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Integrating Spiritual Impact Through Company Values

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Psalm 127:1-2 NIV)

I would be hesitant to create a separate plan that speaks to spiritual impact within my business, rather I would look at how every aspect of my business is structured and operated to provide the space for spiritual impact to occur. It’s my belief that corporate culture and how culture is articulated and modeled daily creates the opportunity for spiritual impact to occur within your organization. The Bible is clear in expressing that the world will know followers of Christ by our fruit – fruit is manifested through actions.

Integrating Spiritual Impact through Values

When you think of spiritual impact within your business you are really speaking to the culture of the environment and how culture is lived out daily between management, employees, customers and vendors. At the core of culture are the values which drive your organization. How those values are communicated within and without the organization establish the foundation for spiritual impact. Your values represent your philosphical views as well as well as your organizational priorities and sense of purpose. Your values will directly impact your mission, goals and objectives. What will be key is understanding and defining how these values integrate into the daily work life of your employees. Read more

How to Approach a Spiritual Impact Plan for Your Business

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

Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

A business plan is intended to help you work through the key issues you will face in running your business and should include all of the factors that have critical importance. It should addresses the design of the product, distribution, manufacture, finance, marketing, purchasing, and capitalization. It should also address how all of these business functions fit in to the work God is doing.

The spiritual impact of the business is one of the key objectives for a BAM business and as such it ought to be integrated in planning right from the beginning. Much like marketing or distribution, you can’t possibly have all the answers when you start to plan, and likely you won’t have many of the right questions either, but as you flesh out your vision of the business you and your partners will see questions that need to be answered which drive you to find answers.  And in finding those answers you will discover deeper questions. That’s the process that moves a good plan forward. Read more

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball: Resolving Business Tensions

by David Skews

Tensions tend to arise when we take our eye off the ball. We need to be constantly asking the questions, Why are we here? Why are we doing what we are doing?

Because we are in business and are employing business methods, it is easy to allow our motivations to become aligned with the world’s motivations, e.g. to make profit for its own sake or only increase shareholder value. There may be nothing inherently wrong with these goals but they do not reflect the primary aims of a BAM business. The focus should be on the benefits generated for people and for pleasing God, which then results in profits and shareholder value.  When our motivations become hijacked, our priorities become distorted and tensions arise, particularly between stakeholders.

Specific actions we have found to be valuable in combating these dangers include:

Clearly define the mission, vision, values and objectives

Spend time to ensure your mission, vision, values and objectives are all very clearly and precisely defined and documented. The idea is that when tensions, arguments or disagreements arise, these clearly defined statements become the arbiters against which differing views can be evaluated. For this reason, woolly definitions are worse than useless since they are open to being interpreted and reinterpreted in different ways to suit and support whatever arguments are being put forward. It is worthwhile revisiting these definitions on a fairly regular basis, first to tighten them up where they have been found wanting and secondly to keep them at the front of people’s minds and avoid them gathering dust on the shelf. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Tensions in Integrating Business and Mission

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am feeling some tensions as I begin to integrate mission and business goals together in my business operations. What tensions have you felt and how have you overcome them? What practical tips or principles have you found helpful?

~ Tense in Tashkent

Dear Tense,

This is a great question and a common one. You are in good company!

First, let’s think through where the tensions may be coming from. For example, if your business partners or key managers are not believers or do not understand Kingdom Business that creates one set of tensions. Or, if you are burdened with the hangover of the “sacred-secular divide” that creates an entirely different set of tensions. Another source of tension is simply not being sure how to do solid business planning with a missions or kingdom purpose. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Hiring and Training for IT Companies

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am hiring in a more deprived, less developed context, how do I find the right people with an aptitude for IT? Any other tips and ideas you have for hiring and staff training?

~ IT Starter-upper

Dear Starter-upper,

I think there are seven keys to finding the right people with an aptitude for IT in an underdeveloped country:

  1.           Keep relationships primary
  2.           Share your motivation
  3.           Develop a very close Friend
  4.           Be a close friend to Christian expats and their NGOs
  5.           Know the owners of other local IT companies
  6.           Serve the head of the IT department at local education institutions
  7.           Empower nationals to hire other employees

I co-founded an application software company in the USA in 1991. We’ve been ‘impact sourcing’ programming jobs in Afghanistan since 2007. We currently have six programmers in Kabul helping maintain and customize our application.

My journey to Afghanistan began in 1978 as a college Senior. In August of that year, I felt that God called me to business, missions and Afghanistan. The first two calling unfolded immediately after graduation. I had to wait 24 years for Afghanistan. Read more

Things to Think About While You are Sowing

Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?

This is a very important question, one that leads to some other questions and observations:

  • How do you know if there is fruit?
  • Why am I not as successful as others?
  • Things to think about while sowing

Let’s talk about each of these in turn:

How do you know if there is fruit?

One of the problems with coming from the West is that we are often too short-term results oriented. This is especially true when we apply a cause-and-effect mentality to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not up to us to dictate what the work of Holy Spirit will do – we certainly must do our best in sowing and cultivating and praying but in the end we must give it over to the Lord to grow the fruit. We must do all we can in ‘preparing the soil and planting the seeds’ and let the Holy Spirit work on the person’s heart. Read more

No Such Thing as Instant Fruit: Faithfulness in Business

Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?

Instant milk. That’s how a Brazilian friend recently portrayed the challenge of how our contemporary church culture often trains, and equips us to think about, and plan for results. We mix the powder with the water and voila – we have instant, pat-yourself-on-the-back results. In our instant-everything society, this is how we approach our lives, including ministry and discipleship. The ‘we need numbers for our next board meeting’ mentality, and our leaders ask the questions which help us formulate our approach: How many prayed the prayer, how many attend your fellowship, how many did you baptize? We’ve taken it so far as to expect it is the responsibility of the institutional Church to go make disciples, rather than the mandate given to each of us. We speak in terms of how wide rather than how deep. If we can’t quickly quantify our efforts, then we cannot justify our budgets, or in certain cases even our cross-cultural existence. The danger is that we focus on a formula to acquire souls and are driven by the fear of not reaching our goal, rather than the Spirit of the living God.

Those listed in the ‘hall of fame’ in Hebrews 11 were remembered as having walked in faith – even though they all had failures on their journeys, they were counted as faithful. Yet, they walked, never being assured of what they would see, they only had certainty of their call. They couldn’t focus on the daily bumps in the road and twists and turns in their path, which many times led them astray. They had to keep their eyes on the ultimate prize. Jim Elliot and his companions never lived to see the amazing movement in the lives of the Huaorani people, that was in the timing of God’s plan, not man’s. After tireless work, and despite failing health, William Wilberforce only learned three days before his death of the abolition of slavery in England. The Moravian Church, the oldest Protestant denomination, started a continuous 100-year prayer movement that resulted in the first significant wave of Protestant missionaries being sent to the world. The originators of that movement never experienced the incredible fruit that resulted. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Should I Shut My Business?

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?

~ In Two Minds

Dear In Two Minds,

I think this is far too simplistic a question. The most obvious oversimplification is “not seeing spiritual fruit”. This begs at least two continuation questions:

What is meant by ‘spiritual fruit’?

Who has the right to demand to ‘see’ fruit and on what timescale?

In response to the first question, the book Fruitfulness on the Frontline by Mark Greene recognises six distinct forms of spiritual fruit, namely:

  • Modelling godly character
  • Making good work
  • Ministering grace and love
  • Moulding Culture
  • Mouthpiece for truth and justice
  • Messenger of the gospel

In contrast to these six, many people would define spiritual fruit as the number of people who have committed their lives to Christ as Saviour. This is fine as far as it goes, but we have to remember that Christ’s disciples are responsible for preaching the gospel and for making disciples. The miraculous transformation between those two is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit and we must never attempt to usurp that responsibility. Read more

Is My Business Going to Be Fruitful This Year? Ask Me in 24 Years

by David Stone

What is the great divide? We categorize certain activities as sacred and others as secular. Orphanage ministry or business activity. Sacred or secular? We are still stuck in the divide!

On a recent trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, I was visiting with a small expat short-term missions team on outreach. Two of the team members felt called to business AND missions. I inquired about their business AND missions activity on outreach. They said they had researched (via the internet) Micro-Enterprise Loan organizations in Nepal for a local Business As Mission company. The BAM company is fighting sex trafficking at the source – the families.

The BAM company wants to provide economic opportunity to keep the families from selling their daughters. The BAM strategy includes opening up new trekking routes into the region. That would require hostels and cafes on the routes. Local families can start businesses that would provide an economic alternative to selling their daughters. The new businesses may require small loans, and they need to know what local lending organization are a good fit.

The two young missionaries identified one local Micro-Enterprise Lending company that warranted further consideration. The following dialogue took place. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Equal Pay

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

Have you got any advice for me concerning HR issues that involve a clash of cultural or Biblical values? I want to pay my workers equally for doing the same job and in Nepal where I run my business, men and women don’t usually receive equal pay. It’s not so much an ethical dilemma for me, but a practical question about how I can approach this well. How do I best communicate and lead my Nepali team (managers and workers) through this issue?

~ Hiring in the Himalayas

Dear Hiring,

I want to humbly submit that the issue here runs deeper than that of pay equality, I believe the root of this issue speaks to gender equality within the workplace and whether we as Christ followers believe it is a biblical value that we are charged to uphold. As a woman who has had a long career in the workplace, I have to say my experience has not always been positive, even with my male co-workers of faith. As people conducting business in a second culture, by all means we must be culturally sensitive, but we must recognize the mandates of our Lord have been corrupted by culture, and we know Jesus came to make all things new. To me, one of the most personal personifications of this ideal was in His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jews did condescend to speak with Samaritans in public, and male Jews were rabbinically prohibited from speaking with women in public to eliminate opportunity for gossip. Yet this beautiful narrative provides a clear example of how He wants us to step outside the boundaries of culture to engage with our world in a restorative manner.

Our lives and how we operate our businesses should speak into the lives of our employees in ways they have never experienced; to lift them up, to value them for their contribution to the business, to recognize their inherent worth as uniquely created and specifically gifted individuals, and thus move them towards reconciliation to the Lord they do not yet know, but whom they can experience through you and your example. How else can we give an answer for the hope that is within us, if our lives and our businesses do not model the life of our redeemer?  We know that in Him we are all equal, thus in our business we must make every attempt to live out that principle. Read more