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 patience, and fair value. These are also essential in any Christian business or career. Nevertheless, there are some principles and practices that could 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 business or career 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. There is a verse in one of David’s songs, 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 political custodian. David knew he had to depend on God to help him. Others trusted in their weaponry and skill. David trusted in God. There was just no other way for him.
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 working poor, college jobs, lower skilled, and transitional workers. This is very harmful to local communities and lacks economic compassion.
We don’t need to hurt others to reach our goals. When we trust God we receive help from God. This is our edge, anyway. Most of us know the Biblical story when Jesus helped the 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 convinced this was unachievable, responded, we have only five loaves of bread and two fishes what are these among so many? Jesus graciously instructed bring them 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!
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 (fishes and loaves) among so many. They focused on what they didn’t have – not what they had and could have if God is in the equation. Jesus taught the Disciples a big lesson when he asked, give the loves and fishes to me. That so much of 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.
Thirdly, we must stop messing around and get started. So many 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 let alone anything resembling success. 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 are evolving and in discovery; we learn along the way. So let’s get started! Not only will we move things along for ourselves the psychological value of attaining and the attainment are nearly the same thing.
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 a 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. 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 tough. There are no short cuts because we are people of faith. 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, there is little doubt, He will be serious about partnering with us!
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. We must get courage from God and renew it daily. David had the courage to confront a violent and vicious opponent. The stakes were high; the aftereffect was enslavement or 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 courage. This kind of courage comes from God.
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 on the job. 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 C. Hutchison, Rochester Hills Michigan, August 2020 Published by Permission Only