When most people hear about stewardship, workplace chaplains and employee satisfaction surveys are rarely what spring to mind. But for a cadre of business owners integrating faith within their businesses for a Business as a Ministry (BaaM) operating system, that only scratches the surface of their stewardship.
A steward is responsible to manage an asset on someone’s behalf. While work is often compartmentalized from faith, stewardship for Christian leaders demands seeing their entire businesses as belonging to God. They operate according to His standards and values and integrate biblical principles in everything from choosing health care plans to finding ways to show the love of Christ to His people. As business owners oversee people and resources, they are not only tending to others’ welfare and wallets but also to their eternal wellbeing.
Applying biblical principles to shape best practices in business may sound challenging or scandalously illegal, but it’s surprisingly achievable and worthwhile. And while this view of stewardship may seem to be an ethereal, fluid concept, ministry can be objectively measured with worthy metrics of success much like any other dimension of thriving business.
The Opportunity for Impact
John Davenport Engineering, Inc (DAVENPORT), a consulting firm that has been providing engineering solutions for nearly 20 years, aims to nurture “fertile ground” in the workplace, creating a place where employees know their spiritual growth is supported and encouraged.
Revenue generation at DAVENPORT isn’t just a means for larger offices and higher salaries. Davenport Jr., the company’s CEO, sees growing the business as a way to increase its impact, making the work it does more meaningful and rewarding. It’s another way of pursuing what he calls “win-win” solutions. One simple question guides John’s decision-making, proposed solutions, and company policies: “Spiritually and professionally, how do we meet [employees and partners] where they are to help them grow?”
Offering opportunities like paid time off to volunteer and employee-led local mission efforts creates a corporate culture where employees get to practice their faith while at work.
Todd Stewart, president of Gulf Winds International, is also intentional about leading a business as ministry. He has created a strategic plan for ministry—a systematic envisioning of a desired future along with goals and the necessary steps to reach them—and he’s woven that into the fibers of his business. At Gulf Winds, this focus starts at the individual level with each employee. “Meeting the needs of the individual employee through corporate sponsored programs, partnerships, a values-driven culture, coaching, and team development” is how the Gulf Winds team fosters a spiritually fulfilling work atmosphere.
Considering many employees spend more time with their coworkers than with their families, the marketplace offers a large platform to share the life and love of Christ. But without effective planning, good intentions can be derailed by a lack of clarity and accountability to accomplish a company’s vision for spiritual impact. Christian leaders can meet the challenge of successful stewardship by implementing a strategic plan similar to Stewart’s.
If a business owner struggled with shrinking sales, he or she would invest a great deal of time and resources into fixing the problem. Leaders can plan and execute ministry-minded initiatives in the same way. C12 Group, a global provider of peer advisory groups and resources for Christian business leaders, developed their 5-Point Alignment Matrix to help leaders align all operations with their company’s central mission, vision, and core values. By positioning ministry alongside other core dimensions, the Matrix prevents sprinkling it on top of one’s business as an afterthought. Instead, it approaches ministry from the same strategic planning lens as operations, organizational development, revenue generation, and financial management. It’s an entirely new operating system based upon the idea of Business as a Ministry (BaaM).
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