Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2007
OPPORTUNITIES TO EXTEND CHRIST’S KINGDOM ARE ALL AROUND US. HERE ARE SOME WAYS WE CAN SEE THEM!
Many people on the earth today want an answer to their hearts’ cry, “What do I have to offer?” Regardless of age, experience, education and cultural status, as Christians we want to be used in the Lord’s incredible plan. Business people have so much to offer to further Christ’s Kingdom.
As a Kingdom business consultant, I get to apply 14 years of business ownership experience to assist Christians as they hone their business strategy and processes in order to become more profitable and recognized by their peers in the marketplace. My desire is to see godly businesses grow into a force to be reckoned with, through a reputation for excellence and powerful influence, for the sake of advancing the kingdom of God.
We are still learning how to fulfill our roles in this fresh and revolutionary movement of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, we are not alone in this walk of discovery. Ken Eldred writes in his book God is at Work, “the businessperson’s ministry is to serve others through useful goods and helpful services and to infuse each personal interaction with the fragrance of Christ. That is his high calling from God, and it was my calling.”
Can you imagine business people being so involved with outreach and discipleship that daily ministry becomes a part of their company’s identity?
One company that has outreach woven into their corporate identity is INTERSTATE BATTERY in Dallas, Texas. After performing their due diligence, Interstate chose four charitable organizations to receive committed resources. One of these organizations is CHILDREN’S HOPE CHEST. While sponsoring orphans in Russia, Interstate also encourages employees who want to go on short term trips to minister directly to the children.
I spoke with one employee of Interstate Battery, Anita Bryan. Anita has taken part in four out of five trips to Children’s Hope Chest in Russia, and agrees that she has had positive life-changing experiences as a result. “I value my family more, and get to share my mother’s heart with the disadvantaged children who have been cast aside. These trips change your world view of the freedom we enjoy as Americans.”
The employees who participate become much more aware of the effect that is being made in many young lives, and get to witness firsthand the hope and encouragement the children receive. However, not all employees who take part in these short term trips are Christian. Some participating employees who are not believers are very active in these serving activities, and have been on all five of the Russian trips.
Anita goes on to say that as a result of the world perspective of Interstate, she views the executive leadership as people who are “interested in the quality of life and fulfillment of their employees. This is one of the benefits.”
BUSINESS AS MISSION
Countries which remain closed to “traditional missionaries” readily invite those who are willing to teach free market principles and ideas. Thankfully, God’s economic structure is the strong foundation of any flourishing society. We simply must trust and obey Him.
“If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading trough. Blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed shall you be when you go out” (Deuteronomy 28:1-6, Amplified Bible).
The point in this outreach is not to make more American-style businesses, but to bring God’s purpose to pass regardless of culture or differences, and to make Kingdom businesses that will shine and bring glory to God.
Whether in the US or other countries, we can reflect Jesus to those with whom we work on a daily basis. Most of us have this opportunity to minister His love 40 or more hours per week. The most effective way to do this is, of course, is by demonstration! Walk the talk by living out your personal core values.
On a recent trip to Poland, I had the opportunity to meet with several business people, all of whom were facing unique challenges in their businesses. One gentleman who owned a clothing manufacturing company was having difficulty finding skilled labor from the small pool of workers who were legally available to hire. He was tempted to hire people who were not authorized to legally work in Poland, but he desired to operate his company as unto the Lord.
After some discussion, I found out he already employed tailors he considered to be masters in their trade. We then talked about a plan where this businessman could offer a group of single moms the opportunity to learn a new trade on the weekends. The highly skilled tailors would earn extra income as teachers, passing on their knowledge to these mothers in need. Normal production would not be interrupted, and the single moms who successfully completed their training would be hired, with proven skills in place.
Where this businessman previously saw a dead end, he was now excited about helping families, while growing his business! Also, a natural result of his decision will be his current employees watching their boss lead them with strong ethics.
“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to our own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am’” (Isaiah 58:6-9).
GOD AS CEO
In 2003, my husband, Chris, and I were going through a very difficult time. After eleven years, I had left the family manufacturing business, to begin to break ground in an unknown business service – Kingdom business consulting. Chris has an architectural degree, and had started his residential design business four years prior. It was during this time that everything “dried up.” Suddenly, Chris had only one client and no houses to design. Chris came to me one day and said, “God told me not to bill my client the next time I complete a home design for them.” That seemed like an easy decision, since there was no work to be had.
You can see it coming, can’t you?
Not long after this conversation with God, sure enough, Chris received a call from his client. It was a nice large home which would bring in some much needed income for our struggling household. The design was finished quickly, and when it came time to deliver the plans to the homebuilder, my husband announced to the client that he would not receive an invoice for the design, because this was God’s instruction. The builder was understandably shocked, and thought Chris was a little crazy. No, a LOT crazy! God taught Chris a valuable lesson through this. GOD is our provider, not the clients, and not the work of our hands.
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd” (Hebrews 11:1-2 The Message).
He wants us to come to the end of our rope. When all of our efforts fail, God says, “Are you ready to try it my way?” He wants us to learn how to trust Him with EVERYTHING. Our businesses, family, health, finances, time…everything!
It’s not always going to make sense, is it? You may have some difficult questions from your employees, your clients and your family. But we are laboring “as unto the Lord,” who is our CEO.
Here’s something that can help us remember this principle: “…many of us find the security of the world system much more comfortable than the walk of faith. Our challenge is to walk into our Promised Land.” – J. Gunnar Olson, Founder of International Christian Chamber of Commerce.
When we finally let Jesus take the wheel, something amazing happens. Those issues that inevitably come up become an opportunity to see what God will do. You begin to think, “How will He handle this, and what will be my role?” Ask Him “How do You want to use me?”
We are to ask our CEO what He wants, what He is planning. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, New American Standard Bible).
My dad and I worked together in our metal stamping company for eleven years. Each time we would bid a new job opportunity, we would pray over the bid before sending it to the client. Dad taught me to pray, not that we would necessarily win the bid, but to pray that God’s will be done, period. We did not want business that would become a loss to the company, and we did not want to work with clients who would cause the company harm. It may look like a great opportunity for growth, or the job may look like a small opportunity not worth spending time on, but we are unable to see the whole picture.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message).
In January of 2005, I was wrapping up my 2005 projected revenue report for our residential design firm, which would determine our budget for the year. After creating these projections for a $4 million company, I was confident in my ability to whip up a projection for this two-person firm in no time. God must have had an angel hit me on the head, for as I was finishing up my spreadsheet and graphs, a thought popped up, “I should pray about this.” So I prayed, “God, is this an accurate number for our revenue?”
Immediately, the Holy Spirit gave me another number, a number that was twice the number on the graph in front of me. Yes, it was DOUBLE the projected annual revenue I had estimated.
It may not come as news to you, but it turns out that God really knows what He’s doing! The year of 2005, God granted us supernatural favor with a client, we hired another employee, and we met the projected amount that the Holy Spirit provided. The good news is, it was God’s plan and He used us to carry it out.
He wants to use you, too. I pray that you will discover more ways to get God involved in your business.
Scripture Reference: Deuteronomy 28:1-6; Isaiah 58:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 13:12