Some Do’s and Don’ts to Help Business Owners Live Out Their Faith
By Gary Kauffman
Leadership guru John C. Maxwell was once asked to discuss business ethics.
“There is no such thing as ‘business’ ethics,” Maxwell replied. “There is only ethics!”
His point was that we don’t have one set of ethics for our personal lives and another set for business or any other area of our lives. We should be consistent in all areas of our lives.
This is especially true for the Christian business owner. I once heard it said that God isn’t interested in your spiritual life; He’s interested in your life. The point is the same one that Maxwell made – we don’t live one way on Sunday morning and another way the rest of the week. We live by our Christian beliefs whether we’re in church or in our business or at the lake with the family. The goal is to live a consistently growing spiritual life.
Of course, as a Christian business owner you’ll want to treat your customers fairly and your employees with respect, be honest, don’t cheat or cut corners, meet your commitments and have clean restrooms. But that really doesn’t set you apart – those should be the goals of every business owner, whether they profess any kind of faith or not.
But in two decades of working with small businesses, many of them owned by Christians, I’ve discovered a few things that the Christian business owner should do – and some they shouldn’t.
- Do remember that you have a higher calling. Owning a business is a worthy vocation, but it is not listed among the spiritual gifts. Your highest calling and first priority is always your relationship with God.
- Do serve others. You are part of the community where your business is located, as well as where you live and where you attend church. God called us to love our neighbors. Stay aware of opportunities where you can either serve personally or through your business.
- Do pray. As stated above, God is interested in every aspect of your life, including your business. Pray daily for His guidance and blessing in your business. Make it His business, not yours.
- Do tithe. Hopefully your business is making a profit (the term for a business that doesn’t make money is ‘hobby’). Just like with your personal income, you should be giving back to God from the business profits. If you’re asking Him to bless your business, then you need to acknowledge that with your tithe.
- Don’t be consumed by the business. Running a successful business requires time and energy. But it can also demand all of your waking moments if you let it. That will affect your personal life – health, relationships and emotions – in negative ways. Try as much as possible to break from the business when you go home for the night and concentrate on your family and your church.
- Don’t undercut yourself. There is a temptation to feel guilty about making a profit as a Christian. I have seen Christian-owned businesses fail because of this. Remember, this is your livelihood and you have a right to earn a living. Proverbs 16:11 tells us to use honest balances and scales – it means that you don’t cheat your customers, but at the same time, don’t cheat yourself. Price your products and services fairly in the market.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself. You may feel like the success of your business is vital to representing God, and failure would give Him a bad reputation. But if you are seeking Him first He has promised to provide for your needs (Matt. 6:33). Relax and trust that He is far more capable of making a business successful than you are.
Gary Kauffman of North Augusta is a freelance writer and product photographer and is studying to become a Christian life coach. Contact him at email@example.com or 803-341-5830.