Christian Business

Why Every Day Counts

One of the iconic moments in Karate Kid is the wax on, wax off lesson. Daniel, the main character, is expecting to be taught karate by Miyagi, his master. But Miyagi keeps giving him seemingly menial tasks such as cleaning and waxing his car using a “wax on, wax off” motion. Before long, Daniel has had enough and questions his master’s training. Only for Miyagi to show him that every menial task he’s given him has taught him an essential karate move.

Regardless of what field you’re in, there’s probably an element of repetition in the things you do and the people you engage with on a daily basis. Sometimes, it’s the same script but different cast. Other times, it’s a different script but same cast. But after a while, it can start to feel like you get up every morning to do some semblance of the same thing.

As believers, there’s an additional sense of dealing with the same things when it comes to our faith and spirituality at work. Going out of your way to be cordial and civil with that person who’s just mean and messy to be around; forgiving that colleague for sending you on yet another tour under the bus; honouring that boss who’s frankly not the best of leaders; going above and beyond what your job description entails even though you don’t get paid enough for what your job entails much less the additional work you do.

There are things God requires us to continually do that more often than not can end up feeling like a waste of time and effort. Especially if we have to keep doing them for an extended period of time with no apparent and immediate change of circumstance.

But what if the path that seems to lead to nowhere is in fact the very thing that leads us right to where God wants us; right to where we need to be in order to get what we’ve been trusting God for.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

– Romans 5:3-5 ESV

Just because we can’t yet see the transformation that our perseverance is birthing in us and in our lives, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. What may look like menial tasks to us are the very things that God is using to sanctify and consecrate us into deeper relationship with Him and to equip us to steward every blessing He has in store for us.

May He find us faithful with our every day, when no one seems to be looking and there’s no spotlight, red carpet or applause waiting for us.

Wax on, wax off.

Christian Business

Train Your Eyes

I needed to get a service done and went to place A which I was somewhat familiar with. The person I found running the place wasn’t the nicest at first, but as I lingered at the behest of the Holy Spirit, I came to learn that they were trying to sort out a personal emergency which had clearly thrown their day off track. Eventually, help arrived and I got what I needed done at an astronomical cost that I hadn’t initially expected.

Fast forward some weeks later when I discovered the work done at place A had an issue that potentially required me to get everything done from scratch. Given the original price I had to pay, it pained me to think about how much more I’d have to fork over if everything was to be done again.

In the weeks in between, I’d discovered that place B exists a walking distance away from place A and so I decided to try it out instead. From the word go, the service was remarkably different. When we get to the bottom of the problem, I realized that the way the work was done at place A meant that I ended up paying twice what I should have had the work been done right. That’s even before I make any payments at place B for the repairs that need to be done.

You’re probably thinking – place B needs a medal and place A should be torn down (figuratively, of course). But my testimony is this – I saw God’s goodness abundantly in both instances.

As Christians who live in a troubled world, we cannot afford to not know how to perceive light in the dark places. Especially when it is not immediately apparent. Particularly because the light is usually us, not something or someone outside of us.

Yet unlike physical sight, spiritual sight is something we have to learn. It’s not automatic that we see what God or the enemy is doing, even when we have the gift of discernment. It takes practice to be able to take note of the ways and patterns of a God who hardly does anything the way that is common for us as human beings.

Over the years, I’ve learned to live with this heart posture: God, help me see Your goodness in ALL things. I no longer question God’s goodness like I used to and go wandering in search of it as though it and He is lost and can’t find me. I do my best to stand on the faith that God is good and go looking for His goodness; because I know it’s there, my eyes just need to adjust so I can see it.

This is what my adjusted eyes see in place A and B that gives me cause to be thankful to God for both:

 

1. Obedience outweighs outcome. My initial reception at place A had me ready to leave to look for an alternative almost instantaneously. But God asked me to stay and I did. Just because our obedience doesn’t lead to the outcome we consider ideal, doesn’t invalidate it. I know that it counts for something each time I trust God enough to follow His lead especially when it doesn’t make logical sense. I’ve found that learning to obey in the small things builds muscle for when the stakes get bigger.

2. We always have the choice to extend grace. It’s not always that people are bad. Maybe they’re just having a bad day. And if you look beyond yourself and your needs for a moment it’ll be right there for you to see it. Even if they are being intentionally awful, there’s room for gracious recourse even if you have to stand your ground concerning a matter. I much prefer to have God fight my battles because He knows the intentions of another’s heart better than I do and will treat them more justly than I ever could.

3. Save the baby as you throw out the bath water. I was dealing with a deadline that involved other people both times I got the service done. There was input person A gave beyond their service that allowed me to meet first deadline. Most of what they did was actually good; it was only one error that upended things. And while the need for repair was inconveniencing, God availed wisdom on a way to get it done that barely cost me anything. Not to mention, I didn’t lose any benefit I had gained by getting things done within deadline the first time. God came through both times, just in different ways.

4. Faithfulness matters. The person at place B made about 0.61% (yes, I did the literal math) of what the person at place A did. Even though person B could have insisted on it, they chose not to charge me for the repairs and only charged me for the new work I gave them. The world would consider them a terrible business person; but I am a thankful recipient of their faithful stewardship. What they do for a living is a job looked down upon by many in society, but their heart of service registers a powerful testimony in the kingdom of God. There’s no such thing as small work or small faith in His hands.

5. Live your faith daily. Based on how things went, you may presume person A is a non-believer and person B a believer. You’re half right. Both places are run by Christians. Saying you’re a Christian means little if your life is a complete departure of who Christ is. You cannot say that you don’t represent Christ at work because there’s no opportunity to do so. Every time you engage in business – as a customer or a provider – you’re handed a chance to be a light and a life-giver to someone.

 

This post is not a humble brag of what a good Christian I am. Hardly. There are plenty of times when I haven’t made the best choices and my representation of Christ has been less than exemplary. I share this story in the hope that anyone who reads it would see the practicality of the gospel in the marketplace.

My work transactions are spiritual in nature whether or not money is involved and regardless of how much of it. Whether I’m the customer or the product/service provider, I have learned to check for what God is doing in everything I’m involved in, big or small, and to partner with Him in accomplishing it.

Person A may never fully know or understand the inconvenience I faced but I can afford to extend them grace and be thankful for all the good they did do. I can’t afford not to ask God to help them be better and do better because we’re part of the same Body and under the same Christian banner, which makes their testimony my own. Saying I’m not “that kind of Christian” doesn’t go as far as we think.

Person B may never fully know or understand what a blessing they were to me and I can’t afford to repay their kindness in the way I would want to. But I can ask God to cause His face to shine upon them and their family. As the Lord leads and enables, I can send more business their way. I can find encouragement that just as their faithfulness deeply mattered to me, my faithfulness makes a difference to someone else.

May we learn to partner with the hand of God as we honour His heart in who we are and in the work that we do.

 

Take Action:

What practical ways can you practice the gospel this week at your workplace?

Christian Business

The Currency Of Integrity

What’s the value of your word?

Some years back I happened to be seating in a board room where an intriguing conversation was going on. A CEO was telling us of a time when handshakes were how deals were done. Of course, the lawyers would come in afterwards and do the necessary paper work. But essentially, if a verbal commitment was given the deal stood exactly as discussed. Everything else was just a legal formality.

I couldn’t help but think then, and all the more, now, how much things have changed.

Over promising and under delivering is unfortunately all too common in the business world; whether it’s from a business to their clients, or within businesses, from employers to employees and vice versa. The bare-minimum-I-can-get-away-with culture abounds. In our struggle and desperation to make a good impression, we end up going overboard and biting off more than we can chew.

Believers are no exception here. If anything, we’re some of the biggest culprits. You would think that being known as a Christian professional or business would carry some weight of integrity, but often times it just amounts to being screwed over in the name of Jesus.

It’s one thing to say we’re Christian. But what is the testimony of our word in saying what we mean, meaning what we say and living out our word? Can people count on you as a believer when you give your word?

The weight of your word matters all the more in the realms of the spirit. I keep saying that while we may seemingly get away with lying to fellow human beings, we don’t have the same license with spirit beings – whether angels, demons, the devil or God Himself.

It is in the spirit where power and authority is transacted. Any power and authority we have in Jesus as believers is dependent on our integrity – on our submission to be led by Him in all things to do what is right and what is just. We cannot say we represent Christ or His kingdom if our actions are the very opposite of who He is.

This goes beyond what is legally acceptable. The laws of men and the requirements of God are not on equal scales. Yet there are plenty of instances of believers who hide behind what they can get away with legally notwithstanding the fact that what they’re doing is neither right nor just. Just because what you’re doing or not doing for that matter is legally permissible doesn’t automatically mean it’s okay in the eyes of God.

We say we believe in a God who keeps His word and faithfully fulfills His promises. Can the same be said of us and the way we do business?

As we make commitments in the workplace – whether big or small – know that your commitment and how you handle it is not just a reflection of you, it’s a representation of the God you say you serve. How you fulfill what you have promised says more about your love for God and for others than any Scripture you quote to your workmates.

At the end of the day, God will not hold you accountable for what someone else did or didn’t do. He’ll hold you accountable for you. So regardless of how others speak and act, my challenge to you is to raise your standard of integrity as a believer who is well aware of the Name they represent and the God behind that Name.

It takes one person to take a stand to create an environment that challenges others to do the same. May you be courageous and bold enough to be the one who makes that stand for integrity.

 

 

Take Action:

Are there any unfulfilled promises in your work life – past or present? Ask God to show you how you can make amends and make things right. Humble yourself and do as He requires of you.

As you make commitments in the present and future, be accountable to God first and human beings, second. Work as unto God and let your faithfulness to your word reflect His faithfulness to His.

 

Christian Business, Leaders' Foundry

Character

I look at the world around me and I see reasons – loud, obnoxious reasons – why it doesn’t pay to do the right thing. More aptly, how people are not just getting away with doing the wrong thing, but actually being rewarded for it.

With it, a sinister lie is creeping into many hearts – it’s useless to bother. Doing the right thing doesn’t pay off so why bother? Doing the right thing is just giving me more grief and problems so why bother?

The unfortunate truth is that this is not new. None of it is. Throughout Scripture and human history is evidence of ages where wickedness seemed to reign supreme and it was a struggle to find anything good in being good.

When madness seems to abound everywhere we turn, it serves as a true test to show us what really drives us to be one thing and not another; to pursue one thing and not another; to choose the way of God not the way of the world.

This is the time when the true leaders of our age are ushered forth. Not by virtue of titles and positions held, nor by fame, popularity and fortune; but by the testimony of their lives. Testimony that has been tried and tested. Testimony that shows who truly carries the heart of God and not just His hand.

“The same power that raised Him up is the power that lives in us.”

– Brian Johnson (Strong In Us)

Every believer has an innate call to leadership and dominion in one way or another by virtue of the commissioning of Christ to us all. But divine power and authority – the kind that actually makes a difference – can only flow in the lives of they who are truly for Christ – in word and deed.

You may get away with tricking human beings including yourself by preaching water and drinking wine but the angels and principalities know better. The devil is well aware who is out rightly for him and who he can hijack to unknowingly fulfill his agenda. God will certainly not be blinded by your words when your actions tell a different story. So who’s fooling who?

Character then becomes a question of who holds you heart whether someone is there to see it or not.

If you hold your own heart, then your life is for your convenience and benefit; everything you do and don’t do is dependent on what you think and feel is best for you. You’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy and keep you comfortable even if it’s at the detriment of others. Every strength you have will propel you forward in equal measure to how every weakness and limitation you have will draw you back.

If that which you desire most – whether material possession or the affection and attention of another – holds your heart, then everything you’re doing will be centred on how you can get it; and once you have it, you’ll be obsessed with trying to get more of it while hoarding what you already have. Because one taste is never enough. And you don’t realize that that which you think you have, in actual sense, has you.

If someone else holds you heart, then you are a puppet in the hands of a master who may not truly understand the power of the sway they have over you, much less have the wherewithal to steward your destiny which is now in their hands. It’s a precarious situation when one pot relies on another for its identity when only the Potter knows why both exist.

If God holds your heart, then the decisions you make in private and public will be in sync with His heart and mind for you concerning those things. The evidence in your life will be the fruit of His Spirit – love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control and patience. Even in moments and seasons of wilderness and great testing these things will emerge strong in who you are and all you say and do.

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

– Jim Elliot

We cannot build anything that is eternally relevant without the foundation of character. It matters little how gifted and talented we are, how spiritual and successful we become, if we lose sight of the most basic fundamentals of Christian living – the very things that differentiate us from all else.

Some of us want to be good/Godly not because it’s the right thing to be/do but because of what we think we’ll get out of it. Whether it’s the ticket to heaven and eternal life, a somewhat more material version of blessing on earth, or the fulfillment of your deepest desires, we’re not pursuing godliness out of our love for God. It’s a means to an end.

So when someone else on a different path seems to be getting to their end faster and with less trouble, we find ourselves questioning whether the path we’re on is really worthwhile.

We need learn how to do the right thing because it’s the right thing; not based on what we’ll get out of it. Otherwise our motivation ends up for sale to the highest bidder who can best convince us they have the best deal to offer; and our definition of right and wrong becomes blurred on the scale of benefit to self.

I look at the kingdom of the God who lives in me and I see reasons – quiet, unassuming, yet strong and steadfast reasons – why I need to pursue God’s heart all the more. Why even when I falter and fail, I need to catch my breath, get back up and keep moving forward. Why in the moments when I find myself despairing at the state of the world in me and around me, I can lean all the more on Him and trust in the goodness of His heart.

Yes, Scripture and human history have shown us terrible times that make us question humanity. But in the midst of it all, like the brightest of stars in the darkest of nights, shines the heart and hand of God working through a handful of men and women who dared to believe for something better and gave their lives for it.

You need only look up and look deep to see. Some of their stories abound in Hebrews 11.

Then you need to look within to realize your role and mandate is crucial.

The baton is in our hands.

May we faithfully run our race.

 

Pray:

As a believer, is God pleased with who you are when people are watching and who you are when they’re not? Ask Him to show you where you need to make some changes.

 

Take Action:

If you were to intentionally cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control and patience – what would your everyday life look like?

That is what you need to go do.

Because that’s how you change the world one person at a time.