“I am who you say I am.”
This famous song lyric means one thing but explains another.
You see, I’m a Christian business owner and I’d like the chance to explain what that means. Others have defined this for us; maybe it’s time I said what it actually means to me.
I think you’ll be surprised with what I’m about to say. I’d be honored if you’d give me a few minutes to finish.
First, let’s define Christian so we’re all on the same page. A Christian is a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ (and someone who accepts that Jesus is who He says He is).
And as a follower of Christ we are called to just two things; it’s not any more complicated than that:
- To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.
- To love your neighbor as yourself.
In looking at these two callings there is simply not an employee alive who wouldn’t be positively impacted by working for someone who strives to live each day by these two principles. Not an Atheist, Jew, Gentile, Muslim or Agnostic. All would be blessed to work for such a person.
Now let me explain why.
When someone promises to love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind what they really promise is to have no other God. This is big, don’t miss it.
They commit to never making a God out of anyone (or anything) else. In effect, they promise not to make a god of themselves!
They commit to not making a god out of money, fame, popularity, sexual conquest, power or any other worldly attraction. It isn’t so much the God they promise to love that benefits employees, it’s the gods they promise NOT to love that makes the huge difference.
I’ve had people in business scold me about too much God and how God and work don’t mix. I would gently remind them that they bring their gods to work too – as they rail on about money, power, being right or some other such idol.
Most everyone has worked for an owner whose god was of this world. How’d that work out? (Disclaimer: I am guilty of this myself at times, unfortunately.)
You don’t need to personally love God with all your heart, strength, soul and mind, but you just might want to work for someone that does. They routinely block out all the other gods, and those gods are generally very bad for staff, clients and vendors.
The second call is to love (the action) our neighbor.
It doesn’t say love our Christian neighbor, our white neighbor, our straight neighbor or our American neighbor. It says neighbor, as someone “situated next to or very near”. This means that love is required of a Christian business owner for all their employees, referral partners, customers and vendors. EVERYONE. This is a standard that non-Christian owners may or may not agree with, but we have no choice in the matter.
So what does love @work look like? Well, it can be seen in delivering hard truth with grace instead of frustration or anger. It can be seen by teaching the why instead of just the how. It can be seen by paying someone a sick day when they had no sick time left. It can be seen investing in what and who matters most to them in their life. It can even be seen in firing someone with a spirit of hope and humility.
Last thing to say: a follower of Christ understands that it is not their job to “save you”, so whether God calls you to the Faith or not, the owner won’t see it as their job. Worrying about an evangelical CEO who won’t stop trying to save you is worrying about someone who knows they can’t!
As a Christian business owner, I live not to be who you say I am but who HE says I am. I hope hearing this side of the story today encourages you to embrace owners who embrace Jesus, or at least see them in a different light. A much brighter one.
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