business

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).

 

Leveraging The 3-Step Confrontation Process of Jesus

Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.    - Isaiah 42: 1-3 (NLT)

 

 

Miscommunication occurs daily, if not hourly, in the workplace and marketplace. Lack of clear and concise communication leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding, which can ultimately lead to confrontation.

 

Being a humble servant of God does not mean that you can’t be confrontational. The key is in the way in which you manage the situation and communication with the people with whom God leads you to confront. Notice that I emphasize here that we should be led by God in our confrontations with others as opposed to just being led by our personal agenda, anger, frustration, or other selfish inclinations of the flesh. If God desires for you to confront someone, He will send the Holy Spirit to encourage and guide you. And He will provide the appropriate opportunity and setting.

 

When we are led by God to confront someone, it’s critical that we approach confrontations in a respectful manner regardless of whether we are dealing with a person who is a colleague, a superior, or a subordinate. Galatians 6:1-10 encourages us to always seek to do good for one another and to confront or restore others with a spirit of gentleness.

 

Let’s consider our professional coach and role model, Jesus, as an example. Jesus was confrontational. The Bible describes numerous incidents in which Jesus confronted others, but He was confrontational in a respectful way that conveyed kindness, wisdom, and compassion. For instance, when Jesus corrected Martha in Luke 10:38-42, He did so in a kind and respectful manner, saying:

 

Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.

- Luke 10:41-42 (NKJV)

 

In this passage, Jesus employs a 3-step process when He confronts Martha by:

 

  1. Acknowledging feelings and concerns (e.g., “you are worried and troubled”).

 

  1. Sharing godly wisdom and advice (e.g., “only one thing is needed”).

 

  1. Offering practical suggestions and examples to enhance learning (e.g., “Mary has chosen that good part").

 

Another example of the confrontation methods of Jesus involves times when He healed individuals who were blind and mute and cast demons out of others. The Pharisees had the audacity to question His ability to cast out demons without the help of a demon (Matthew 12:22-30; Mark 3: 20-27)!  In this particular case, Jesus used the same approach He used with Martha in confronting the Pharisees to help them understand how preposterous their questions and comments were.

 

In confronting the Pharisees, Jesus, 1) acknowledges their feelings and concerns by asking them a number of thought-provoking questions such as, “How can Satan cast out Satan?”(Mark 3:23, NKJV).

 

He then, 2) shares godly wisdom with them regarding the fact that “if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:25-28, NKJV).

 

And Jesus, 3) offers practical suggestions to the Pharisees by clearly affirming truth and encouraging them to be with Him and not against Him, because this is the only way to achieve forgiveness and eternal salvation (Matthew 12:30-32).

 

How might you leverage the 3-step confrontation process of Jesus with your colleagues, employees, clients, customers, suppliers, and others?

 

Jesus is a living testament of the effectiveness of following God’s communication guidelines and confronting others in truth, peace, and wisdom. His three-step confrontation process of acknowledging feelings, sharing wisdom, and offering practical suggestions worked for Him, and it will work for you. It is a wise, straightforward, and powerful approach that you can use during those times when God leads you to confront others.

 

Your Divine Mission

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of age.  - Matthew 28: 19-20 (NKJV)

 

The term purpose is generally defined as intention or a reason for being.  Your reason for being. God created all of us, including His Son Jesus, to glorify Him. Jesus acknowledges this when He prays: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You” (John 17:1, NKJV).  Therefore, our purpose as God’s sons and daughters is to glorify Him so that His “name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16, NKJV).

 

On the contrary, the term mission is typically defined as an important assignment, vocation, divine calling or personal ministry.  Your divine assignmentYour personal calling.  Jesus is a perfect example of an individual who stayed focused on God’s mission for His life. Jesus followed God and the Holy Spirit as He pursued His ministry.  Just as God anointed Jesus to do His work, He will also anoint you to do yours in the marketplace.

 

Your purpose precedes your mission. One way to frame this connection is to remember:

 

  • Your purpose tells you why you were created (i.e., to glorify God).
  • Your mission tells you how you will glorify Him (e.g., through your commercial initiatives).

 

 

Our Collective Mission

 

 Jesus tells us that just as God sent Him into the world to spread the gospel, He (Jesus) sends us into the world to spread the gospel.  He declares we are to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, NKJV).  This is our ultimate collective mission as believers.  For us as Christian business leaders, this means that we are sent to spread the gospel of Christ in the business world.

 

Identifying Your Personal Mission

 

In my book, Revelations in Business:  Connecting Your Business Plan with God’s Purpose and Plan for Your Life, I share a step-by-step process for how to identify your individual mission and connect it with the mission of your business.  And, the first step is to begin from within.  If you have questions regarding exactly what your calling is as an individual, then the answers are easily accessible. The answers lie within you.

 

When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God actually anoints you with the same Holy Spirit with which He anointed Jesus. “This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT). This is reinforced by Jesus as He declares:  For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21, NKJV).

 

The Bible reinforces the fact that God’s Spirit lives within us in many passages including the following:

 

  • “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17, NKJV).
  • “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living with you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11, AMP).
  • “That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (2 Timothy 1:14, NKJV).

 

Ponder the following questions:

  • “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NKJV).
  • “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NKJV).
  • “Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” 2 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV).

 

Because God’s Holy Spirit resides within each one of us, you only need to look inside yourself to God, Who resides within each of us, to discover your divine mission. Pray for His revelation, direction, wisdom, and power to discern the mission that He has ordained for you.