Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Have Jesus on my Payroll

The greatest hole in my ability to live as a Christian is how to ensure that every aspect of my life is by design for the Kingdom of God.  

The ministry I help in, or the services I perform for my church are easy. We just asked what we could do to help, they pointed us at their needs that matched our ability, and that's what we do.  Whenever they ask for more, we raise our hands, if it is at all possible. Most times we raise our hands even if it does not seem possible.  Sure, I still spend human time complaining the the Music ministry (I am tone deaf) gets all the attention or the Youth Ministry (why are teens called youth - what does that make younger children? Pre-youth?), but when it comes right down to it, I do what the church asks of me, because the pastors know what's up, and I don't.  (Submission is part of the deal - the hard part, but a part non the less.)

Normal Life. The way I live my non-karate life is harder, but pretty straight forward, because there is information, sermons, books and pretty direct words of wisdom and command direct from the bible.  (By the way, we own 2 karate schools - to be accurate, Anne owns 2, with our daughter, and Paul is over coming TBI by passing on his knowledge) I would hazard to say, if you were to ask even non Christians how Christians should behave at home and in their lives, most would have an answer, and most answers would be pretty close to what the bible tells us.There really is no difference between family life ministry and church life ministry.  For us, the situation is a tad unique because of TBI.  I (Paul) can not add, remember what day its, remember how to get home from nearly anywhere or remember what he is supposed to be doing with out help, so contributing to Finances for example would be counter productive, and to my "normal" Christian brothers it is problematic.  They keep telling me what my duties are, and get frustrated that I don't obey the bibles clear indication of my role.  Yet, what I hear them say is the logical equivalent of demanding that a Cat drive a car. (This very difference in how Anne and I have to run our lives is one of the primary reasons I adhere to "progressive revelation" in the bible and in history. Without a continuing growth in our understanding of God's will, my wife doing the things I normally would and should do, would be sin.)

Business as Ministry: How to run a business for God, from its inception and mission creation, through its minute to minute activities, through its product sales, through its leadership and team member selection, training and expectations, through its relationship to the community and even its action with its customers is VERY much harder.  


I have read the few books that were not cotton candy created for Christians to consume; I have asked friends who are doing well in our business and are Christians; I have asked consulting firms who claim they are Christians.  The one thing they all have in common is that they take standard business practices, that really do work in the world, and build their business on this foundation.  They then paste Jesus onto that business, and claim they are blessed.  Perhaps they are.


However, there are a few things that I reject out of hand. One opinion I heard was that by giving 10% of the business income to the Church, you would insure God's blessing under Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - NIV  This is kinda like, "The Ends Justify the Means," which is a very non-biblical understanding of life.  

Another common Christian Business feeling was expressed to me by another friend. "That was then, this is Now."  I believe in forgiveness or "That was then."  Yet, if you were a Christian you are a "New Man." Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the "old self" with its evil practices, (Colossians 3:9).

How people view a Christian's business and faith are one in the same.  You are Jesus' PR firm. The only book that I have read, other than the Bible, that rang a bell in that direction was A Light Shines Bright in Babylon by Buck Jacobs.  He starts with the pretty obvious statement that your behavior for God is should be the same in every aspect of your life, including your business.  He goes on to say that you were given and supported in the foundation of your business by God, and it probably is your BEST mission field, unique to you, and a gift you have an obligation to use for its creator. It's Money, Staff, Customers and products are all your tools to serve the Lord.

How to Build a Christian Business That Serves All People

Looking at how Jesus built his ministry, to see if we can glean a way for us to build our business, is an interesting exercise, though it may very well be feel good Christianity designed to make God work for our mission, rather than we working for his. (Like hugging your cat to feel good about life)

To help guard against that, I will start with what I believe is the central command to us and is generally known as the great commission. Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." - The Message

You will notice that I do not start with a Goal. The reason for that is that Goals are modern mans way of using humanism to build his world view around himself. I find goals pull me from my mission and control my actions around what I want rather than what God wants. Thus I start with a business purpose, which is expressed as a problem.

Purpose – To Spread the Good News:

The problem = How do you construct a business, in this case martial arts business, whose design criteria is to spread the good news. (This is the same mission Jesus had, though he was not a black belt.)

Additional Problem to Overcome:Your might be a Christian, but YOUR CLIENTS may or may not be. You sell a product: Karate. It has some attributes that differ for every client and may include; Self Defense, Self Esteem, Self Control, Integrity, Power, Strength, Fitness, Socialization and more. You are NOT the Pastor of your Business; rather, you are the manager. Preaching in a business setting is better down with a sandwich board and a milk crate to stand on.  Your Job is to run a business as Jesus would have you do it, rather than fire and brimstone your clients.  It would be dishonest to sell one product, then give them another. 
At the risk of being a Christian Reductionist and make something so simple, so I can follow it, that I might miss some of the truth, we run our business pretty much by a reduction made by Francis of Assisi - "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
We try to make every choice in our business based on it's ability to convey Christ's love through our actions.  Sometimes that means we do something that short term hurts a clients feelings; sometimes that means we do something we don't like to do to show love to a client; sometimes that means sacrifice; sometimes that means financial loss.  At all times it is actions over theology when we Live our Faith.

We have discovered that the result is someone asking us a question like, "Where do you get the patients," or, "how can you afford to do that," or "where did you learn that?"  All of these questions lead to the truth, and the truth is the Gospel, and the Gospel is purpose.
We have lost team members because this stand, which we hate to do.  We have lost cars, income and even faith from time to time over this issue, yet Faith is an action, not a feeling. 
What we will not lose is Jesus.  We will stand for the people we have been blessed with always remembering that our actions are guided by Matthew 22:37-39  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."
Love the Lord you God with all of you, and do it by Loving your neighbor (client, supplier, former staff member, consultant, Starbucks guy) as yourself.

If you are asking how we got this faith and how we maintain it in the face of life trying to tear us down, then click Here, and read about it.

So, NO, I do NOT have Jesus on my payroll.  I'm on his.  My wife deals with money, as I can't and don't even understand it.  Jesus is not on her payroll either.  She is on his too.  It's not about Us, It's about Them, and that is because it is about Him.

If you want more information on who it is about, read It's Not about You.
If you want more information on Greedy Prayer, read God is a Genie.

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