By Shawn Dean
There seems to be a conspiracy in the marketplace against Christ. Inscribed somewhere in the fine print of the company policy manual is the notion that it shows poor form to express your love for Jesus while simultaneously doing business. There’s this unspoken belief that increased gross profit dollars and evangelism don’t mix. I won’t necessarily argue against that point.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a bunch of Jesus-lovin’ businessmen in our community. We take up the offering on Sunday morning and teach the 9:30 Sunday school class. We share our faith in the safe zone and we pull our badge off before we get to the parking lot. One sure way to make yourself look foolish is to boldly proclaim the name of Jesus while the scoffers wait to delight themselves in your hypocrisy. Curious eyes watch to see how we participate in the three-day sales conference or the golf tournament or the fishing trip. “Here”, they say, “Have a beer.”
Better yet, we work for 14 years for a man who does a fine job representing Christ at work and showing us love and relationship that is, until we get a better offer from the competition and become his competitor. Then, generally, we see another side of that righteous man that needs a little attention. Messing with a man’s retirement plan shines a high-beam light on the depth of what you thought was a sincere relationship. What a shame.
Here’s another. It didn’t take long for me to figure out why contractors don’t care to do business with churches. They very well could be the most difficult group of people on earth to please, and getting paid in a timely fashion is a losing proposition. Here we have a fantastic opportunity to express the love of Jesus to a field of men who desperately need Him and all we seem to do is confirm to them the very reason why they gave up on Him in the first place. Don’t believe me—just ask.
Yet, there’s another splinter I need to pull and then I’ll get off my box. Justified abuse of Christians by Christians that flash the subtitle, “It ain’t personal, it’s just business.” Yeah, since when? Hopefully, you feel my tone and can likely tell that I’m a little sensitive about the subject. I’ve seen too much; I’ve heard too much and I’m constantly discouraged by it.
The business world is an excellent litmus test for a believer. It challenges the belief system at every turn and constantly questions what we worship relative to what we say we worship.
I recently had the privilege of hearing Dutch Sheets preach. As a boy, he witnessed his father minister to people in miraculous ways through healing and deliverance. He was anointed with great faith. As a teenager, he also watched as his father left his family for another woman. Year later, he added, that in the waning years of his father’s life, he watched a man with a romance with Jesus that was simply beautiful. He’d wake every morning at 4 am and spend three to four hours a day loving Him.
What does this have to do with faith in the marketplace? Everything. We’re all humans who wake up every morning and get dressed for work. We leave the house and enter into an arena equipped for battle. Although we battle our competition, what we really battle is ourselves, and it’s ourselves that tends to beat us the most. We throw the idols of greed and pride in the trashcan and then we go and dig them out again when our challenges test our righteousness. We fail and we fail again and we’re slow to learn the eternal lesson of why we pursue success to begin with.
You and I, we know better. You and I, we need an example that is not afraid to fail in his attempt to glorify the one worthy to be glorified in every venue, at every moment even at the risk of bankruptcy and reputation. Assuming that risk defines what faith a man has and to what extreme he’s determined to please Him who loves exceedingly—eternally.
Just as Dutch Sheet’s father returned to Christ with a sincere affection for a romantic encounter with the living God, you and I have that same chance when our season of failure presents itself. It’s never too late to surrender your business, your lusts, or your idols, and trade them for something of worth. He wants it all because He wants all of you. He pursues us passionately for a life of intimacy and at no time or place does he relent in His ambition.