Before I began my current path in business, I worked for a company that maintained faith within the workplace. We would start our monthly meetings with the local pastor saying a prayer over the team and asking for guidance to fall upon the business and the staff. It’s not a common scene today as fear has filled business owners across America that they could find themselves in court over such activities.
This wasn’t the 60s. It wasn’t the 80s. It wasn’t even the 90s. This was 2007. I wasn’t working at a Christian bookstore, a faith-based charity, or an activist agency. I was working at a car dealership. Today, we see secularism dominating business to the point that discussion of religion is often against company policy and the thought of openly discussing faith is taboo, but it wasn’t so long ago that these types of practices were much less risky and much more accepted.
Now, I own my own business. We are a secular business and we follow the law of the land that says we cannot make hiring decisions based upon faith. We don’t ask. We’re not allowed. Thankfully, we’ve been blessed with great people, some of whom outwardly confess their belief in Yeshua as Lord and Savior.
Maintaining a separation of faith and business is a very thin line. We do not instigate religious principles into our business at a company level, though some of us have prayed together. Still, it’s challenging to tiptoe through, feeling pulled from one direction to let the Holy Spirit guide our decisions for the business while trying to avoid any practices that can get us in trouble with the law. Here are some things that I’ve learned in the first year as a business owner that may help others facing similar challenges.
Seek by Demonstration
While the law may prevent me from overtly “intimidating” anyone on my team who is not a follower of Christ, it does not prevent me from expressing my faith publicly as an individual. Even before I started my business, I was open and proud of my faith and published as much on this blog, other blogs, and through my social media profiles.
By demonstrating my faith outwardly, which we should be willing to do regardless of whether we own a business or not, it allows others to gain an understanding of me and to feel comfortable with approaching me about my faith. For some, this has translated into partners, team members, and even clients acknowledging that they know of my faith and willing to discuss it with me. For others, particular a couple of competitors and others in my industry, it has turned into debates and condemnation.
You have to be willing to accept both. The good will come with bad. The positives will have negatives attached to them. A bold willingness to take criticism is necessary if you want to know where others stand. It can be risky. It can cost you some business. It also opens the doors to find other brothers and sisters in Christ while enabling opportunities to have discussions with those who have not found Him yet.
We are commanded to pray, to give blessing and to worship our Father. We are also told that our Father knows our needs before we ever need to utter them. Still, it’s important to gain guidance through prayer in our private as well as our business lives.
Pray for your company. Pray for your team. Pray for your competition. Most importantly, pray in gratitude and humility to the Lord who has made all things possible for you. Through the good times, we can see the glory of God. Through the rough times, we are challenged with tribulations to remain faithful and stay the course.
Whether you read the Bible or listen to scientific studies, both have shown the tremendous power of prayer, particularly when done as a group. When you’ve identified those within your company who share your faith, be willing to pray with them, to pray about them, and to ask them for their prayers on behalf of those things important to you and of mutual importance as well.
On one hand, we promote the idea of being careful in a secular world, but this is only a mild warning. Boldly professing your faith with your team and having a willingness to pray with them can be dangerous, but if you’re going to face troubles, I’d rather face the troubles of men wanting to take down my business because of my faith rather than the consequences of hiding from it behind the facade of political correctness.
Obey the 4th Commandment
This is arguably the most important yet most underutilized aspect of applying faith to business. In America, so many businesses operate on the Sabbath. This is clearly against the Commandments of our Lord.
Now is not the time to discuss whether Sabbath is on Saturday or Sunday, though we’ve gone pretty in-depth about that in the past. It’s also a debate that is challenging to have with your team even if you do know the truth, so we’ve instituted a weekends-off mentality. I still remember the time when we had an employee break this Commandment and do work for a client on the Sabbath. It was a terrible mistake and it will haunt me for as long as I own this business.
Your business should never force others or you to choose between honoring the day of rest or doing work. If it does, you are in the wrong business. It has become too acceptable in America and around the world to disobey this Commandment. The only way to keep a clear conscience and truly operate your business with faith is to hold strictly to this Commandment. Your team will appreciate it, even if they are not yet believers.
Not All is Fair in Business
It is in our hearts to know right from wrong. This is one of the greatest gifts that the Lord gave to us. We no longer have to be told the Torah in order to understand the basic laws of life (though it’s still a very idea to read it as well).
Some businesses keep such a separation of business and faith that they’re willing to do wrong for the sake of competitive advantage. These unscrupulous activities that we know in our hearts to be wrong must be avoided. It’s easy to do things for the sake of success that go against operating a business guided by our faith, but if success comes at a price that goes against the teachings of the Bible, it’s a price that is too high to pay.
Detach from the World
Someday, I hope to be able to dedicate my life to ministry. I know that all will be provided for me if I let true faith guide all that I do, but it’s so hard to let go of this world and pursue a righteous path when family needs, bills, and temptation keep us so entrenched in it all.
Remember that a business, no matter how beneficial it might be for you or others, is still a business of this world. Never let that get in the way of your salvation and never let it hinder others from finding theirs.