Combining Business and Ministry
My life motto is to love God, encourage others, and spread the Word. I strive towards those goals, fail often and am so thankful for God's grace and Jesus sacrifice. Over the years, I've learned that integrating those priorities into all of my life is a challenge.
I believe that all of us tend toward compartmentalizing our lives. Pigeon-holing them into the various streams of our existence. Our work, home, family, church, and social compartments of our lives tend to be some of those areas. How many families put on one outward facing image when it is in terrible conflict at home?
A friend recently shared with me about his home life growing up. The picture of love and affection portrayed by his parents and siblings to the outside world was one of contentment, compatibility, and virtue. Then, hanging his head, he shared the reality of what went on at home. His father was a silent alcoholic with bottles discretely stashed throughout the house. While working two jobs to support the family, he also had a long affair with a co-worker. His mother was a special needs nurse in high demand and known for her kindness and caring. At home, he hesitatingly described her aa a shrew always picking at her children and husband. She also spent too much and kept the family in perpetual fear of poverty. He looked at me, and said, "How could that be? Knowing what's right and living so wrong?" I had no answer other than the affirmation of the "human condition", and that he did not have to be trapped by this reality. He could create a new one based on what Jesus taught with the power of the Holy Spirit to guide. While it felt like a platitude, it was solid advice.
This story is just one version of the siloed syndrome. The versions are diverse, and the stories are often very sad. Integrating our values into every nook and cranny of our lives is what Jesus had in mind when he gave that great command to love your neighbor as yourself and to spread the word while demonstrating our love. All of us need encouragement in this area because we fail so often.
Another siloed area that interests me is the disconnect between business and ministry. You can expand the conversation to include work and ministry. The juxtaposition of these two huge parts of our lives deserves some reflection and a new perspective. First, business or work is our means of earning money. Business has an entrepreneurial element while working for a business does not. Both have desired outcomes of fulfilling a personal need while responding to a marketplace need. Both have sustainability as desired outcomes and excellence as a metric of success. The goal is business with excellence or works with excellence. It is only through excellence that we reflect Jesus in all we do.
Ministry is the responsibility each Christian takes on when he or she decides to follow Jesus. The clearest definition of ministry I've found is "changed lives." Yours and my ministry is to impact and change the lives of those God puts in front of us or calls us to connect with, pointing them towards Jesus. So, the challenge is not to silo those two roles, but to integrate them. To bring them to a common understanding - an action plan with marketplace deliverables.
I've recently challenged our team at Envoy Financial with this Vision:
We are an ongoing business with excellence for a ministry purpose. Our purpose is to support every Christian we serve to put a Future Funded Ministry plan in place, envisioned and funded fully. Here is a simple and direct way to speak to both visualize and communicate the coming together of business and ministry. It recognizes business with its important role in providing a needed service and doing it with God-honoring excellence. It also shines a light on the greater purpose for all Christ-followers – the Kingdom purpose.
When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, he was describing a world consisting of His followers, ones who know the Father and His will through the Bible, and connectivity with his Holy Spirit. That dynamic relationship brings together all who love him and want to integrate his teaching and life-changing attitude that comes along with it. That Kingdom, with all of its vines and branches, is meant to be a powerful force for love, good, and growth.
Each of us has our individual role to play in this Kingdom building reality. We too have a community opportunity to impact the Kingdom as we move from our silos to our family, workplace, and business. Jesus recognized that we are stronger together and he called it "the church". He broke it down even into small dedicated groups by pointing out that where two or three are gathered together, the reflection and action plan of God is at work.
Yours and my challenge are to tear down our silos and grow in our spiritual maturity so those silos don't rise up. To be the same person, living with the same principles and reflecting Jesus in all we do, regardless of where we are, our position, or our role. God created us in His image, with great talents and abilities. When we walk in His way, connecting with our unique meaning and purpose, and reflecting His love in every circumstance, the fruits of the spirit will be ours and life will be good, regardless of the circumstance.
One of our staff shared a great insight recently as she stated, "All you have to do is love through the process, every process. And life is a process."
Business and ministry, work and ministry, life and ministry. Integrate it, live it, demonstrate it.