Ask most people about their Church experience and you’ll discover categories of subtle discontentment to consuming frustration. “The worship’s too short/long, the music’s too loud, the message was too soft, too condemning, too long, they didn’t make me feel welcome,” and on and on. For starters, the Church is not supposed to be a one-way delivery system for our happiness or our fulfillment.
Imagine with me for a minute. What if we lived in a world where all commerce stopped? There would be no electricity, no gas stations, no mass transportation, no cell service, no grocery stores or food distribution, no hospitals, schools, movie theaters or amusement parks. There would be no food on the shelves, gas pumps would go dry, streets would not be patrolled and fires would burn themselves out. Civilized life as we know it quickly melts away.
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.
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.