There is a spectrum on which Christian businesses and Christian business people can be placed to identify their relative position regarding the degree to which “Christianity” influences their business. See where you fall on the spectrum.
On one end of the spectrum is “compartmentalized” Christianity. It starts with the idea that Christianity is primarily about church and that business and church just don’t mix. The two are compartmentalized. This is the view that is often expressed by the traditional institutional church. Dividing the world into “sacred” and “secular,” it holds that everything sacred happens within the province of the church. Business exists in the secular world and so has no relationship to Christianity, other than to fund the institutional church system.
The next place on the spectrum is occupied when the Christian business person accepts the idea that as a Christian, he ought to conduct his business with some personal Christian qualities: integrity, honesty, fairness. I call them ‘ethical’ Christian business people. They attend church on Sundays, get involved in the boards and programs, and believe that their Christian faith is primarily expressed through their church involvement. Their on-the-job Christianity is more defined by what they don’t do than what they do. For example, they may refuse to join others in a drinking session at an industry conference, or avoid taking customers to strip clubs. They may avoid risqué jokes, and be careful of their language. When asked about their spiritual journey, they talk about their involvement in the institutional church.
Many Christian business people never proceed beyond this point, believing that it marks the intersection of their faith with their business. At this point, the institutional church system, and all its paradigms and pressures, becomes an obstacle to spiritual growth, because it keeps its proponents centered on it.
The next position is occupied by those who come to the point where they see that Christian principles can be applied to their business, not just their personal behavior. They begin to apply principles of sowing and reaping, for example, as well as other Christian principles as they become aware of them. They begin to see their business as a money-making entity that generates funds for church and mission work, and may begin to give out of the profits of the business. At this point, they may join a Christian business organization, like CBMC, and begin to network with other Christian business people. They begin to believe that God is interested in their business, not just their church involvement. Their prayer is, “God, please help me with my business.”
In the next position, the Christian business person understands that God is interested in them and their business. This is a deeper level of understanding. They begin to take business issues to Him in prayer, and think of God as “partner” in their business. Their prayer is “God, please partner with me in this business.”
As they move deeper, they come to the realization that God is not a partner, He owns the business. Their perspective shifts from “God, help me with this business.” To “God, help me be a steward of your business.” They spend more time in prayer, they seek God’s direction through the scriptures and in prayer. At this point, they may seek out a support group of other Christian business people, and join a Truth@Work group, or some other local resource.
The last stage is reached when they realize that the business which they steward is an expression of God’s Kingdom. They begin to see that it has potential to impact people far more deeply than just in the money that it generates. They begin to see themselves as “pastors” of a slice of the Lord’s church – their business and the employees, vendors, customers and other stake-holders in it. While they understand the need to be good at the business, they now see every decision through the viewpoint of its spiritual implications. They seek the leading of the Holy Spirit daily. They may assemble a team of intercessors for their business. Their mission is to extend the Kingdom into the worlds that they inhabit. They understand that they are anointed for their position as ministers of business.
Where are you on this spectrum?
1. Business and the church don’t mix. One is secular, one is sacred.
2. I try to live by personal Christian principles.
3. I try to instill Christian principles into my business and career.
4. I believe God has a plan for my business, and my career.
5. I believe God owns my business and my career, and I am just a steward of it.
6. My business is my church, and I have pastoral responsibilities for this slice of God’s kingdom. I am anointed by God for the ministry of business.