How’s Your Temp Christian Business Owner?

by Sue Miley on September 1, 2010 in Entrepreneurs

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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?

By Sue Miley from Christian Business Crossroads

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?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Harmon September 1, 2010 at 9:24 am

Wow! There are so many great points in this post. I love the ideas you have under using Kingdom metrics. Just imagine what an impact businesses could have on the problems facing our society. Some organizations have done a great job in this area, and have made this service a core principle of their corporate purpose. It still surprises me how many Christian Business Owners don’t think their business has a role to play in this area. Thanks for a great guest post.

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1prophetspeaks September 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I am a christian musician. years ago I had my own record label and was marketing tapes that I had written and produced. I decided to try an experiment. I did a mailing and told people “send what you can afford” instead of charging a set price. Some people sent nothing, others sent more than the normal rate for a tape. What was interesting was that the amount I got was exactly what I would have made if I had charged the going rate. So it balanced out. God blessed it. I think all creative artists should give their work away and just take donations and trust God this way. I have written books on my website 1prophetspeaks.com and God told me to put it there for free. If I could find a way to publish the books and put them in bookstores as well for donations instead of set prices, that is what I would like to do. But obviously the stores would have to go along with this. I don’t think christians should charge for bibles. or worship tapes or christian books. It should all be by donation. Christian bookstores could certainly operate this way, and I believe they should. It would set an example to the secular stores. How wonderful would it be if all christian owned stores sold things by donation rather than set price. What a testimony. When God inspires a creati ve work, I believe it should be freely shared “Freely ye are given, freely ye shall give”. I know he meant the gospel, but when tgeh holy spirit inspires a creative work, it doesn’t seem right to charge a price for it. that is like chargingfor the holy spirit and that is wrong. My books are prophetic messages; it would be wrong for me to charge for them. One of my books is Manual for Transformational Healing-God’s answer to psychiatry. it is about the atheism behind psychiatry and how God wants to heal us thru prayer/worship instead. check it out. 1prophetspeaks.com

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Brad Harmon September 1, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I’ve seen many fundraisers use this type of pricing model. I’ve even used it in our youth group. Most people report better results than if they had simply set a donation price. It’s an interesting approach to operate one’s business this way. I wonder if the application of this concept isn’t limited though?

Paul tackled the concept of being paid to preach the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 9:1-17, where he clearly laid out a justification that elders should be compensated for their preaching of the Gospel as a vocation. Then he turns around and refuses any compensation for himself.

Of course, I guess your suggestion is just a pricing model difference and not an argument against being compensated. I think it’s a voluntary choice so not sure that I agree with you that Christian bookstores, writers, musicians, etc. “should” not set a price for their products. I can’t find Scripture that supports or discourages either model. Your suggestion would take much more faith though.

Interesting concepts. Thanks for the comment.

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1prophetspeaks September 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I just remembered, the christian musician Keith Green also sold his tapes by donation or free.

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Sue Miley September 2, 2010 at 7:46 am

In the counseling world many counselors charge based on a sliding scale which is sort of similar to the donation concept; however, it places the counselor in the situation of making a judgement decision each time. On the counseling side of my practice I have stated prices and charge accordingly. Then if someone in need is referred to me I will usually work with them free of charge. I sort of feel that God will send those to me who I am supposed to help and I try to be obedient.

I love the concept of donations and think often about how I could make that work. I haven’t given up yet!

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Mike @ Biblical Strategies for Startups September 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm

I agree with Brad! There’s definitely a lot of stuff here. The only thing I wish you had gone into was the Kingdom metrics part. I was hoping you had gone into ROE and ROI or just delved into what you wrote a bit more.

But other than that there is definitely a lot of passion here

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Brad Harmon September 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Perhaps Sue will expand on it in a future blog post here, or on her blog. I’d love to see where she would go with it.

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Sue Miley September 2, 2010 at 7:37 am

I think the part I have been most taken with is the Kingdom metrics myself. I am expanding it in an upcoming home study course on starting and building a business on a foundation of Christian values. There are so many examples of how God measures compared to traditional marketplace metrics.

I think the Holy Spirit will lead each of us as to what is the most important measurement for our endeavors. The bible tells us that the reward for our investment return is more to be invested. The alternative is “gnashing of teeth”. We know we aren’t supposed to “build bigger barns” and just store up our riches.

If we are living for God and trusting Him fully, I know whatever we do will be outside of our comfort zone.

Right now I look at things like, how many people did I pray with this week in the course of my business? How many hours of work was I able to donate for those in need? In reviewing my financials I look at what I spend money on in two categories: 1. expenses needed to maintain 2. expenses that invest in helping more. That is how I manage increased expenses. If it is helping me further Kingdom work – ok. If it is just more cost to make the same impact, I need to look at efficiencies.

Oh, well too long to explore here. Feel free to email me your thoughts!

Thanks for input Mike and Brad!

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Bradley J. Moore September 2, 2010 at 5:14 am

I agree that the linkage of our faith into our working life is a conscious effort that requires ongoing revitalization and nurturing through fellowship, accountability, solitude, worship, etc. It’s easy to slip away and get caught up in the stuff we are working on, rather than the deeper spirit that is the author of our work.

Although I am not a business owner (I am in management), I have seen the power of turning more of my business life over to God in real practical ways. Because he cares about our business, our work, what we are doing. Thank God, His grace goes before me – because it is impossible for me to be “full throttle” 100% of the time.

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Brad Harmon September 2, 2010 at 7:26 am

Jim Rohn used to say that we are all business owners. Some of us just choose to take on one customer at a time and call them an employer. I like that thought. It reminds me that we are really always in control of our work environment. I also like the thought of God’s grace going before us. I am regularly in need of that.

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Sue Miley September 2, 2010 at 7:42 am

I was re-reading Bob Buford’s book Finishing Well. It is the sequel to his book Half Time. Although there are always seeds planted from various sources, his books were a motivator for me to leave the corporate business world and go back to school to be a counselor.

As another example of God’s grace going before us – my change was to follow God. His plan was to lead me where I could help people personally and continue in business through business coaching. I agree Bradley, all we can do is try…He will finish the work in us.

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1prophetspeaks September 2, 2010 at 9:17 am

It says in 1 peter “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracle of God’. So that means any counselor should only be speaking from the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t sit right with me that someone would “charge” as a counselor to “speak from the Holy spirit”. Jesus didn’t charge people to hear his messages. i think the answer is to give freely and do it all by donation.

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1prophetspeaks September 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

Brad you moderated a comment of mine because you thought it was too off topic. This raises an issue that is relevant for any christian in business. God interrupts us all the time to do HIS agenda and he uses bait and switch all the time to do his agenda. For ex. a person walks into a store owned by a christian to do business, but God uses the christian owner to speak to them about GOd. God used bait and switch to get the client there in the first place, putting the thought in their head to go there for another purpose. AS sue mentioned, she tries to be sensitive to the spirit to use her business to share with clients. that is gods purpose for our businesses. likewise, the Holy spirit can use a blog on one topic to lead someone there to hear another message that God would have them hear, even if it seems off topic. We shouldnt be controllilng about this, we should let the spirit be in charge and use us in all the diverse ways he wants to. I see christian posts about end times prophesies all the time on other websites; they are offtopic, but God is using them to get his messages across. Don’t you think that therefore a christian site should ALSO allow “off topic messages” that are messages from God to reach whomever it needs to reach? I know some of these discussions can lead to diversionary discussions, but a person reading them can skim them and skip what is not of interest to them, and the others who are interested can read it. God is so multi faceted and has so many simultaneous agendas that I think we need to let him use us to do his work. since christian counselors are business people, i don’t think it is wrong for me to also speak to them about other aspects of the nature of their work. my messages are important. also, you never know who else is reading this; The message may be relevant to them even though they weren’t looking for it at the time. I can imagine a scenario where a person prays for healing about something, then goes to their computer to “work” on something else, and low and behold, on an unrelated site, they see a message about healing from God! God does that kind of stuff all the time, if we let him use us. 1prophetspeaks.com Free prophetic book on healing, warning about atheistic psychiatry. Manual for Transformational Healing-God’s answer to psychiatry.

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Brad Harmon September 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm

As an editor, part of my responsibility is to make sure the site stays on topic to accomplish the purpose and vision that God has given me for this site. We are all called to fulfill different purposes, and the subject matter of this blog is my calling.

You added a blurb at the end of your first comment (and also this one) that was not on topic which I chose not to moderate. If people are interested they will follow the link back to your site. This site is also equipped with CommentLuv which allows you to provide a link to one of your latest posts using the post’s title.

In my opinion, this gives anyone who is interested in hearing your thoughts on psychiatry an opportunity to read them without diverting the discussion away from it’s topic. The comment I chose to moderate clearly did not do this which is why it was removed.

My actions were not meant to offend you, or even to express an opinion on your comment. I don’t know that God is a God of bait-and-switch, but I know He is not a God of chaos (1 Cor 14:33). If He wishes to lead someone to explore the topic of psychiatry further, He will not be stopped by my moderation of your comment.

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Laurie Neumann September 2, 2010 at 9:26 pm

This is a very convicting post. I appreciate you sharing this with us, Sue. I’ll definitely take this to thought and prayer.

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Sue Miley September 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Thanks for reading Laurie. It was very convicting as I wrote it. Sometimes I have to consciously take these beliefs from concept to practice. Saw your website. It looks like you have been on a similar path!

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