Often times, strong Christians will grow discouraged when they are unable to take a ministry role, believing that vocational ministry is the highest calling of any Christian. They are wrong. Bob Fraser experienced this same situation in the 1990s. After finding all ministry doors closed to him, he started a business out of sheer boredom. Over the next several years, his business grew, raising $44 million in investment capital and achieving 20 percent month-to-month revenue growth over six years. Though at first confused and discouraged by what he saw as a sentence to exile in the marketplace, Bob’s view gradually changed. Soon he came to see that business is actually ordained of God to fulfill certain ministries that no other branch of Christendom can take on. Over time, he narrowed this ministry down to ten things that kingdom businesses can do. Here are the first three:
Life Skills Factories
“Good businesses are lifeskills factories. They make their trade in identifying, training, modeling and rewarding life skills” -Marketplace Christianity
The talent or vocational ability of any individual is not enough to carry him to success. There are certain foundational attributes that are prerequisite to any person’s progression. These are personal traits like teachability, work ethic, and judgement, and more practical abilities such as effective communication, recruiting, and the management of time, people, and projects. Many of these skills are born in the home or the church, but their real development occurs in the workplace. It is in the development of people as more effective, more helpful workers that the Kingdom of God is advanced. Such development benefits the business, but also the individuals who are equipped to succeed wherever the Lord might place them.
“There are many leaders in the church world, but the great preponderance of gifted leaders is in the marketplace” -Marketplace Christianity.
In business, the difference between leadership and management disguised as leadership is the difference between thinking strategically and thinking only tactically. Where tactics boost productivity, strategy boosts growth. A kingdom business employs strategic thinking to solve anticipated problems, sacrifice short-term gain for longterm growth, and develop people rather than use them. The momentary sacrifice in developing leaders soon pays dividends in the exponential growth they bring, not only to a business, but to the world at large. When you invest in a leader, you cultivate your values and learned effectiveness in another person, exponentially increasing your potential impact as they carry on your work, even when after they have left your business.
“While leaders create energy and activity, managers harness activity and bring productivity. Where there is leadership without management, there is activity without productivity” -Marketplace Christianity.
Many people have shifted from a management only paradigm, to a leadership only paradigm. This is disastrous because the direction and drive that a leaders instill will go entirely to waste without a proper management team. A car with a steering wheel, windshield and mirrors is ready to move safely and usefully,but without an engine, it will move nowhere at all. If leadership is the head of a business, Fraser calls management is its backbone. Without correct management,resources are squandered. With correct management, every tool is put to use,nothing is wasted, and nothing is overlooked; the system runs smoothly and efficiently. Managers take advantage of every opportunity and advance a vision which might otherwise stagnate under the weight of meaningless activity. And so,according to Fraser, a good business is a management developing machine. At first glance these three elements may seem unspiritual, however, of the ten they are the foundations.
God can move through the efforts of dysfunctional businesses, however, when we violate the basic laws He has put in place, we incur the natural consequences– ineffectiveness, deterioration, and eventually destruction. When, on the other hand, we align ourselves with His precepts, we put ourselves on the highway of divine grace and favor. If you desire to do something for God, first become useful to Him.
Look out for the next part in this series when we cover the next three elements.