"Did you know that the Bible has more to say about money than about any other single topic? God doesn’t necessarily place a greater importance on money than on other truths, but our attitudes about money and the way we use it indicate our deeper spiritual condition. Since business involves the exchange of money, it stands to reason that God places a significant value to the way business works.
Indeed, today we really saw that a business run by Christians should not just be better than other businesses, it should be totally different. If Jesus is really at the center of our own individual lives, or if we aspire for Him to be, then our lives should reflect changes as we grow and allow Him to refine our character. And then, as business owners, as our individual lives change to become more Christ-like, our businesses should also become more Christlike.
What, then, is a Christ-like business, and why would we try to have such a business?
The answer to the second question actually answers the first question.
A big revelation for me today, something that completely resets my approach to “work” – especially as a new business owner – is this big-idea truth that Mike shared:
Business is a tool that God uses to refine our own character and to glorify Him in ways that our personal lives may not allow us to do.
As I let that sink in, it changes how I see what I do. Business for the Christian isn’t just making better products, isn’t just sending invoices and receiving payments more efficiently, isn’t just becoming the market leader, isn’t even just giving people something great that they will treasure for a lifetime.
Business is about God’s deeper work in us and the people around us.
This means that God is ultimately more concerned about our character than our profit. Of course profit is important and necessary in a business. Without profit, there is no business and you just have a nice hobby that doesn’t provide for your needs. But at times God calls us to sacrifice in the area of profit for the sake of doing what is right so that He can shape our character to be more like Him. Profit and the money the business produces will be a by-product, or “symptom” as Mike put it, of a business run on Godly principles.
This means that as a business owner, I have a not just the opportunity, but the responsibility to lead and develop the character of the people that work with and for me. Wow. Have you ever thought of your position as an employer as including the responsibility to help employees personally develop, and not just do their job? Jesus set the example for us as a leader by pouring His life into the lives of those around Him.
This means that as the leader of our businesses, we take ownership of communicating the style, the values, the principles by which we conduct business to everyone on our team. We ensure that everyone is on the same page and we take the initiative and time to train each person. We provide both correction and praise to people who work with us, just as God does to us – all in a backdrop of patient love.
And this means that we deal with and understand people not in terms of their status – “boss” vs. “worker”, or “$400k revenue business” vs. “$40k revenue business”, or “been shooting weddings for 7 years” vs. “I’ve shot 2 weddings”, or “my camera costs $x” vs. “your camera costs $y”, or “client who makes $500k a year” vs. “client who makes $35k a year”. All these things simply promote pride and arrogance, which are only obstacles to our growth. All people are equal in God’s eyes, and when we relate to our staff, our vendors, our peers and our clients we must honor them as individuals rather than as categories.
Pretty challenging, isn’t it? But if business is a tool that God uses to develop our character and to glorify Him, it will be different than just going to work.
Mike also talked about six symptoms of business bondage – signs that your business may not be in line with God’s ultimate purpose for it. These aren’t death sentences, though. Just like pain in our bodies, they are signals that we need to change in some area in order to experience God’s best for us.
1. Superiority, which is really just pride and arrogance. Do you compare yourself to others and either think you’re less of a person when you don’t measure up, or more important and valuable when you come out ahead of someone else? The answer to this is humility and esteeming others higher than ourselves.
2. Selfishness, which we can understand as greed. In place of greed, we need to give.
3. Overwork, which is an indicator of financial bondage.
4. Excessive use of credit means that we’re not completely trusting God to provide for us with what He has already given us.
5. Disorganization, which has at its root laziness.
6. Trying to get rich quick – this indicates our love of money above our love for God.
Finally, we talked today about some practical strategies to implement these ideals and qualities in our lives and businesses, and to address some of the root problems that the symptoms of business bondage bring to our attention.Here are the highlights:
- Pray – praying is a muscle. If you don’t pray when you don’t have to, then you won’t be able to when you need to. Pray specifically for wisdom and direction each day.
- Make mentoring a priority in your life. Find a person or people who agree to spend time with you regularly and give you part of their lives – their experience, wisdom and knowledge. Be open to their guidance and to learning from them, putting aside your own pride.
- Know your vision for your life and your priorities and write them down. Make your life vision the lens through which you make your everyday decisions.
- Have people around you that hold you accountable. Ensure there are one or more people who have the ability to stand up to you when you need to be corrected or instructed. Don’t surround yourself with “yes men” and be humble enough to accept the correction.
- Ensure you have time each day for prayer and connection with God in your own personal life.
- Spend quality time with your family. Compartmentalize work so it does not take over your life.
- Debt is bondage, so avoid it wherever possible.
It may or not bring a lot of money, but it can be something that brings me closer to God."