My Problem with Christian Business Books
As you may already know, my education is in business. I have an MBA from a secular university, which has helped me tremendously, giving me tools to do those things God has called me to do. But, as you would expect, I also was taught many things that didn’t fit my Christian upbringing and caused me to wrestle with how God viewed business. This area of conflict generates interest for me toward Christian business books, and yet I am usually left not satisfied.
I recently received a Christian business book which I agreed to review. This book, like the others I have read, took current business teachings and made them fit into Scripture verses. While most of these books rarely have bad business principles, the problem with Christian business books is they are lacking anything that makes them truly Christian beside the obligatory nod to prayer. They may in the end help improve your business acumen. They may even help you to be successful in business. But, are they really Christian books or did they just find a niche that they can sell into?
Trust in Ourselves vs. Trust in God
Success in God’s kingdom is attained differently. He chooses the foolish to shame the wise. Strategies and wisdom cause us to trust in ourselves; God wants us to trust in Him. This latest book I read focused on the pitfalls of King Saul. King Saul had a prophet that gave him the word of the Lord, which Saul had a hard time following fully. The book looked at many red flags in Saul’s life, but it totally neglected that fact that God wanted Saul to hear His instructions and obey. Has God’s plan for us changed from this model of dependency on Him?
Now for those of you like me who have tried to lead your business life in this manner, you have learned this can be very difficult. There is a temptation to move ahead of God when the circumstances of life seemingly force you into a decision (as it happened to Saul). Sometimes it is hard to completely follow God because He is leading us down a path that conflicts with our idea of success. Sometimes it seems that He changes the ways things are done just so we don’t begin to trust in principles over following Him. Sometimes it seems He just wants us to look foolish.
God’s Goal for Our Lives
God’s goal for our lives is not so much for outward success, as much as it is for intimacy with you. (Please don’t read into that statement to understand that God doesn’t want you successful. I believe He does. But, more importantly He wants intimacy with you.) This creates confusion in most Christian business people. We want to glorify God with our jobs and lives, and we assume that we will bring Him the most glory by being the best at what we are doing. What we tend to forget is that successful people in this world don’t usually bring God glory. We bring God the most glory when we enjoy Him in whatever circumstance we are experiencing.
There is a tendency as Christian business men and women to spend time in prayer to get answers. The pressures of our work intimidate us to seek God for answers instead of seeking God for the sole purpose of spending time with Him. We treat Him more as our genie instead of our friend. And so, God seems silent because our goals our different. Since we find God silent, we don’t get the necessary word from Him and believe His place in business is only in good Christian behavior.
One Missing Part of Most Christian Business Books
I still don’t have enough answers to effectively write for myself a Christian business book yet, but I feel I have found an answer that is missed in many books. God wants all of life to be in partnership with Him. Every circumstance in life is an opportunity to experience more of His love for us. God wants us to be as one with Him as He is with the rest of the Godhead. He wants us to go about our work with our hearts and our minds connected with Him. He may ask us to do crazy things (see Business Principles of Jesus). He may ask us to make seemingly the wrong choices. We may appear to fail, but if our ultimate goal is to experience more of Jesus in the process, there is no limited to how successful we can become.
Thank you so very much for this. And I also pray the Lord lead either you or someone to write THAT BOOK — a book about Christian business with the same perspective as you. Blessings, Janis
Thank you for the encouragement. It is a plan for someday to write the book. Hopefully someday.
Oh Kevin I was dying to tell you and Allison about this Australian guy I met last week, Mark Bilton. http://www.calledtobusiness.com. He’s deep and in his words, “also happens to be a businessman”. Just following Jesus he’s helped turn some major companies around (Gloria Jean’s included)… We’re both reading his book, “Finding God in your workplace”. The devotional too with Scripture and deep nuggets… Think you might like it.
Joy, thank you for the resource. I will check it out. I hope you are doing well. We miss you here.