

by Dave Kahle

Stories can be powerful tools to shape behavior and dramatically communicate expectations. Wise executives continually seek for opportunities to capture and then relate a story that supports and illustrates the organization’s culture. If the story can be tied to a piece of physical support, then it’s even better. Here’s an example.

In the days before email, we had a marketing program that consisted of developing an individualized prescription for a series of marketing letters for each prospect we encountered. We would customize and send these monthly.  Thus, one prospect would get a series of letters based on the size and type of his business, and another prospect would get a different series. This was the backbone of our marketing effort, and we produced hundreds of customized, first-class letters each week.

For reasons that I can’t remember, I reached into the wastebasket and retrieved a crumpled up letter. It was one of our prescription letters that had been sent back to us. There were typos and obvious errors in the first paragraph, including the incorrect spelling of the prospect’s name. The recipient had circled the errors and hand-written this message across the top: “Dave, if you can’t produce a letter without errors, how can you possibly help me?” He had mailed the letter, with his notes, back to us. Read more

The Power of a Story: Orality in Business

By Howard Partridge

While attending a very high level, exclusive leadership training, we were taken to the largest independent advertising agency in the U.S.

We were taken on a tour of the massive, modern office space inhabited by over 700 employees that included a gym that would rival any local health club, nap rooms, and most importantly the large, open stairwell that connected all the floors of this modern building.

The stairwell is the one and only place that all 760 team members can all be together. There is a catwalk that is prominently suspended in the middle of the open stairwell where the company news is shared. This is where potential clients are brought to be introduced, it’s where the good and the bad is shared. And, this is where stories are told.

In order to effectively tour the company, our group of about a hundred was broken into small groups of ten people. A staff member named Emily led our tour. She told story after story about their culture, why they do what they do, and why it was important. I was impressed that she was so passionate about the stories, the culture and the meaning behind everything they do. Read more

Three Stories: How BAM Goals and People Goals Fit Together

We asked company leaders to share how their goals as a BAM company fit with their goals for their people, and how that influenced their business planning and development.

Three BAM practitioners share from very different industries on how their strategy for their staff connects with their overall strategy to be a Kingdom-focused company.

IT Company in South Asia

We work hard to manage expectations upfront that the company exists only because of Jesus and has been dedicated to bringing glory to God. So 100% of our staff are aware of our high level BAM goals in that sense, but mostly just the around 15% of believers connect fully. The other 85% connect to our Kingdom goals of renewing our industry, providing meaningful work, raising up leaders worth following, and so on.

We spent years passionately praying for, discussing and trying to understand God’s purpose for the business. Saying that a business exists to make money is like saying I exist to breathe oxygen and keep blood flowing through my body to stay alive. We all have a purpose and calling as individuals and I believe we do as businesses as well.

We continue to seek and refine our purpose. It is an evolving thing with God revealing new layers and aspects, again, just like us as individuals. So in our early startup phase we spent an absurd amount of time navel-gazing, trying to understand the “WHY” and our employees saw this and see it today. They know they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Most of them acknowledge that Jesus is an important part of the company even if they don’t agree or like that. They know we don’t have it all figured out and fail often. But they have seen the process of us passionately seeking God, doing our best to follow God and simply asking them to, “Follow us as we follow Jesus”. Read more

Interview with Two Business Leaders: Developing People in Your Company

Dream with me. You opened your business two years ago. Your cash flow situation is simply amazing. Clients are knocking down your door to give you business. The surrounding community is praising your efforts in meeting their felt needs. Local leaders see your business as an asset to the city. You have plenty of time to put your feet up due to your amazing staff. You have all the right people doing all the right jobs.

OK, now you can wake up. That was just a dream! It’s actually pretty much every business owner’s dream.

How do you begin to make that dream a reality? Whether you are a new business owner beginning to write your plan, or a seasoned BAMer re-evaluating your plans, don’t forget to include ‘people development’. Your people are potentially the most valuable asset you have.

Jim Collins famously wrote about making sure you have “the right people on the bus“. While this is absolutely true, I believe, having a plan to further develop those people is also critical. With a focused people development plan some of your “right” people will become even more “right” – more than you could have imagined.

We interviewed two business leaders to find out about their approach to people development. We asked them each the same three questions about how they intentionality grow their people and what they have learned about staff development. Read more

Hiring: What to Think About at the Business Planning Stage

by David Skews

An organisation may consider many things as of particular value to their business – such as, reputation, market exposure, industry leadership, intellectual property etc – but the one thing on which all of these depend is top quality staff.

Whether one or many people, your team have the potential to make or break your business. Consequently, identifying, recruiting and retaining the best people is a top priority as soon as a business begins to grow beyond a one-man band.

Many businesses are started by just one person with the drive and enthusiasm to grow the business. Invariably those people also possess other business skills, but never every skill that is needed. Consequently, brutally honest self-assessment is needed to identify significant shortcomings, which will then help in deciding the additional skills needed.

Such self assessment will inevitably require input from other trusted and respected people. Some shortcomings are best addressed by outsourcing tasks, which can be a lot less hassle than employing people directly. However, eventually, it becomes necessary to actually hire people to fill the gaps.

When hiring, it’s good to have some firm priorities in mind before interviewing. For example, integrity should always be at the top of the list. The most experienced and capable candidate will become a serious liability if they cannot be trusted. Absolute integrity can never be guaranteed but it should be a primary aim. Read more