My pastor doesn't understand me!" A man desperate to be a blessing for God stood before me, yet he was filled with frustration because he felt his pastor didn't understand him. God had given this man a special gift to be a blessing for the kingdom, but he was not utilizing his gift to its full potential.
Shortly thereafter, another business professional shared the same challenge with me, then another and another. Each of these professionals confessed the same frustration. Their spiritual leaders did not understand their needs and gifts as businessmen.
I could see the problem as clear as day. They wanted the best of both worlds, connection with God but also marketplace influence. With that goal in mind, they wanted a spiritual leader who understood them while being guided into greater truth. They didn't need another motivational leader. Rather, they needed a man or woman of God who could pray with them and challenge them from a biblical standpoint to live the most influential life possible. Bottom line, they wanted to be influential for the kingdom of God, and they needed a pastor to help guide them.
This is where my business coaching began. My goals in assisting these marketplace leaders were simple:
- Help them grow spiritually
- Help them increase in influence through biblical principles
- Help them set standards that would influence every sphere of life
- Train them to have family, business and life from the Lord's perspective
- Help them understand that business is a ministry
- Talk to other ministers to understand why there may be a wall between ministry and business
In communicating with other ministers, I realized there was much to learn about how they should address the business professionals in their care.
The following are the key principles that came to the fore in responding to this common frustration:
Material vs. Spiritual
Some ministers have the perspective that sacred and secular should not meet. Many spiritual leaders are trained to think that money is materialistic and evil, but business in and of itself is not evil. In fact, business and ministry are similar.
Business is based upon covenant relationships, as is ministry. The Bible is a book of covenants. Jesus was a carpenter in His earthly father's business, and He was a minister in His heavenly Father's business. Jesus considered His calling "being about my Father's business," as stated in Luke 2:49. He was fulfilling a covenant with His Father. This should make it easy for ministers and business professionals to work together. Yet the challenges are real. Why?
Business is about bottom lines, margins, profits, values, measurable risk and measurable results—all of which must be measured. Ministry seems to be about the opposite. Ministry is about love, hope, faith, eternity and the unseen. Spirituality is not measurable. From the world's understanding, anything that is measurable is material. So on the surface, businesspeople are materialist, while ministers are spiritual. But if that were true, Jesus would also be considered materialistic. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matt. 7:19). Jesus called it "bringing forth fruit." In business, it's called ROI. Tracking a return on investment is a way to determine if the covenant is benefiting both parties.
It's About People
Even though, at a glance, business appears to be materialistic, it's not. Business is a spiritual activity that is measured by material results. Business is about people. Businesses are built by people who have emotions, people who need to grow spiritually and emotionally. Professionals can only grow their businesses to the level of their spiritual or soul capacity. The same is true for their employees.
Business is more than developing an organization. Business develops employees with values, character and skills. These are the aspects of business that are not measurable. Business is a powerful, people-development process. People are moved by vision, another aspect of business that is spiritual. "By faith we understand that the universe was framed by the word of God, so that things that are seen were not made out of things which are visible" (Heb. 11:3).
Money or Influence
Entrepreneurship is about creating more than it is about making money. Of course, money is one reason entrepreneurs are in business, but there's more. Bill Gates started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation because life is about more than making money. There is an internal force driving businesspeople to achieve. They desire to make a difference and live a life of significance. It's a God-given desire, a desire to live a life that matters. It's about influence. Yet there is a stumbling block to this drive. It's the temptation to love money more than influence. The love of money is a spiritual condition. It has the potential to choke out the power of influence. The way to keep from the temptation of the love of money is to focus on influence.
Business professionals use spiritual influences such as faith, hope, joy and peace to influence the world around them every day. They motivate people to perform at levels they never thought possible. Professionals create business systems and processes to produce the same result every time. They overcome limitations. These are the same tools needed for them to be successful in their homes as well as at the office.
Standards of Influence
Years ago, I coached a man who was an extremely successful salesman, the top in his field in the U.S. market. He said the key to his success was that he hated poverty. This hatred influenced his decisions in the marketplace, yet he didn't realize he was experiencing relational poverty in his home. He was blind to the poverty in his life. He only knew there were frustrations at home but never associated them with poverty. He didn't set the same standard for success at home as he did at work. Therefore, he didn't realize he possessed the power to have the same success and influence in his home. He set standards on the sales floor that gave him the success he desired in his career, and once he recognized the lack in his family life, he established standards to be successful at home as well. He set standards in his communication, attention to detail and in other areas. These small corrections changed his home life.
In business, in ministry and at home, standards will raise the bar and break limits. God uses standards to overcome restriction and resistance. Standards influence whatever environment they are used to engage.
According to the 1828 Webster's Dictionary, the word influence means "to flow in; referring to substances spiritual or too subtle to be visible, like inspiration." Influence is a substance spiritual or too subtle to be visible. If we as ministers allow our God-given influence to be like water, we will transform the world as we consistently inspire business professionals toward greatness. We can help business leaders become ministers of influence. We do this by helping them set standards that work in any sphere.
Business leaders look for standards that will put them on top of their game. Achievers enjoy a good challenge. The worst thing we can do for businessmen and women is to lower the standards for them. Pastors are God's gift to help marketplace ministers walk in their God-given potential. God sent them to your ministry for you to help them. Your influence in their lives will dramatically transform their thinking and lifestyles.
Grace for Influence
Spiritual business leaders have God's grace available so that, through grace, they can experience greater influence in the marketplace. Paul writes to the Corinthian church about influential grace: "Now concerning spiritual gifts" (1 Cor. 12:1). The original manuscript does not have the word "gifts" in it. The original is more consistent with: "Now concerning spirituals, I don't want you to be ignorant." Translators of the Word of God use the word "gifts" to translate charisma. The word is also translated as "grace" or "favor." The best way we can help our business leaders is to associate charisma with favor and grace. Grace empowers us to reach heights that are humanly impossible.
Grace is a spiritual business leader's secret weapon. Once a business leader identifies a problem, she goes to work on it to remove all limits. The power of God is available to business leaders to empower them to be more influential in every area of life.
Years ago, I went through a season of acquisitions. The businesses, buildings and ministries I acquired were in disrepair and distressed. As I worked on these projects, they all began to turn around. I prayed for insight as to why I was given one opportunity after another on projects that needed repair. Then one day, a thought hit me: It's the gift of healing. What an "aha" moment for me!
After further study, I realized the "gift of healing" could also be "a grace for restoration." I also realized that the "gift of wisdom" is the "grace for solutions." I soon discovered that each of the gifts of the Spirit has an amazing marketplace grace—grace that empowers business leaders to have great influence. The more I study influence, the more I recognize the grace of God for success in the marketplace.
According to Ezekiel, the kingdom of God is to influence the world through a stream that flows from the house of God.
"Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and water was flowing out from under the threshold of the temple eastward, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing down from under from the right side of the temple, south of the altar" (Ezek. 47:1).
The stream increased in depth and strength the farther away it flowed from the house of God. The further away from the house of God a believer goes, the greater the grace of God must be in his life. The greater the grace, the greater the influence. The standard of the kingdom of God is to influence the marketplace. We are to teach God's standards to our business leaders, marking them as marketplace ministers.
If a business leader has 500 employees, they have 500 people who need pastoral ministry. A business leader with 500 employees will need to prepare differently for their workday to handle the challenges before him. He must prepare like a ministry leader does and start the day with a devotional, which includes prayer, Bible reading and listening to God for direction. God will cooperate with these business leaders to help them be ministers of influence. The greater the influence, the greater the success. The greater the success, the greater credibility the business professional will experience.
In summary, these are the key points business leaders need to prioritize and areas in which their pastors can help:
1) Honor covenant relationships.
2) Pursue the standards of the Bible.
3) Walk in God's grace and favor for influence.
4) Pursue influence, not wealth. Wealth will follow influence.
5) Embrace the power to make money and do business as a spiritual pursuit.
6) Prayerfully gain insight and understanding into the Holy Spirit's grace for the marketplace, such as grace for restoration or grace for solutions.
7) Pursue a vision that can only be achieved through God's grace and favor.
God wants to use the pastor and his ministry to develop ministers of influence who will impact the marketplace. In leading the church, the pastor is graced to equip these ministers of business who will become ministers of influence. The challenge for pastors is to embrace their calling to raise up marketplace ministers and to embrace the business leaders in their congregations who will increase in influence in the marketplace.
Tracey Armstrong and his wife, Nathalie, are the pastors at Seattle's Citadel Church. A coach to businesspeople and entrepreneurs, Armstrong conducts Crowns Academy of Influence (crownsacademy.com), a weekly meeting for achievers and wealth-builders with the goal of introducing businesspeople to their Creator and equipping them to use their God-given creativity without limits.
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