It it understood that many successful businesses and careers have little or nothing to do with being a Christian; the ones that do well over time have successful business practices like mutual trust, fiscal responsibiiy, and fair value. Of course, these same business practices are also necessary for successful Christian businesses and careers. But there are some principles and practices that help us manage our careers and operate our businesses from a Christian perspective that are worth thinking about.
Regardless of what anyone else does, we should give our businesses and careers to God. David was a king and a military leader who gave his future and his country’s future to a higher authority than himself. David was convinced he needed to depend on God when the odds were against him and even when they were in his favor. Today’s competitive environment may not be as brutal as war but it isn’t particularly friendly; often it is fiercely competitive. David once said, some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Lord our God. David didn’t look for a fight or did he want to expand the nation’s borders, but was an able defender and custodian. David knew he had to depend on God to help him. Others solely trusted in their weaponry and skill. David made use of military armaments, yet he trusted in God. There was just no other way for him.
As Christians, we should not try to utterly defeat our competitors. But we should try to ably compete with them. It is okay to be a formidable competitor. It is disheartening for this author when highly visible and successful public corporations commercially brutalize competing small private businesses and the vendors that support them; often stripping away needed jobs for the middle class, working poor, and the transitional work force. This is very harmful to local communities and lacks economic compassion. This is our decision. And for sure, it’s very important for the people of faith. We don’t need to hurt others to reach our goals.
When we trust God we receive help from God. Jesus helped his disciples feed 5,000 families; the multitude that followed Jesus to the seashore to hear Him teach. The disciples ask Jesus to send them into the town so they could find something to eat because it was getting late in the day. Jesus provocatively replied, they do not need to go away to search for food – you feed them. The disciples first response was, this is unachievable, we have only five loaves of bread and two fishes, what are these among so many? Jesus instructs them, bring the fishes and the loaves to Me. Jesus blessed the bread and ask the disciples to start passing it out in the crowd. Miraculously everyone was fed with baskets of bread left over! God does and can do this kind of thing for us.
There are three lessons from this miracle that can be applied to our businesses and careers. First of all, we must find something for God to bless. If it’s more education or training – then we do it. If it’s cultivating more business relationships – then we do it. If it’s working with colleagues more amicably – then we do it. If it’s creating new initiatives to enhance existing programs and profit centers – then we do it. If we are compelled to start a business or new career – then we do it. If we simply need a job – then we earnestly look for it. This is really important. We must give God something to bless; our own loaves of bread and fishes to offer up to God.
Secondly, we must give what we have to God and stop worrying about what we don’t have. The disciples asked Jesus what are these (the fishes and loaves) among so many. They focused on what they didn’t have – not what they could have, if God is in the picture. Jesus taught the disciples a big lesson when he urged them, give the loves and fishes to me. God can do so much with so little! This miracle was done with so little because the little was given to Jesus. What we have to start with is much less important than our faith and trust in God. It’s that simple.
Thirdly, we must stop messing around and get started. So many business and career minded people of faith never see their aspirations materialize or realize their potential because they wait for everything to line up perfectly before they take even one step in the right direction. The inclination for perfection and inordinate preplanning has kept a lot of talented and gifted people from even getting started. Jesus instructed the disciples to start passing out the food. While they were passing out the bread that God had blessed, it exponentially multiplied in their hands! The best of commercial enterprises and careers start as a creative idea but evolves and matures in our hands and feet. Simply put – we learn along the way. So let’s get started! Not only will we move things along, the psychological value of attaining and attainment are nearly the same.
There are many other attributes we should also consider; not what we usually hear like heightened ambition or believing that we can do anything if we put our mind to it. These are more humanistic qualities. The Christian business or career is a little different; not to say that a healthy dose of ambition and the conviction that what we are tackling can be done, isn’t helpful. It is. But there is more. We need the inward assurance that we are doing what we are meant to do at any given time in life. It was John D. Rockefeller who once said God gave me my business. Rockefeller was a curious chap indeed; yet this aspect of his faith is helpful for us to take notice. This inward assurance is a powerful motivator; more than if we just put our mind to it or have a lot ambition. I’ll take God gave me my business or career – any day!
Here’s some other business and career attributes to briefly mention: diligence, guidance, courage, kindness, and thankfulness. We must have an unflappable work ethic. Success and slothfulness are fair-weather friends. We just can’t be lazy. It may work for a while but not for long; especially when things get stormy. There are no short cuts. Be diligent!
Ask God for guidance. If we listen to the spiritual impressions in our hearts we will get more clarity on what we should be doing, not only regarding the bigger picture but also smaller innovations, adjustments and changes along the way. If we’re serious about partnering with God, He will be serious about partnering with us! We can count on it.
Be courageous. There are few achievements of any real significance without courage. One of this authors favorite verses I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me has been so helpful through the years. David had the courage to confront a violent and vicious opponent. The stakes were high; the aftereffect of failure was enslavement. Success was freedom. David took on the challenge. A challenge that others fearfully shrank from. David and Goliath lined up to battle. David ran toward Goliath with slingshot in hand. He did not assume a standing in place position, nor did he maneuver himself side to side. He courageously ran toward the opposition with alacrity and heart. The big stuff requires this kind of courage.
Be kind. We hear of commercially successful people who are abrasive to vendors, employees, colleagues, partners, and competitors. We are Christians. The workplace is not a place to be mean, authoritative, and difficult to work with. Kindness, cooperation, and helpfulness go along way with those we work for and work with. We should treat others the way we would want to be treated if we were in a similar circumstance. If we do this we will rarely hurt anyone. And if and when we do have to make a tough decision we will be more than fair.
Lastly, we must never forget to be thankful. Jesus healed ten very sick people. As they went on their way only one of them turned around and thanked Him. Let’s be that one!
Joseph Hutchison, Rochester Hills, Michigan, 2020