This article was written by Jim Miley and published by Crossroads Professional Coaching
I get this question a lot; “What does it mean to build a business upon your Christian values?”
Christian small business people often wrestle with how to integrate their faith life into their business life. With nearly every endeavor, we encounter all sorts of people and circumstances that may seem to blur the lines between our Christian faith walk and the ways of the world.
What Does Scripture Say About the Ways of the World?
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
A principle I’ve found critical to grasp and embrace is that many things can be true at the same time. Meaning we often create conflict in our own mind that doesn’t really exist when making decisions.
In the context of faith in business, this conflict often appears as people feeling that making sound business decisions involving things like sales, profit, physical assets, leadership, etc are somehow contrary to their Christian faith. It’s as though they have to compartmentalize their faith life to outside of work hours and they do the same with faith where never the worlds collide.
Maintaining multiple lives each with separate compartments is difficult and stressful.
Applying the principle that many things can be true at the same time; it is true that God wants you to manage sales, profit and assets of your business well. God also wants you to remain focused upon Him as your provider and not have an unhealthy love for things of the world. It is the “love of money” that God despises; not you being a competent money manager who operates a successful business. Note in the passage from 1 John above, it is the “lust of it” that John warns against.
To build a successful business upon a foundation of your Christian values is not in conflict with sound Biblical principle unless you make it your idol and lust after success according to worldly terms. Two things can be true at the same time; you can glorify God in all that you do and lead a successful business by God’s measure and terms the world understands.
What are Christian Values in my Business?
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Do things for the right reasons, with the right motivation. Test your business life against whether you are “walking in the light as He is in the light.” Pray for wisdom and clarity in your business. Jesus was a carpenter and Paul a tentmaker; there is honor is having a trade and producing goods or services that people value enough to pay for them. Do all your work as you are working for the Lord; whatever your work may be.
“Walking in the light as He is in the light” according to 1 John is to love your brother and extend grace just as you have received love and grace.
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
Many things can be true at the same time.
You can want to walk in the light; but, not actually act lovingly toward your brothers and sisters. Often we experience others walking in darkness in the workplace and are tempted to respond in kind. So it is common for us to desire that our faith be our foundation in all that we do while our behaviors might not reflect our desire to glorify God. What do we do?
Keep compassion for the people front and center in your decisions. Work to reconcile the impact of your decisions across both the human needs and the worldly business needs. Both needs are real at the same time. All business leaders face this challenge. Not all business leaders put the hard work in of balancing the human needs with the hard needs of the business.
The equation will not always work out neatly. Your call in building your business on a foundation of your Christian values is to always consider and pray on these things though your decisions and actions.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God already knows you are going to stumble; He knows you are not perfect; recognizing and confessing that you have both faith in Christ and have sinned are often both true. Let Christ carry your burdens at work by not falling for the self-deception that you should be perfect and not make mistakes.
When, not if, you make mistakes, bring them to Jesus in confession. Confess your prideful nature and let the Holy Spirit guide you to actions that glorify God. Pray in repentance and seek a healthy resolution.
What I often encounter in business leaders who are struggling with reconciling their faith and work lives is they have built themselves a prison of not being able to confess mistakes. That is a sin born out of pride. News flash: God’s not the only one who knows you’re not perfect… your work associates are quite aware.
Your Christian Faith is a Business Asset
There is no conflict between leading a successful business and your Christian faith. Many things can be true at the same time. You can live your faith 24 hours a day while you make sound business decisions that care for the people around you.
You will face challenges where there are consequences for people that at times don’t make you or others happy. Making everyone you meet happy is not consistent with the Christian life.
Walking in the light as He is in the light, praying to Him for our wisdom and confessing our sins to Him that He renews us by our faith is the Christian life. Pray over your decisions and business circumstances constantly that you test everything against the tenets of your faith. Guard yourself against worldly deception that might trick you into chasing idols at the expense of your brothers and sisters around you.
What better asset could there be than a leader who places the highest value on the hearts of their employees while assuring competent stewardship of the business overall?