We all recognize that our personal spiritual growth is a journey that lasts our lifetime. It typically takes decades for an individual to progress from the tiny steps of belief, repentance, and baptism to the point at which he/she is a spirit-lead mature Christian. There are lots of ups and downs along the way; times when you don’t feel like you are growing at all, and others when the Lord seems to be visibly involved in the circumstances of your life.
There are, of course, lots of places along the journey where people can get stuck. Many stop along the way, and plateau at that point forever. Their spiritual growth is stunted, and they remain stuck in a spot.
But what about the spiritual growth and maturity of a business? Can those words and concepts even apply? Can a business develop its spiritual maturity in the same way that an individual does?
The Bible doesn’t have much to say about that question. While we see businesses throughout the Bible (they are called households), we generally see them at one spot in their existence, and not over time. For example, we see Abram’s business when it was very successful. In Genesis 14:4, we learn that he “gathered 318 trained men who had been born in his household.” We can gather from that the business that Abram headed was probably composed of thousands. If there were 318 trained men who had been born in his household, how many untrained men were there? How many mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters, how many men were too old or too young to be trained? It doesn’t take much to infer a household in the thousands.
We see Lydia’s business in the New Testament, during the time in which she encountered Paul, and note that she decided to follow Christ, and her whole household – all the family, employees, servants, and slaves – followed her. But we don’t see the business before or after that event.
So, we are left with our own observations. Here’s one person’s perspective: Can a business grow and develop spiritually, in much the same way as an individual does?
Business and Personal Spiritual Growth
The growth and development of the spiritual component of a business often parallel the growth and development of the key stakeholders.
One of the characteristics of businesses in the Bible is that they reflect the character and behavior of the head of the household. In other words, as the owner and key executives grow in their spiritual walk, they often lead the business on a parallel path.
In the same way, a business in today’s world also reflects the character and behavior of the owner and key executives. As the head of the business goes, so does the business itself.
Just like there are key events in the growth and development of an individual’s spiritual journey, so there are corresponding events in the spiritual development of a business.
For example, an individual’s spiritual journey begins with a realization that he is a sinner and needs salvation, leading to repentance and a commitment to Christ (Acts 2:42)
For a business, the journey begins when the head realizes that the business is not just a means of making money, but a God-given entity that has a role in the Kingdom. They realize that their business is, in fact, a ministry. Just as a commitment to Christ is a watershed event in the life of an individual, so too is the realization that the business is a ministry.
For an individual, an early growth event occurs when he/she realizes the need for prayer and begins the life-long process of bringing everything to God in prayer. The same is true for a business. When the head realizes that prayer can and should be a part of every business and begins to embed prayer into the structure of the business, that becomes a mark of that organization’s growing spiritual maturity.
Another key event along the road to individual spiritual growth occurs when an individual begins to be conscious of God’s involvement in his/her life and begins to hear God communicate with him/her. That’s a major step forward along the journey.
The same thing occurs with a business. When the owners and key executives realize that God is interested in the business and has something to say to them about it, that is a similar major step forward.
Another key step for an induvial occurs when he/she arrives on the other side of some adverse and difficult situation, looks back, and realizes that God was there in the details of the situation and that He orchestrated the eventual resolution. The individual gets it – that God cares about me and can be trusted in even the most difficult circumstances.
The same thing is true when a business comes through a time of trial and adversity and arrives on the other side of that stronger than when it began. When the owners and stakeholders realize that God cares about the business and can be trusted in even the most adverse circumstances, that realization marks another step upward in the spiritual maturity of the business.
Eventually, the spiritual journey leads to a place of a daily walk with the Lord, Holy Spirit conversations and direction, and total obedience and reliance on the Lord. The same is true for the business. When most of the stakeholders come to the realization that the business is God’s and that He will direct it to His purposes, there comes a sense of peace in the business.
So, major events in the spiritual journey of individuals find parallels to very similar major events in the spiritual life of a business.
Just like in the life of an individual, these milestones in the spiritual journey are often preceded by key activities on the part of the individual. The milestones in the business, in like manner, are often preceded by key activities within the business.
For an individual, regular exposure to the scriptures is a key activity that opens the mind to spiritual truths and is a necessary precursor to any substantial spiritual growth. So, too, when a business begins to rely on the scriptures for direction, to subtly work scripture references into conversations and meetings, and to offer voluntary bible studies, this institutional exposure to the scriptures is a key activity that often precedes spiritual growth for the business.
Just as fellowship with other Christians is a key activity necessary for spiritual growth, so too, for the business. When a business promotes healthy and positive relationships among its employees and with its vendors and customers, and seasons those with the salt of God’s grace and providence, when the key executives seek out relationships with other Christian businesspeople, that activity opens the doors for the spirit to work inside the business.
Conversational prayer is a key activity that precedes and signals spiritual growth in an individual. So too for the business, when the key executives and owners begin to talk with God about the decisions and challenges in the business, that activity opens the door for God to be a bigger part of the organization.
Just as giving is a necessary attribute of an individual Christian’s spiritual character, so is a business’ giving for the business.
And, just as sharing personal testimonies of how God has worked in the individual’s life is an activity the reflects and enriches one’s spiritual growth, the same is true of a business that begins to institutionalize similar stores of how God worked in the business.
This idea that a business can mature spiritually in much the same way that an individual does may be a radically new thought for many Christian businesspeople. You have never heard that from the pulpit.
There is a whole world of truth that can enlighten and enrich a Christian’s life above and beyond what they hear at church. This is one such idea.
For 30 years, Dave Kahle has helped businesses sell better and nudged Christian businesses to reach their potential. He’s authored 13 books, including The Good Book on Business, and presented in 47 states and 12 countries. Review his free resources for Christian businesspeople at the Biblical Business Resource Center.
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