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.
Dave 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.
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