Basic business minimums for Christians
A business is a tool that can be used by God to demonstrate the truth of the Gospel. In James 1:22 we are told to be “doers” of the Word. A business is the perfect environment for living Christ’s truth.
Purpose of a business
To determine whether a business is being used to serve God, look at the policies governing its day-to-day actions. If Christian owners or managers are truly committed to Jesus Christ and to serving His purposes, the business will be run according to His minimum principles and precepts.
The business should have one overriding purpose: to glorify Him. Each decision—hiring, firing, paying, promoting, and so on—must be made in harmony with God’s written Word, under the direction of His Holy Spirit. No function is more or less important, and each must be done with excellence.
Basic business minimums
Whenever most people think about the basic minimums of Christianity, they generally think of the Ten Commandments. These are the minimums that God said would separate His people from those around them.
In the business environment, the same commandments apply, but there are some other minimums that set apart God’s followers from others in the business world.
These are indicators of whether they are serious about dedicating their businesses to the Lord. These minimums are:
- Keep out of unnecessary debt. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7). It is sometimes necessary to accrue debt, especially when starting new businesses. Borrowing to keep a business going, to fund operating expenses, or to purchase product should be avoided.
- There is no tool more effective for evangelism than businesses dedicated to the Lord. Employees can be won by the example of dedicated owners or managers and also suppliers, creditors, and customers. The key is the walk, not the talk.
- Disciple others. Discipleship is training Christians to grow stronger in their faith. In businesses, that effort should be directed by the owners or managers to those immediately under their authority. They will then be able to disciple the others under their authority. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
- Provide for needs. A business must provide for the needs of the employees, creditors, customers, and owners. That is done by paying salaries, paying for supplies and equipment in a timely fashion, and providing a quality product at a fair price.
If Christian business owners accept meeting needs as a normal part of God’s plan, they will play an effective role in evangelism and discipleship.
- Be accountable. All business people need some other Christian or a group of impartial Christians to whom they are accountable and with whom they can discuss major decisions or communicate personal problems or difficulties. “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counsellors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
- Provide a quality product at a fair price. Value can be defined as the effective return on a purchase. Low cost does not necessarily represent value. When Christian businesses accept the standard for services and products that the Bible prescribes, the end result will be the best product at the best possible price.
- Honour creditors. Creditors include those who have loaned businesses merchandise as well as those who have loaned money. Suppliers are often treated like a no-interest source of operating capital.
If the situation is beyond owners’ or managers’ control, that’s one thing. However, if businesses are simply choosing a cheaper way to operate, they are violating one of God’s minimum principles. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbour, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you” (Proverbs 3:27-28). Continuing to order materials and other supplies when there are already past due bills is deceitful.
- Treat people fairly, especially employees and customers. Fairness recognizes that all people are important, regardless of their vocational position. “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9). The principle of fairness relates to employees, creditors and customers.
Creditors will be more inclined to listen if they get paid on time and are treated fairly. Customers will be more inclined to listen if businesses give them a good product at a fair price and stand behind their word.
- Generate a profit. Any business must be able to make a profit if it is to continue operations. God’s Word says that it is His will for us to prosper (3 John 2). That mean that owners and managers are to work hard and be active participants in God’s plan for their businesses rather than observers.
There is no such thing as a “Christian business.” A business is a legal entity and has no spirit or soul. However, it reflects the values of the principal owners or managers.
Committed Christians need to give their businesses to God, live by His basic minimums for operating businesses, and accept the fact that they are merely managers of His businesses. God becomes the source of everything for their businesses. “I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, to endow those who love me with wealth, that I may fill treasuries” (Proverbs 8:20-21).
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