Priorities are what we do. Everything else is just talk!
If we shake off the contemporary cultural fiction that ‘religion and (fill in the blank) politics or business don’t mix’ and turn to the timeless Biblical reality that we have one life, lived before God, under the Lordship of Christ in which to make a difference in eternity, we begin to gain a clearer view of how to approach our life’s purpose. In years of conducting C12’s Creating a Strategic Action Plan for Ministry seminars across America, we’ve seen that even small businesses typically touch more people in the course of a year than all but the largest mega-churches! Our mission field is enormous, albeit generally unrecognized and largely untouched for Christ! We’ve also come to understand that seeing the gospel lived out in the marketplace is far more likely to move someone toward serious introspection than visiting a local church on Sunday morning and hearing from ‘professional’ ministers!
According to John Piper, in Don’t Waste Your Life, the call to be a Christian is not a call to leave your secular vocation. That’s the clear point of 1 Corinthians 7:17-24. Paul sums up his teaching there with these words: “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” (v24). Paul had a high view of the sovereignty of God – that God had sovereignly “assigned” or “called” unbelievers to positions in life where their conversion would have significant impact for His glory. Paul means that when we are converted we should not jump to the conclusion that our jobs must change. Rather our thought should be, God has put me here, and I should now display His worth in this job. Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ – to make Him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of Him by the way we work…our God-dependent, God-shaped, God-exalting work. If we simply work to earn a living – and if we labor for the bread that perishes – we will waste our lives. Piper goes on to say: “Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not know we are Christians is like admiring an effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.”
This brings us to the issue of our own habits and behavior. If we look like our lives are devoted to getting and maintaining things, we will mirror the world, and that will not point others to Christ. He’ll look like a religious side-interest, not like “an all-satisfying treasure.” Money and lifestyle are not a side issue in the Bible, as literally 15% of all Christ’s recorded words relate to this topic – more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined! Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you” (Mt 6:33).
Where do you stand? Today, it seems that the primary objective of most people’s career is to eliminate the need for it, to become ‘independently’ self-sufficient young enough to retire early and ‘enjoy it’. It wasn’t always so. In fact, there is no Biblical concept of such retirement! It doesn’t take very long in studying lottery winners and second generation heirs of great wealth to learn that such material wealth doesn’t lead to contentment. Why do we so often feel a longing to live out our faith Monday through Saturday, but conclude that ‘we have to go to work instead’? Work should be a place where you live out your faith, reflecting what God is doing in your life. To God, work is a vital arena because we are in close, constant contact with tons of people, and people matter more to God than anything else! In fact, this is the environment where we have the most contact and influence with the most people, simply because of our roles and the fact that we spend more of our time there than we spend anywhere else.
As a Christian Business Owner or CEO, you have the wonderful opportunity to shape a special environment for yourself and many others, with a distinctive corporate purpose and culture based on a Christ-centered set of core values! Even in today’s politically-correct culture, it is still legal for a CEO to cast a vision and develop an organization committed to carrying it out! There are many examples, from small family businesses to large publicly-traded enterprises that are doing just that! As Regi Campbell said in his recent book, About My Father’s Business: “Excelling Christians have welded their life purpose to their work purpose. They are fully integrated. While they do their secular jobs (and do them well), they have a spiritual purpose every day…fully effective in what they do for a living and fully effective as an ambassador for the Lord.”
“You must be careful how you walk, and where you go, for there are those following you who will set their feet where yours are set.” -