The idea of business as ministry may sound great. In practice, it is much more complex and interesting. It has been my experience that using our business as ministry looks very different at each business where this mindset takes root. The creativity and variety of ways that this is put into practice are limitless. After all, “ministry” just means serving.
When we think about using our businesses as a means to further God’s purposes and to extend His kingdom, we are often drawn toward conventional Christian expressions or techniques. We are all aware of companies that have used obvious ways of proclaiming a Christian message and focus. Anything from putting Bible verses on drink cups to copies of New Testaments in their packaging or closing for business on Sundays. These are all great things and done in the right spirit, they can have an impact but, I believe, there is a more subtle and organic way to use your business to extend God’s kingdom.
Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, states that when business professionals don’t view their business as a ministry, there are consequences. They don’t read their Bibles, pray, or worship God outside church services. They don’t share their faith or make disciples. They don’t hold themselves accountable to the same standards of Christian conduct as those they consider to be in “full-time” ministries. They don’t activate their spiritual gifts. They assume God isn’t relevant outside of the church. Those business leaders who do view their business as a ministry have integrated their faith and work.
It was the mid-1970’s. I was a young teenager and on this particular day, I was a passenger in one of those big boat size cars driving up a winding mountain road. The driver was my 5 foot 2-inch spiritual mentor Lionel Mayell. To me, he was a spiritual giant. We were headed towards Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU) offices in Southern California. That morning, the trajectory of my entire life was about to change because Lionel Mayell was a light carrier. He carried the light of the love of Jesus in his head and it moved to his heart and spread to his hands and feet. He was a great man who served me and shaped me deeply.