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Just Be Like Him

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.                                                                                                             - Romans 8:29

How do we serve as effective ambassadors and marketing vehicles for God? The Highest form of marketing for God is to just be like Him. We serve Him best when we emulate Him. Now, you might be wondering exactly how we mere humans could even entertain the notion of being like almighty God, especially in the ruthless and cutthroat world of business. Well, this may not be as much of a quantum leap as you might think.

Be Imitators of God

First, we must remember that God created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26). He calls us “gods” and we are instructed to be imitators of God (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34; Ephesians 5:1). So we must leverage our godly brand attributes and obey His commandment to imitate or be like Him.

Be Conformed to the Image of His Son

Fortunately, God has already given us a professional coach to help us with this. God declares that we are to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29, NKJV; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus Christ is our ultimate role model and coach. He is the Benchmark. The Standard. The Bible tells us that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and Christ has the mind of God, so being like Him is not impossible.

Jesus tells us:

  • Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me (John 14:10, NLT).
  • I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you (John 13:15, NLT).

Jesus is saying that He has given us an example and a pattern to follow so that we can serve as effective ambassadors and marketing vehicles for God. You don’t have to lecture or preach about God at work. The only thing you need to do is just be like Jesus.

The Bible says that “Jesus went around doing good” (Acts 10:38, NLT). Just by reading the Bible and learning more about Jesus and His leadership practices, we can learn so much about how to be ambassadors for God, particularly within the commercial arena.

In the Foreword for the book, Church on Sunday, Work on Monday, Ken Blanchard, world-renown leadership expert, states that “Jesus was a leadership model for all leaders” and that “business leaders need help and they need the kind of help that they can get from the leadership message of Jesus.”

We are to share God’s blessings and anointing in our lives with others so that we can give them a preview of Jesus and God’s redemptive power (Revelation 1:1-5).

Just be like Him in the workplace and in the marketplace and you will attract the attention of your target audience. Just being like Jesus equates to leading and ministering to others by example. We are to exemplify godly principles in our business philosophy and practice. We are to be holy because He is holy (Leviticus 20: 7-8; 1 Peter 1:14-16).

When we commit to being like Him, we are committing to be role models in our conduct (1 Timothy 4:12). We are committing to show others how to be “a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8, NKJV) putting our opponents to shame to the point that they have nothing negative to say about us!  We are committing to set the Highest standards for others to follow by allowing our business practices to give credence to our belief in God. But does this mean that we have to be perfect?

Must we be perfect?

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV) that we must mature as individuals and “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” We are to be obedient to God and live and mature by following the example of the life of Jesus Christ. But this doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect. We just need to exemplify excellence and wisdom. Remember, excellence is doing your best. Excellence is not perfection. We will never be perfect, for we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We just need to do our best to live the Christian life we espouse so that God can use our faith, testimonies, and blessings to bring others closer to Him.

Corporate vs Kingdom Philanthropy

But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.                                                                                                             - Luke 12:48

How can we leverage corporate social responsibility for the Highest good?  How do we extend our philanthropic initiatives from merely building up a company to building up the Kingdom of God?  How do we pursue Kingdom philanthropy?

 

Corporate Social Responsibility vs. Cause-Related Marketing

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is generally defined as the integration of business operations and values in such a way that the interests of all of a company’s stakeholders (e.g., investors, customers, employees, and the community) are reflected in the company's policies and practices. Most of us are familiar with two common initiatives within CSR plans: corporate philanthropy and cause-related marketing (CRM), or cause marketing.

Corporate philanthropy refers to charitable initiatives that help a company increase visibility, attract loyal customers, and offer employees the opportunity to band together in support of major social and civic concerns. A number of companies oversee corporate philanthropy vis-a-vis their corporate foundation, public relations, or external affairs department.

In recent years, cause marketing has become more prevalent in business, as many companies are not in a position to simply donate checks in the amount of six and seven figures to charitable organizations.  Cause marketing is defined as a commercial activity by which businesses and charities form partnerships with each other to market an image, product, or service for mutual benefit. Cause marketing is an initiative for addressing social causes and issues by providing resources and funding while simultaneously addressing business objectives.

Example:  Marketing for a Cause

Cause marketing programs frequently link the purchase of a product with fundraising. Example: Let’s say you own or manage a fast-food restaurant. Your cause-marketing offer to the consumer might be: “Purchase a combo meal and a percent of the proceeds will be donated to the local children’s hospital.” As a result of your cause marketing program:

  • Your restaurant benefits from:
    • Increased sales particularly among socially conscious customers.
    • Enhanced corporate image in the local community and marketplace.
    • Improved employee satisfaction and engagement as a result of your team working for a socially responsible company.
  • The local children’s hospital benefits from increased awareness and revenue/donations.
  • The cause (i.e., children’s health care) benefits from heightened publicity.

 

The Case for Corporate Philanthropy

Leading companies have discovered that there is a strong business case for corporate philanthropy and community involvement. Empirical research studies from Harvard Business School, The Gallup Poll, and other leading organizations, have shown that:

  • People looking to work for a particular company have admitted that they factor in whether or not they view the company as a good corporate citizen.
  • Employees feel good in knowing that their company is engaged in giving back to the community.

The Case for Kingdom Philanthropy

Corporate social responsibility initiatives can generate significant rewards for all involved. Given rampant cases of terrorism, starvation, domestic violence, and health-related epidemics including HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, there is certainly no scarcity of viable civic and social causes for any company interested in philanthropy.

While many of these epidemics are at national proportion, when it comes to addressing victims at the local grassroots community level, it’s usually up to the neighborhood churches and other civic organizations to support individual victims and their families. So where is the significant, public outpouring of support for churches from the business community particularly in Western society?        

When we as Christian business leaders began to include formal support of God’s churches and Christian organizations within the context of our marketing plans and philanthropic outreach efforts, we will have begun the process of bringing corporate philanthropy and charitable giving to a Higher level. And when we are brave enough to publicly proclaim our support of these alliances and how we are working to glorify God in our marketing practices, then we will have truly begun to establish and execute a divine marketing plan.

 When you use your marketing influence to help advance worthy causes, the Lord will reward you (Matthew 19:17; Galatians 6:9). Have the courage and fortitude to support churches and civic organizations in ways that are important and necessary, even if they are not always high profile and publicity generating.

 

By pursuing Kingdom philanthropy, your company will serve as a model corporate citizen for others in the community and a catalyst for drawing more attention to, and support for, important charitable initiatives. And for this, you and your organization will also be tremendously blessed by God.

 

 

The Divine Situation Analysis

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The  Lord be with you all.       - 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)

How do you meet the needs of your market?  What are the internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats impacting your business?

These questions are generally addressed in the section of your business plan called the situation analysis.  This section is also sometimes referred to as the situation assessment, market analysis, competitive analysis, or industry outlook.  It is the part of your business plan that includes your qualitative and quantitative research.

I have had the pleasure of conducting executive leadership programs for many Convene teams around the country and one of my most requested sessions is on the topic of “Market Analysis: Principles and Tools for Driving Business Results” where I share Biblical insights, practical tools, real-life business cases to help Convene members take their businesses to a Higher level of   excellence.

Keeping Performance Metrics in the Proper Perspective

Wall Street analysts, industry experts, business consultants, economic reports, market studies, information technology (IT) systems, and corporate decision-support models and systems serve as critical resources for business analysis and assessment.  They are all valid and extremely useful for supporting our business plans and positioning our companies for success. But they are inferior to God. They should be consulted as secondary resources that are to be leveraged after we have first consulted God for His divine insights into our careers and commercial endeavors.

Jesus reinforces the importance of this approach when He prays on our behalf to God:

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth  (John 17:15-17, NASB).

This means that you should not ignore the excellent resources and productive platforms and protocols of the business world, but you must realize that the truth of your current business situation must be revealed by God and your future business ventures must be sanctified by Him. Remember, as His ambassadors, our goal is to transcend from basic information to divine revelation and transformation.

Biblical Principles for Market Analysis

I encourage you to keep the following principles when focused on meeting market needs:

  • God is the Supreme Analyst and Sovereign Forecaster (Numbers 13:1-2)
  • God ordained seasons in business (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
  • He may be doing a New Thing through you (Isaiah 43:19)
  • You have no real competitors (Isaiah 14:27; James 4:2)
  • The battle is not yours (2 Chronicles 20:15)

I go into much more detail in my book, Revelations in Business.  But know that God desires for us to seek Him, pray, study, and obey His Word using spiritual discernment first and conventional data sources secondarily as we seek to meet market needs.  By taking this approach, we are able to accurately evaluate and forecast our commercial endeavors because we are initiating the process by incorporating the perfect wisdom and guidance that come only from God.

While the Business World Is Ever Changing, God Remains the Same

As Christian business leaders, we have to remind ourselves that although the business world is ever changing, God and His Word are not. He remains the same and serves as the one constant in our constantly changing lives. God declares: “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6; Exodus 3:14).

Not only does God remain steady and stable for us, but so does His Son. Scripture says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV). Because God and His Son do not change, we must continually seek their wisdom and direction in planning for imminent marketplace changes.


The Habakkuk Guidelines: 8 Steps For Imparting Your Vision

Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie, though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” - Habakkuk 2: 2-3 (NKJV)

 

 What’s vision has God given you for your business?  How can you ensure that your team members understand the vision?

 

We know that the word vision is generally defined as the power of seeing; discernment; something seen in the imagination, in a dream, or in one’s thoughts. A vision statement  describes the long-term aspirations of a company and offers direction for the organization by encouraging behaviors that are consistent with the achievement of the corporate mission.

Mission vs. Vision

A mission statement communicates what an organization is doing and a vision statement communicates where it is going.  Your mission and vision statements should not be mutually exclusive. Accomplishing one should not preclude achieving the other. Both should be able to coexist. Your vision statement should describe a state that is a natural progression to a Higher level of excellence from the core business focus embodied in your mission statement.

 

Just as God reveals His mission for us, He will also reveal His vision for our lives and businesses. Vision originates from God (Acts 2:17; Ezekiel 11:24-25). The Bible says that “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). All of us must have a goal that is meaningful and exquisite to strive for—a dream, a vision.

 

 The 8 Steps

 

The book of Habakkuk provides excellent guidelines and practical principles for putting your God-given vision into action. Let’s begin with Habakkuk 2:2-3, where God provides detailed instructions for imparting your vision. For instance, He says that your vision is:

  1. To be written down or recorded (v.2).
  2. To be made plain so that others can understand it (v.2).
  3. To be shared with other individuals (v.2).
  4. For motivating others toward a common goal (v.2).
  5. To be acted on or implemented (v.2).
  6. For a specific time in the future (v.3).
  7. Not to be discarded (v.3).
  8. Fail-proof (v.3).

 

Follow the above steps and principles as you as you identify, design, and communicate your vision.  And, do not be overwhelmed if God gives you a vision that the world has not yet seen.

 

When God gives the Vision, He also offers the Provision

 

Be encouraged!  When God gives you the vision, He also gives you the provision that you need to accomplish them (Psalm 37:5). He will give you all of the necessary resources—both tangible (e.g., professional contacts and financial resources) and intangible (e.g. grace and favor)—to make what you envision a reality.

 

When God gives us a vision, He not only supplies the provision, but He actually goes ahead of us to prepare a way for us to accomplish His will (Exodus 23:20; Matthew 11:10; Isaiah 45:2-3). Just as God strategically placed a mysterious man to help Joshua lead the children of Israel (Joshua 1:1-9; 5:13-15), He will also go ahead of us to place people and resources to help us on our journeys.

 

Just as “Jesus increased in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52, NKJV), the same can and will happen for you and me. Trust God’s infinite provisioning and allow the Spirit of God to work through you (Matthew 10:19-20).

 

Whatever God calls you to do, pursue it wholeheartedly with the confidence that you will achieve it “for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NKJV; Numbers 23:19). As Jesus says, “Because of your faith it will happen” (Matthew 9:29).

 

Are You Modeling A Servant Spirit?

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)

 

Chick-fil-A Servant Spirit:  In Theory

 

Awhile ago, I read an issue of In Touch, the magazine produced by Dr. Charles Stanley’s church, First Baptist Atlanta. The publication featured an article titled: “Dan Cathy: Leading the Next Generation at Chick-fil-A.”  The article mentioned that Mr. Cathy “spends most of his time traveling, helping with grand openings for new franchises, staying attuned to customers’ needs, and modeling a servant spirit for the employees.”

 

The fact that Chick-fil-A includes “modeling a servant spirit for employees” as a part of their corporate culture and one of their most critical business imperatives speaks volumes for their focus on servant leadership. In the article, Dan states:

 

God wants to use the local church to make a difference. There are so many negative forces going on in our society. This is a fallen culture that we live in…but if we’ll acknowledge God in all our ways, then not only for us as a family and as a business but even for us all as a nation, God will continue to direct our paths.

 

Chick-fil-A Servant Spirit:  In Practice

 

I had the unique opportunity to experience Dan Cathy’s humble attitude and servant leadership approach in person when I recently had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with him at a Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon where he was the keynote speaker.

 

During his powerful presentation, he shared a number of interesting items and artifacts and explained how each symbolized specific leadership principles. One of these articles was a shoe brush. Dan explained how it was used for brushing and shining shoes, but, for him, it also represented the importance of remaining a humble servant and reminded him of how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.

 

Well, after explaining this, Dan asked a gentleman from the audience to come and stand beside him. And to our utter amazement, Dan got on his knees and actually rolled up the cuffs of the man’s trousers and brushed and shined his shoes!  When he finished, he pulled the cuffs back down, stood up, and gave the man a hug! Dan explained that this is the type of servant attitude that he tries to impart to his employees. Dan’s actions transcended his words in an extraordinary way and left an affirmative, indelible impression that I will never forget.

 

We must always pray for spiritual discernment in creating a corporate culture that is not only authentic, but also honors God.  You should be so much of a positive influence on others that their lives should be enhanced as a result of being under your leadership and authority. I believe the definition of an exceptional leader is one who serves and enhances the lives of others by moving them closer to God and the achievement of their spiritual calling and purpose.  If you can create a culture to facilitate this, then you are one step closer to truly transforming the workplace and marketplace.