Lessons for Christians from Secular Business Thinking

Image: Sebastiaan ter Burg / Flickr
Image: Sebastiaan ter Burg / Flickr

Do good and serve others: Biblical lessons from unlikely places.

“To imagine none can teach you but those who are themselves saved from sin, is a very great and dangerous mistake. Give not place to it for a moment.” – John Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

There is sometimes an instinct within Christian leadership that downplays business thinking. After all, the church has a different purpose than a business, so why should it operate like one? A few leaders go as far as saying that “business thinking is ruining the church.”

Increasingly, though, we see Christian leaders and organizations opening up to the insights of the business world: leadership development, teamwork, productivity, people management, and more. Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit, Catalyst, and other training grounds for church leaders apply such principles with great effectiveness. Christian authors and speakers like Jon Acuff bring these principles directly into their work.

That’s what I sought to do when I was on the leadership team of a major evangelical ministry, and it’s what I seek to do in my books, including What’s Best Next. I have found it essential for Christians leaders to seek out and learn from secular business thinkers. Using a biblical framework, we become better leaders, and better Christians, when we do.

One of the best-kept secrets is that much of the strongest business thinking lines up with a biblical worldview. We see this in two of the most significant trends in business thinking: an emphasis on purpose and on service.

Putting Purpose over Profit
Business is often maligned for sacrificing people at the altar of profit. As the stereotype goes, if you want to succeed, you need to make profit your ultimate aim and be willing to step on people.

Sure, many businesses operate this way. But today’s most popular and successful business thinkers advise the opposite. In his landmark book Built to Last, business consultant Jim Collins makes the case that companies that put profit ahead of their desire to serve people and contribute to society actually make less in the long run.

Conversely, the companies that prioritize their mission, saying things like, “We are ultimately in business to make a contribution; profit matters, but it’s not the goal,” are the ones who fare better financially. How? This approach creates trust and goodwill with customers, building the company’s brand in a positive way.

Further, because their aim is to truly benefit people, not just make a sale and run, these companies create better products. They’re the ones people want to do business with and buy from, often promoting them enthusiastically through word of mouth (the best form of marketing).

On the other hand, companies that put making money ahead of their mission typically end up cutting corners and ticking off their customers.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today

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