It is understood that there are many successful businesses and careers that have little or nothing to do with being a Christian; they are successful because they practice and encourage mutual trust, fiscal responsibility, and fair value. Of course, these same business practices are also necessary for successful Christian businesses and careers. Yet, there are some principles and practices that help us manage our careers and businesses from a Christian perspective that are worth thinking about and will give us an opportunity to be more successful.
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 is not as brutal as war but it isn’t always 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 of his homeland. David depended on God to help him. Others solely trusted in their weaponry and skill. David made use of military armaments, yet he also trusted in God. There was no other way for him.
When we trust God we receive help from God. This is another good example of what God can do for us when we trust Him: Jesus helped his disciples feed 5,000 hungry families. These were those that had been following Jesus to hear him teach. The disciples ask Jesus to send them into a near by town so they could find something to eat. Jesus let the disciples know they did not need to go searching for food. Jesus asked the disciples if they had any food. They responded that they only had five loaves of bread and two fishes. Knowing that it was clearly not enough, they said “what are these among so many?” Jesus asked them to bring the fishes and the loaves to Him. Jesus blessed the bread. Miraculously the five loaves of bread were transformed into enough bread to feed everyone. There was even some bread left over! God does and can do this kind of thing for us. He multiplies our efforts when we depend on him. It’s really that simple.
There are three more lessons from this miracle that apply to our businesses and careers. First of all, we must have 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 want a new career – then find out how to do it. If we need a good job – then we earnestly look for it. We must give God something to bless, like the loaves of bread the disciples gave to Jesus.
Secondly, we must give what we have to God and stop worrying about what we don’t have or can’t do. We do our best and we let God do the rest. That’s how it works. The disciples needed to learn this lesson. 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 when God is in the picture. Jesus taught the disciples that God can do much with little! The disciples gave what they had. That’s all that was required of them. That’s all that is required of us.
Thirdly, we must get started. So many business and career minded people never see their aspirations materialize or reach 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, it multiplied in their hands! The best of commercial enterprises and careers start as a creative idea but evolve and mature in our hands and feet. In other words, we learn along the way. So let’s get started! Not only will we move things forward, the psychological value of working through the process and actually accomplishing our goals are nearly the same; the activities of attaining and the the finalities of attainment are at least equally rewarding.
There are other traits business and career traits that should be briefly mentioned and they are not what we usually hear like heightened ambition or believing that we can do anything if we put our mind to it; these traits are more humanistic qualities. The Christian business and career is different. That’s not to say a healthy dose of ambition and conviction is not helpful. It is. But there is more for the people of faith: there is assurance, diligence, guidance, courage, kindness and thankfulness. All these will help us to be more successful and content.
As Christians, 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 worthy 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.
We must also have an unflappable work ethic. We must be diligent. Success and slothfulness are fair-weather friends. It may work for a while but not for long. We just can’t be lazy. There are no short cuts for hard work. We must also 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, and adjustments 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 my favorite verses is I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. This verse has been so helpful for me through the years. It has helped me in business and life. Now let’s get back to David for a moment. He is a great example of courage: King David had the courage to confront a violent and vicious opponent. The stakes were high; the after-effect of failure was enslavement. Success was freedom. David took on the challenge. 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. We can be cautious but not fearful.
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!