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Who do you work for in business? Who do the people in your company work for?
I ask my company’s managers to never think or say, “I work for High Bridge Books & Media.” And Heaven forbid they ever think or say, “I work for Darren Shearer.” Instead, I encourage them to cultivate this perspective: “I work with High Bridge Books & Media, and I work for Jesus.”
This is the foundational principle for cultivating a Christ-centered company: “Whatever you do … do it for the Lord and not for men. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23). A company can only be considered “Christ-centered” to the extent that the people working within the company decide to work for Jesus and not for anyone or anything else. In all of its operations, a Christ-centered company culture promotes the perspective and attitude that Jesus is on the receiving end of everything done in and through the business, which ought to compel us to seek and apply His will for the company.
Jesus is the CEO and owner … but so much more.
Like me, perhaps you’re familiar with the temptation to act one way around the company’s “higher-ups” while acting differently around the company’s other stakeholders. I think this is why I have found it somewhat easier to view Jesus as the head of the company I manage (e.g. CEO, owner, chairman-of-the-board, etc.) than to view him in all the other roles related to the company. This Deistic view of God–the idea that God is so high and lifted up that He’s uninvolved in the most seemingly trivial aspects of a company–explains how we can assume we’re interacting with people one way while simultaneously interacting with God another.
Unlike a human boss, Jesus is omnipresent through the Holy Spirit, interacting with us through every relationship and operation in the company. He is on the receiving end of everything done in and through the company, “For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. ” (Rom. 11:36a).
What would happen if, in addition to viewing Jesus in the most senior roles of the companies we manage, we also operated as though Jesus fills every other position in relation to our companies?
- Entry-level employee,
- IRS agent,
- Minority shareholder,
- Board member,
- Rival company’s CEO,
- Prospective customer/client,
- Coworker’s family member,
- City official,
- Yourself, and
- Anyone else you interact within business.
The ways in which we and the companies we manage relate to each of these types of people is exactly how we and our teams are treating Jesus.
What would happen to our business practices if we truly viewed God as being on the receiving end of everything we do in business … and not just the “big picture” stuff?
What would happen to your accounting practices if you viewed that IRS agent who reviews your company’s tax return as Jesus?
What would happen to our advertising practices if we viewed that impressionable viewer or listener as Jesus?
How would our employee compensation and employee care programs change if we viewed each employee as Jesus?
How much stronger would our quality control be if we viewed each customer as Jesus?
What would happen to our customer service if we viewed that upset customer as Jesus?
Jesus assures us,
“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me … to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.” (Matt. 25:40, 45b)
In different ways, everyone we interact with in business is one of the “least of these.” This is not to minimize the plight of the materially poor among us. Poverty takes many forms as Jesus also tells us that those who think they are rich are actually “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17b). The point is how we treat people in business is exactly how we’re treating Jesus. He is on the receiving end of every thought, word, and deed that flows through the companies we manage.
This perspective and attitude is “the fear of the Lord [which] is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). It’s impossible to truly walk in wisdom in the marketplace without realizing that everything we think, say, and do is ultimately thought, said, and done toward Jesus.
Not only should this put the fear of the Lord in us, but it should also encourage us to realize that we have far more opportunities to honor Jesus in business than perhaps we originally thought.
As we remain aware that Jesus is on the receiving end, we’ll seek Him more fervently for guidance on how to worship and honor Him through our business relationships and practices.
We’ll grow in our awareness that He is working through each person with whom we work to form us and our companies into His image.
You work for Jesus. You work with people.
Your company is simply the context for you and your associates in the marketplace to become more like Jesus, causing awareness of His glory to be revealed throughout the earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).
On this foundational principle, we can build Christ-centered companies.