I am honored to be able to share with you today another guest posting from one of our blogroll members. Sue Miley is the founder of the Christian Business Crossroads blog where she shares very practical ways that small business owners can improve their operations using Biblical financial principles.
It’s a great blog, and I highly recommend it. Her guest post today is an example of the thought-provoking action-sparring writing you’ll find there.
Are You a Lukewarm or Full Throttle Christian Business Owner?
I was in the coffee business for twelve years and became somewhat of a fanatic. I carried a cup of coffee around like Linus carried his blanket. If you knew me at all you knew that the cup of coffee was replaced, as soon as the coffee cooled down, whether it was empty or not.
Why? The flavor changes and becomes more rancid. The feel on your tongue changes too. It transforms to a sludge viscosity. The rich intoxicating aroma dissipates with the steam. It is startling to pick up a cup that has been sitting awhile. You take a sip of the lukewarm brown liquid and have an almost involuntary urge to spit it out!
I recently read Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, and there is a chapter on what it looks like to be a lukewarm Christian. It is based upon this passage in the book of Revelation:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. – Revelation 3:15-17 (NIV)
Lukewarm is definitely not what Jesus wants from us. He isn’t wishy-washy about it. He tells us clearly he wants all of us; our entire life.
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. – Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. – Matthew10:38 (NIV)
The web has several definitions of lukewarm:
- moderately warm; “he hates lukewarm coffee”; “tepid bath water”
- halfhearted: feeling or showing little interest or enthusiasm; “a halfhearted effort”; “gave only lukewarm support to the candidate”
- lukewarmly – in an unenthusiastically lukewarm manner; “he was lukewarmly received by his relatives”
I don’t want to be lukewarm. I can’t imagine a worse description. Lukewarm to me says apathetic. Jesus died on the cross for me. His love for us is so passionate that He was willing to sacrifice His life for us. The cross is a symbol of torture. His suffering was intense. There was nothing lukewarm about it. Is our response to Him commensurate with His sacrifice for us?
What does a Lukewarm Christian in Business Look Like?
I think we are lukewarm Christian business owners when we don’t put our zeal and passion for Christ as the foundation for our business. Sure we are good people. We will give to charity and provide benefits for our employees. But, we do what is comfortable. We do what we feel is necessary to be successful by the world’s standards.
If you are like me, you may see glimpses of a lukewarm faith represented in your business. As I was reading Francis Chan’s description of the lukewarm Christian, my indifference was broken. I felt hot as the tears welled up in my eyes. When did I slip? As I closed them to stop the overflow, memories flooded into the darkness. Memories of a life transformed when I chose to make Jesus my Lord and Savior.
Then the fire was burning. I had an impatient desire to leave everything behind and live full throttle for Christ.
What would it look like if we reignited the flame? How would our business be transformed?
A Full Throttle Christian business person…
1 . …gives the worry to God, and steps out in faith.
Jesus tells us not to worry. Worrying about our business all of the time leads to micro-management, strained relationships, and self-fulfilling prophecies.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:26-27 (NIV)
If we didn’t spend the time and emotional energy on worry, our customers and employees would see our passion to glorify God in all that we as a company did!
Our time would be spent on working in our business and achieving our goals!
Our relationships would flourish as our attitudes reflected hope and peace?
2. …. has a system of measuring success based on Kingdom metrics.
Wouldn’t it be cool if, as a Christian business, we set our success metrics based upon how much of our profits we were able to give to help the poor?
Or by how many families we are able to support through employment?
Or by how many hours we can free up for our employees to serve outside the company?
We need to understand basic financial principles to make wise business decisions, but I would be awed by the business I walked into that had the poster on the wall tracking what percent of company profits given away to those in need. Not how many dollars were given to charity. The dollars may seem big, but the percent could be miniscule.
God wants us to give in sacrifice, not just what is easy from our wealth.
3. …wisely transfers Biblical principles to their business.
- We aren’t supposed to be unequally yoked in marriage; I think the same principle should apply to my business partnerships!
- We aren’t supposed to seek legal action or bring our brothers to court; I will plan wisely so that if biblical methods of resolving conflict don’t work, I will just have to let it go.
- We aren’t supposed to judge others by what they have or how they look; I will serve everyone and have special funds available to do pro bono work regularly.
4. …knows that you can’t walk on water unless you step out of the boat.
We want to be wise in our decision-making. We will pray and seek Godly counsel. But our trust is in Him and we will not let FEAR and Satan’s lies keep us from pursuing the vision that God has given us.
5. …knows, literally, that all we have is really God’s anyway.
We are called to invest God’s resources back into His Kingdom. That may take many different forms. We may invest for growth in order to expand our giving each year. We may give away all excess profits each year after paying our bills. The key is investing in God’s Kingdom.
If we are honest with ourselves, many times we take the additional profits out of the business for our own personal use. Standards of living typically grow; requiring higher levels of income to sustain our personal lives. Either that, or we begin to store up our personal treasures here on earth.
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘”But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12: 16-21 (NIV)
Take Your Own Inventory – Are You a Lukewarm or a Full Throttle Christian Business Owner?
If I am honest, just as my cup of coffee cools down, sometimes my dedication to living full throttle for Christ depletes. I can’t say it is ever a conscious decision. It just creeps in when I get complacent.
What do you think?
Do we really trust God if we are storing up our riches? Are we loving others like we would ourselves if we are giving a small portion of our business success to others, yet continuing to increase our own personal wealth?
I am taking inventory right now. I need to make some changes.
What about you? Are you full-throttle living for God or do you need to heat things up a bit? What can you do today to follow Jesus in your business?