Let me introduce you to my father. His name was Frank H. Wheeler, Jr., but everyone called him by his nickname given to him in college – ‘Moon’ (it’s not what you think – it was because he had a round face that resembled the ‘man in the moon’). Moon was a most interesting character. He was born and raised on a Mississippi cotton farm in the depression. He received an aeronautical engineering degree from Mississippi State; flew a P-51 fighter plane in the Pacific theatre in WWII; worked for North American Aviation at LAX after the war; built, flew and competed in his personal aerobatic biplane (Pitts S-1C); and spent the vast majority of his life as a Chevrolet dealer. He was a smart, capable and educated man. He was also a perfectionist who once told me that “If you’re going to do something, and do it right, do it yourself!” Even though truth lived within those words, that advice was not scalable.
Many folks who get started in some sort of associational arrangement, be it a franchise, a business partnership, chartering a club with a national organization, establishing a congregation connected to a denomination, or simply licensing some intellectual property, do so thinking that pooling resources makes sense. It somehow feels less expensive or time-consuming, else they wouldn’t do it.
I was just 12 years old and down on my knees pulling weeds in our Florida garden in the hot sun. Whew! I was done! I was pretty sure I did a great job! Who cares if I left a few weeds! Well, my Mom cared! When she came for inspection, she found a bunch of weeds I had missed. She made me do the work over again (and again) till I got it right. Flash forward to my older self in a leadership role where one of our four corporate objectives in our $300 million enterprise was “To pursue Excellence”. I like that better than, “Achieve Perfection”, don’t you?! It takes the pressure off but doesn’t let us off the hook.
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.