A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of eating breakfast with a local business hotshot. The whole thing was arranged by my boss as a mentoring opportunity. During our conversation, the polished lady sitting across from me asked about my career objectives. I told her about my desire to help people apply biblical principles for business success and marketplace impact.
Knowing this lady didn’t share my faith, I then shoved a biscuit in my mouth while anxiously awaiting her response. She was silent for a moment, then said (partly to herself), “People really are hungry for purpose and significance, aren’t they?” You bet. Driving the point home was the fact that our company president had recently quit to become a minister. A few months earlier, one of our vice presidents shocked everyone by taking a massive pay cut to pursue “a calling from the Lord.” No wonder the lady across the table was intrigued.
As Bob Dylan said, the times, they are a-changin’. While researching marketplace trends and forecasts for a writing assignment, I noticed that emerging value shifts typically fall under three themes: Simplification, Balance, and an insatiable thirst for Significance. I suggest both the root and answer for all three can be summed up in one word: Relationships.
It’s no coincidence that relationships are at the core of successful business models and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures do not call us to religion, but to a genuine, personal relationship with Christ and with each other. Being a catalyst for change in today’s (and tomorrow’s) marketplace means we must invest in God and in people.
So why aren’t we doing it? One obstacle is busyness and the clutter that comes with it. Fear is another roadblock. What will people think? What if my faith is politically incorrect? What if the right choice is the least profitable one? Then there’s the unfortunate inclination to treat God as a spiritual Santa Claus, using prayer as a substitute for obedience, as A.W. Tozer explained:
Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late — and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble.
In future posts, we’ll address some of these roadblocks and value shifts. Meanwhile, it’s been said that the best way to feed relationships and foster change in our organizations, communities and spheres of influence is to accept people as they are. After all, that’s what Jesus does. Yet, because He loves us, He refuses to leave us as we are. Any way we look at life or business, we’re either polluters or part of the cleanup team. Take your pick.
Two things to keep in mind as we explore biblical principles for success and fruitful relationships: Truth, by its own definition, is exclusive. In the words of best-selling author and apologist Ravi Zacharias, “all-inclusive philosophies can only come at the cost of truth” (Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message). Applying the truth of the Scriptures to our daily grind is the absolute wisest thing you and I can do to make a positive impact in our jobs and in the marketplace.
Second, too many counterfeit believers serve up a watered-down, distorted version of the gospel that requires as much commitment as ordering a cup of coffee. They dilute God’s Word until it is as potent as decaf with skim milk, and then wonder why the world isn’t moved by it. This mishandling of the gospel gives true followers of Christ a black eye and bad rep. (Which reminds me of St. Augustine’s words: “Never judge a philosophy by its abuse.”)
In a world where the rules of engagement change at dizzying speed, some things just never change.