Christian Business

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

There are people who serve in the shadows. People who don’t have any fancy titles or accolades but continue to do their work faithfully. People who allow God to entrust them with destinies that seem far greater than their own and pour their all into them. People who allow others to stand on their shoulders and be in the spotlight even if it means they never get any recognition for it.

They’re heroes in my view. Unassuming and often overlooked, but heroes nonetheless.

This is probably why I find it interesting that when most people talk about their dreams and desires in life, there’s an element of recognition attached to their definition of success. How many of us go about our days believing that what we say and do will only matter when we get to point X, with title X and with X people who know us?

Yet, just because someone has a high level of influence doesn’t mean that there is no contribution that you, who doesn’t have their title or their influence, can make in their life. I’ve come across a dime a dozen stories in which people of great influence share significant moments in their journeys where God used a nondescript person to pull them out of a pit they were in. It makes me wonder – what if these ordinary people disregarded the role God was asking them to play because they believed they don’t matter?

Equally, just because a person has the same level of influence as you do doesn’t mean that there is no difference you can make in their life. Neither does someone who has less influence than you, deserve less honour and sacrifice from you.

What does this look like in the workplace?

Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.

– St Francis of Assisi

When we remember people are more than just numbers in our targets and to-do lists, we don’t merely transact with them for money (whether it comes as a salary, a commission or a business income). There is far more love and consideration given to one another when we remember the love of Christ – a love so great and vast He was willing to stake His life for us because of it. As our love for God grows, so does our love for people.

I’ve become increasingly cognizant of how a business serves me as a consumer impacts me; which, has in turn, made me more conscious of the impact I have to those around me. The business has little to do with the bricks and mortar and everything to do with the people in it that I interact with. Their impact has nothing to do with how many Scriptures they cite to me. It has everything to do with things that unsurprisingly fall under the category of fruit of the Spirit:

  1. Love: Am I more than just a customer number to you?
  2. Joy: Does my interaction with you add to my joy or take away from it?
  3. Peace: Does dealing with you fill me with angst and anxiety or do you leave me better than you found me?
  4. Patience: Am I a bother to you or do you see the value in serving me (beyond the money you get from me)?
  5. Kindness & Gentleness: Is there any thoughtfulness in how you speak with me and treat me?
  6. Goodness: Does what you’re selling to me and how you’re selling it to me add genuine value in my life?
  7. Faithfulness: Does what you deliver to me live up to the promise you’ve made me as a consumer/client; and how do you take ownership when it falls short for whatever reason?
  8. Self-control: Will you exploit the power you have as a business employee or owner to gain more traction and get more profit at the expense of my personal well-being?

Some of us care more about how many likes we get more than how much like God we’re becoming.

– Christine Caine

Borrowing from this train of thought – many of us care more about the number of zeroes in our bank account at the end of the month than the number of lives we’ve made a difference in within the same period. That’s why the illustration of the fruit in the workplace will bother us. It asks us to give more of ourselves than we’re willing to.

If I’m to be brutally honest – as believers, we tend to be a selfish lot in the marketplace. We go into our work lives and careers thinking – what’s in it for me? We want everyone around us to pay the price to give us the best but we’re not willing to do the same for them.

The issue with this ideal is that our service becomes dependent on our compensation – financial or otherwise – rather than our revelation of God’s will for us in a given situation. And we show up in church on Sunday with the same attitude that says to God – I’ll live for you to the degree You bless me. What should be primarily relational becomes primarily transactional.

It’s no wonder we have such a hard time making a difference in the marketplace as believers. Our stance is no different from non-believers. As kingdom representatives, we’re inadvertently propping up the wrong kingdom. What makes it sadder is the reality of how much time we spend doing so, because our work tends to take up a good chunk of our lives each week.

Fame and visibility are not the hallmark of success in the kingdom. Neither is a healthy profit margin or personal gain. To be praised by human beings and industry peers doesn’t automatically mean you’re on the right path. The world can cheer you on right into a ditch, at which point, their support turns into scorn within seconds.

Because we’ve grown up in a world that not only uses these measures of success but trains us to do the same from a very early age, it’s not automatic that we see ourselves and our input the way God does.

It’s a daily journey to intentionally remind ourselves of what it means for us to be believers in the marketplace. The more we dwell in God’s presence and submit our work ethic to Him, the more we become like Him and live our lives – even our work lives – as we ought to.

Does this mean that it’s wrong for us to desire affirmation and recognition for the work we do? Or that we should be broke Christians in the name of being good believers? No. But bear in mind that whoever we look to to meet these needs in us we give power and influence over us. As a believer, would you rather have that be the world or God?

So here’s to everyone deep in the trenches. Though the world around you may be fully oblivious to the sacrifice you make each day, God is well aware. May your eternal reward be found in Him.

 

Take Action:

Find ways to express the fruit of the Holy Spirit as you go about your work this week.

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

Speak!

When God speaks, creation changes. Our first introduction to God in the Bible is of Him as One who creates, forming something good out of nothing, through speech.

As human beings who are made in His image, and believers who have been set apart and empowered in Christ, it shouldn’t be a far stretch to believe that when we speak, creation will change as well.

Creation knows it.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:19-21 ESV

God knows it.

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Matthew 18:18-20 ESV

Even the devil knows the power of the word.

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Mark 4:14-15 NIV

Christians seem to be the only ones struggling with this reality.

Most people receive things easier from the devil, than they do from God.

– Joyce Meyer

Power, even in the spiritual realms, doesn’t know vacuum. If you’re not occupying your rightful spiritual position, someone else will. So in doing nothing, you are in fact, doing something – ceding control to enemy of your soul.

If we don’t think our words have any power, if we don’t even think our faith has any place in our workplace, then we end up spiritually complacent in our work environments, which allows the devil to have his merry way.

I can’t help but think that this is why the devil has worked so hard to delineate our work lives from our church lives; and why he’s doing such a thorough job of convincing us that things are too far gone for any change to be possible.

He knows how powerful we are even when we don’t. He believes it even when we don’t. And he’s not sitting around cowering in fear waiting for us to stumble upon the truth. He’s the master of distortion and subterfuge and he has no qualms about getting us where we’re vulnerable. One who can present a convincing illusion of weaker power will always have their way over one who is ignorant of their stronger power.

Why is it easier for us to believe the worst of circumstances than to trust in God for something better? Simple really. Self-preservation is something we default into as human beings without even being conscious of it. If things are bad, it costs you nothing to acknowledge how bad they are. There is no risk involved in lamenting and complaining about a terrible situation.

But believing and fighting for a different outcome? Suddenly, you have to pull out your faith and your hope and your fortitude and all these things that are going to cost you something; sometimes, everything. Suddenly, there’s the risk of failure and disappointment that comes with expectation. Suddenly, you have to step up and take responsibility for changing a situation rather than sit back in the sidelines and casually lay the blame on someone else. Suddenly, you have no excuse to keep your head down and hide in the shadows. You have to manifest your position as one who is made in the image of God and a co-heir of Christ.

The funny thing about change is that everyone wants the benefits of it but no one wants to pay the price for it. Yet, there’s an even higher price that comes with things staying the same.

We need to declare the truth of God over our lives into being. Our declarations find their form in our hearts, before they emanate from our mouths. So your heart needs to embrace a truth before your mouth can declare it with authority. There’s no preliminary course or pre-qualification test. We learn to do it by doing it.

This doesn’t mean that we fail to acknowledge the realities around us. If anything, let’s recognize them. But let’s assign them their accurate value and power. There is no circumstance in our lives and our workplaces that is higher, that is more powerful than the word and presence of God. Our awareness and belief of who God is and what God can do needs to be way more than our awareness of the issues we face during our work week.

None of this means that we’re all talk and no action. This post just happens to focus more on the talking bit. 🙂 Because in speaking truth over our work lives and environments, we create the spiritual atmosphere needed for certain actions to be taken. God first spoke man’s habitation (the earth) into being, before He made man with His hands.

If you’re not sure where to begin, the Bible, which contains the living, breathing word of God, is a pretty good place to start. Ask God to show you the truth of His heart and mind concerning your work life and environment and partner with Him in its manifestation.

Some things may happen immediately. Some things may take a while. But know that God will make everything beautiful in His time.

 

Take Action:

What are some declarations that you’re committing to speak over your work life and workplace each day?

Christian Business

Divine Opportunities

Not every open door (or even window) is from God. Some come from fellow human beings. Others come from the enemy. Yes, the devil has no qualms setting people up for greatness if it serves his purpose; and he equally has no reservations about destroying them during or after his purpose is achieved.

Divine opportunities: (1) come from God (2) to serve His purpose on earth (3) at an appointed time and season (4) in a manner that matches the configuration He’s given you.

In the marketplace they can take the form of a new job, a new business deal, a new work project, a new business partnership, etc.

There’s more to taking on a divine opportunity than just saying yes to it. Here are some of the things that we need to consider with God as we decide whether to take on the opportunities that come our way:

 

Are You in this?

Just because it looks big and shiny doesn’t mean it’s good for you or that it’s even from God. Just because it looks small and insignificant doesn’t mean it’s not of God. There are many seemingly “good” things that we do as human beings that have zero involvement from God and many seemingly “insignificant” ones we disregard where He’s greatly at work.

From the get go, you need to decide if you’re willing to take on anything good that comes your way. Or if you’ll be like Moses who stood before God and declared – unless You go with me, I don’t want to move.

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

– Exodus 33:12-17 NIV

 

Do You want me in this?

Just because God is doing something with/through person X doesn’t mean you’re automatically a part of that thing or that you should be. To be headed in the same direction is not be appointed to the same lane.

When we try to illegitimately get into someone’s rightful lane, conflict and damage is not far behind. This includes when they unwittingly ask us to partner with them devoid of the leading of the Holy Spirit. If God has not ordained that partnership (and availed the subsequent grace and wisdom required), you’ll struggle to get things done.

Before you say yes to anything that is of God, you need to inquire of Him if He has configured you for it and if His purpose for you in that season includes that thing.

 

When do You want me in this?

God is a Master at preparation. He will begin to speak and give signs of things ahead of their time so that those involved can position themselves and prepare accordingly.

Unfortunately, due to our lack of patience, we tend to venture into things prematurely and then wonder why they’re not turning out as expected.

The time of speaking and the time of manifestation are rarely one and the same.

If God beings to signal you concerning an upcoming opportunity/assignment, consider it your call to come up higher and enter the realm of further inquiry to find out what you need to do to prepare yourself.

 

How do You want me in this?

There is order in the kingdom of God. Anytime God speaks concerning a matter, there’s already a divine blueprint in place that matches the purpose to be accomplished.

When you see a divine opportunity, don’t be quick to fill in the gaps for yourself concerning how you’ll steward it. That which is of the Spirit of God can only be stewarded in the Spirit of God and by the Spirit of God. It is us who need to partner with Him rather than demanding He rubber stamp whatever we have deemed as good enough for us.

Let God be the one to tell you what your modus operandi is going to be. After all, isn’t He the One who brought the opportunity your way to begin with?

 

How do I complement what those beside me are doing?

One of the dangers that comes with getting an opportunity/assignment from God at personal level is that you can easily forget you’re not the only one God is calling upon and sending out. Your role is important; but so is everyone else’s.

The work God intends to do through you is part of a larger vision that is given to the Body of Christ. So it’s not enough to just discern your part in the story. You need to know what those positioned around you are up to.

Otherwise, you may end up either going renegade where you’re trying to complete a group assignment as an individual and getting hammered while at it. Or you’ll wrongly expect everyone around you to be on the same level you are, doing what thing you’re doing, the same way you’re doing it. You may even mistake friend for foe [read: competition] because of your ignorance.

Your inquiry to God concerning any opportunities you’re considering needs to include how what you’re supposed to do will strengthen what has already been done, what’s currently being done and what is to be done in the future. This is what it means to build with eternity in mind.

 

When is it my time to leave?

Every assignment has a beginning and an end. It could be that what needed to be done has been accomplished. It could also be that your part in the story is over and it’s time to make room for the next person. Whichever the case, just as you prepare for your entry into a divine opportunity you need to prepare for your exit at the appointed time.

It’s a sad affair when the grace of God lifts on an assignment and people continue on as though nothing has happened. It’s indicative that they lost their awareness of and sensitivity to His presence long before He lifted His grace.

You don’t need a loud trumpet to blow right in your ear to indicate that it’s time for you to transition if you’ve been walking with God all along. You’ll know it’s time. And when you do, don’t just drop everything and move on. Let God guide you on when, how and to whom to hand over; as you consider and prepare for where to go next.

 

Take Action:

Consider the marketplace opportunities you are currently waiting for or in pursuit of in light of the questions above. Adjust and align accordingly.

Christian Business

Building Business Arks

Divine ideas are quite something. The story of Noah, the Ark and the flood is a common one in Christian circles. I’ve seen it discussed in the context of our personal lives and pulpit ministry. But I started to think about it from the context of kingdom business.

What does it look like to build an Ark in and for the marketplace?

How does one do business differently from everyone else?

What distinguishes a kingdom business from all others out there?

 

God gives and sustains the vision.

Anyone who considers themselves a disciple of Christ has the Great Commission as their divine assignment. But this takes different shapes, forms and expressions depending on how and where God wants to move through you.

It’s enough for the world to have a good idea. But as believers in the marketplace, we need to have a God idea or else we’ll just be replicating what the world is doing and tagging the Christian label on it with not much of Christ to show for it.

God knew the scope of the problem (the flood) and the magnitude of the solution required (the Ark). Without God, Noah wouldn’t have known to build a boat much less to the specifications of the Ark. He didn’t even know there was a flood coming until God revealed it.

When you look at the work you do in the marketplace, are you functioning to the specifications of God or humanity? Where do your business standards come from? You can be successful in the eyes of the world but doing terribly by kingdom standards.

One area many of us as believers really struggle with is rest. We tumble into the rat race with the world when we should be moving at kingdom pace with the Lord. Particularly since the magnitude of divine vision is matched by divine grace. That which you strive to gain you must strive to keep and further strive to multiply. But when you allow God to entrust you with His vision, you can count on Him to sustain you and everything He requires you to do.

Even after you’re gone or in the event that you move on to other things, God remains to steward over that which He started in you and through you. It extends beyond just being your personal legacy and becomes something much bigger – God’s purpose for the nations.

 

The vision is eternal.  

Consider that the work God is doing on earth began long before you were born and will continue on long after you die. Your contribution doesn’t stand on its own but fits into a bigger, profound picture as painted in Hebrews 11.

Anything eternal is not bound by the limitation of circumstances – it can stand the test of time. The Ark was built in a way that ensured those in it were not adversely affected by the flood and that life continued once the flood waters receded.

Businesses often have to scramble to innovate; at worst, keep up with the times, and at best, be ahead of them. But this ragged rush isn’t necessary when you’re working with the Author of the times and seasons.

God can give you specific details and plans for businesses that will meet needs that are futuristic in nature. This is double edged because on the one hand, you’re positioned to provide solutions when the time comes. But on the other hand, you have to contend building something that may not fully make sense in the present even if it will be perfectly suited for the future.

 

Everything stands on covenant.

When God gave Noah the assignment to build the Ark, He instituted a covenant with him. In simple terms, a covenant is a binding agreement between God and a person/people/nation.

Covenant is a very powerful spiritual reality. There are promises God holds Himself accountable to on condition that we too follow through on certain things. If you study Scripture, you’ll observe times when covenant has been invoked and radically changed the outcome of a situation. From when God wanted to do away with the Israelites and Moses reminded Him of His covenant with Noah to the way King David honoured Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son, because of the covenant between the two friends.

As believers in the marketplace, we need to learn how to make covenants with God concerning our divine assignments. Not just for our own sake, but all the more for those who come after us who can inherit the benefits of the covenants we’ve made and get a head start even as they play their role in the kingdom.

 

Obedience is critical.

The Bible notes that Noah did “just as God commanded”. God’s commands are parameters for our prosperity. They’re an outline for the conditions in which we can best access and enjoy what He has for us. It’s unfortunate when we fall for the lie that He only wants to control us and keep us from that which is good for us; the same lie that led to the fall of Adam and Eve.

There should be no room in our hearts and lives for cutting corners to get things done. If you struggle to obey God in a particular area, you need to check whether you really trust Him in that area and if not, why so.

Your obedience will always be better than any sacrifice you may want to make in its place.

 

It’s not for everyone.

Separation is inevitable. It’s human to want to hold onto the people, the things and the ways that are familiar. But to journey with God is to sign up for a lifetime of walking by faith into unfamiliar territories.

Noah was mandated to do something that had never been done before. It’s not a far stretch to infer that not everyone in his life was supportive of him building the Ark.

Not everyone will understand what God is calling you to do or why. Not everyone will support it. Some may even mock it.

But we must have the resolve of the man in parable of hidden treasure; who sells everything he has to buy an empty field others have disregarded but whose value he has discerned.

It takes God to prepare a person for their purpose. But what we often overlook is that it also takes God to prepare the people who will surround and partner with that person. If you’re prepared but they’re not, they’re going to struggle handling you and the vision you carry.

So we must be keen to discern who God is preparing to partner alongside us for the vision He has entrusted us with and open to Him using those He deems fit for the task not those we’d much prefer.

 

Building businesses with eternity in mind will never be easy. But it will always be worth it. When God comes knocking, may He find a people willing to pay the price to ensure His glory covers the earth as the waters cover the seas.

 

Take Action:

Make time to read Hebrew 11. Can you see the co-relation between what God has you currently doing in the marketplace, the work done by those that have gone ahead of you and the work to be done by those that are to come after you?

Ask God for wisdom to work with eternity in mind.

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, Leaders' Foundry

Strength To Stand

Victory can easily be considered as something that happens in a moment. When I hit a certain target, then am I victorious.

But this kind of victory is a fleeting high that’s comes at the peak of a journey. It marks a milestone but fails to recognize that the milestone wouldn’t be what it is without every effort – big and small – that preceded it.

There’s a different kind of victory. The in between kind. The one where you keep doing what God has called you to do even when you don’t see instant results. The one where you keep putting one foot in front of the other even when you want to throw in the towel. The one where you keep your head down, roll up your sleeves, and keep showing up for your life.

Perseverance is a powerful yet underrated strategy. Many a battle have been won, not by the strongest or the swiftest, but by the one who simply refused to stay down.

If it doesn’t seem like you’re winning at life right now, the truth remains that you’re here. With everything that could have taken you out by now, you’re still here. That counts for something even it doesn’t always feel like it.

So today is a reminder to hang in there. There are days when the bravest, strongest thing you can do is to keep going. May God grant you the grace to do just that.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

– Ephesians 6: 10-18 NIV

Christian Business

Monday Blues

At the height of one of his greatest victories, Elijah suffered one of his worst moments of internal defeat that was so bad he wanted to die. Discouragement is something we all have to contend with at one point or another in our lives. Often, it will hit us when we least expect it.

So what do you do when life happens to you as a believer especially in the workplace?

Here are a couple of practical ways I’ve used to get through my rough days:

 

My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” – Psalm 42:3 ESV

 

Do acknowledge how you feel.

In our attempt to be good Christians, we can easily forget that it is God who gave us our emotions and they don’t lose meaning in our salvation. Jesus Himself acknowledged that we would indeed experience troubles in this world. But His statement didn’t end there.

He undergirded the reality of our tribulations in the truth of victory – we are to take heart (be encouraged) because He has overcome the world. Whatever comes our way, His victory is our victory.

This is a fundamental caveat. To dwell in our feelings without the context of God’s truth about us and our lives is a pitfall we need to avoid. Our feelings are based on our limited perspective of life as human beings and it takes God to give us sight beyond that which is right in front of us. It is when we are introduced to truth that we are able to cast our burdens to Him.

Acknowledge how you truly feel to God. He can take your anger, frustration and disappointment better than anyone else can.

 

Do spend (extra) time in the presence of God.

Sometimes discouragement is our spirit sending out an alarm that it’s running on empty and in need of eternal perspective. If this is something that happens constantly, then you need to reevaluate how regularly you spend time with God. Your spirit is only strong to the degree you have fed it with the word of God in its various expressions from the Bible to a conversation with friends.

I don’t believe that anyone or anything can come into the presence of God and leave the same way. Something changes in you even if it doesn’t immediately manifest in your situation.

How your time in God’s presence looks like is really up to you and Him. But saturating yourself with worship music is certainly a good place to start.

 

Do let someone in.

From the days of the Bible, from the Old Testament right through to the New Testament, Kingdom living has always been modelled in the context of the community. We need each other if we are going to succeed in Christian living as God intended.

When we’ve stumbled and lost our bearing for a moment, the voice of a friend to remind us who we are in God and who He is in us can be the lifeline we need to get back on track.

Where words are not sufficient, and there are many times they won’t be, to have someone who is willing to sit with us as we process our heartache and grief matters just as much.

As I always say, don’t expect other people to do this for you if you are not willing to be there for them when it matters.

 

Do remember that a difficult day/week does not make a bad life.

Facing one thing after another in rapid succession can have you feeling like your life is just one insurmountable mountain. But our lives are far more than the sum of our problems.

One of the most practical ways I’ve found to help me do this is to literally count my blessings. To stop in the midst of my funk and enumerate all the ways that I can see God’s goodness in my life notwithstanding the circumstances I’m in. Why it works is because it shifts my focus from myself and my problems to God and His power at work in my life.

Again, this isn’t a denial of reality. It is expanding my perspective of reality beyond the problems screaming in my ear to the work of God that continues silently on throughout my life.

 

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

– Psalm 42:11 ESV

 

My prayer for you is that no matter what comes your way in the course of your work day and work week, you will remember to put your hope and trust in God.

 

Take Action:

Make time to pray for someone who is experiencing discouragement in some area of their life this week.

Christian Business, Leaders' Foundry

Who’s Leading You?

Dear leader, who’s leading you?

I know it’s not a question that you’re asked often. You’re more than likely used to hearing about how you’re leading others.

Yet I’ve found that one of the greatest hallmarks of a good leader isn’t just in their ability to lead, but particularly in their ability to follow and submit to another. You cannot lead if you have no clue how to be led. This is especially the case for Christian leaders.

Why? Let’s consider who a Christian leader is. What is it that makes one a Christian leader? Is the “Christian” part merely a notation of the faith they ascribe to? Or is there something more evident in their leadership that sets them apart from everyone else?

Can people tell your leadership is Christian in nature merely by observing the impact it has on those you lead and that which you’re responsible for?

As a leader, are your thoughts (mind) in charge?  Is your heart (emotions) in control? Is your impulse (will) what guides your decisions?

Or are you in step with the Spirit of God as a Christian – leader or otherwise – should be.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

– Galatians 5:25 ESV

Being saved by the Spirit and being led by the Spirit are not automatically synonymous for any Christian. One is a choice made in a moment that changes the course of your life eternally; the other is a life-time of daily, intentional surrender. It’s the difference between having Jesus as your Saviour and having Him as your Lord.

Unfortunately, there’s a high number of saved Christians who are as estranged to the Holy Spirit in their salvation as they were before they got saved. Yet He was the one Jesus was keen to leave us as He prepared to go back to be with the Father. Consider why Christ would put such an emphasis on the need for us to have His Spirit (John 14).

If you are not led by the Spirit in your everyday Christian walk, He will not find room in your leadership. What the rest of the world sees in public is but an expression of what’s going on in your private life. If you are led by self (mind, heart and/or will), the fruit of this will be evident in your leadership. If you are led by the opinions of others, this too will be seen in how you lead. But if the Lord Almighty is the One who guides your every step, the world and Body alike will take note of the remarkable difference in your leadership even when they may not understand it.

Leadership is a heavy call for any person to bear, all the more for Christian leaders for whom eternity is at stake. However, it’s not the weight of leadership that often breaks us but how we carry that weight. The weight of having others looking to us for direction; to know that which they do not, to understand that which makes no sense to them, to have answers to the questions that are ringing in their minds.

We cannot take people to a place we have no knowledge of. It is the Spirit of truth who leads us into all truth and helps us in turn point others back to Christ in everything we do, even in the workplace. This is why we can’t afford to lean on our own strength and understanding. We will limit people to our limitations as human beings when we should be creating environments for them to walk in limitless freedom in Jesus.

I can’t help but think that our greatest call as Christian leaders, is to be led by Christ. Everything we do will stand or fall based on our ability to submit ourselves to His Lordship.

So let’s look to the One who called us to establish and keep us in the paths He has set for us and those He has given us charge over. And may His Spirit be our advocate and guide in all we do in His name and for His glory.

 

Take Action:

Are there dimensions of your leadership that are not led of the Holy Spirit? Make the invitation to Him today and ask Him to take over. Be intentional in following His lead from now on.

Christian Business

Kingdom Profit

The typical aim of getting into business is to make profit. The most common understanding of profit in the world of business is monetary. But what does profit look like in the context of kingdom business?

 

Purpose

God put each one of us on earth for a particular reason.

There is a divine mandate we all have as believers to lend a hand in the reconciliation of God and the fallen world. This includes not just people but the rest of creation in its various states and forms.

Unfortunately, this is often assumed to be solely the work of title-bearing ministers of the gospel when in fact it is a Great Commission for us all.

In particular, the marketplace has been a neglected arena for far too long where we’ve made it out to be territory for the world rather than the Church. Much like the 10 Israelite spies who thought of themselves as grasshoppers compared to the giants that occupied the land, we’ve bowed out before the battle even begins.

That needs to end.

The glory of God is supposed to cover the entire earth as the waters cover the sea. For me, this means, every aspect of our lives, including the marketplace requires our attention and commitment as believers.

You may not be called to have a title as a minister but your position in the marketplace beckons you into ministry.

 

People

Are people better for the existence of your business and your position in the marketplace or worse for it?

We lose out on many ministry opportunities in the marketplace when we limit ourselves to quoting Scripture rather than living it out as broadly and boldly as we can.

Regardless of what product/service your business offers, you have the unique opportunity to minister to people through how you offer it. Something as simple as how you treat a client/customer can be the avenue through which God uses you to encourage someone who’s sorely in need of it.

On the flipside, if your business is making money at the expense of people – whether your employees, colleagues, clients/customers, suppliers, etc – then you need to rethink the modus operandi of how you do business.

We cannot claim to be followers of Jesus – a man who was constantly moved with compassion to help people – when our work lives show the very opposite.

 

Promise

Are you a person of your word?

This may seem like an insignificant question but Scripture clearly gives an account of how the devil was overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of testimony (Revelation 12).

The value of a witness is found in the strength of their character. As witnesses of Christ to the world around us, we can only succeed in our mandate to the degree to which our lives attest that we are trustworthy. The words of our mouths mean little if they are in complete contradiction to the state of our minds, hearts and lives.

In a world where cutting corners and finding loopholes is the order of the day, something as basic as keeping a promise you made to someone can be a revolutionary thing.

Besides, why would God trust you with His word if you cannot even steward your own word?

 

Power

“Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

– Isaiah 9:7 NIV

This is one of the verses that challenges me the most when I think of the truth that undergirds it – regardless of all the chaos that exists in the world around me, the government of Christ is in a constant state of increase.

As a believer in business, this means that I have a mandate to uphold and increase His governance on the face of the earth notwithstanding the circumstances that exist. It’s the very reality of walking in divine authority that gives us power to calm the storms that rage around us.

If the reconciliation between God and creation is to be 1) maintained and 2) increased, we need to address the systems and structures of the world that go against the values of Christ. There is a kingdom environment that we need to establish in their place that is patterned after the nature of Christ and which acts as a greenhouse for the purpose of God for our lives, our generations and our world.

We cannot bring profit into the Kingdom of God without the power of the One who is seated on the throne. If we are to increase the government of Christ in every sphere of the business world, we need to be intentional in cultivating our relationship with God. The only way to bear fruit for God’s kingdom is to abide in the living Vine of the kingdom (Christ).

 

Money?

Does this mean that kingdom businesses should not seek to make money?

No.

It means that as we do kingdom business, money is in its rightful place on our list of priorities. We need to do business like people who actually believe God when He says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all things (including money) will be added unto us.

 

Take Action:

Is your marketplace expression profitable for the Kingdom of God?

What changes do you need to make to bear more fruit for His Kingdom?