Don’t Integrate Faith and Business – Live Your Faith


Christians, don’t integrate faith and business! Don’t integrate faith and anything. Live as followers of Messiah where you are. Business is about people. It’s having the right people cooperating in the right places, heading in the right direction, in the right vehicle, determined to delight customers. It is all about people! That’s why if you follow Jesus you should live the life as His follower wherever you are: Be a noun, a Christian always, not an adjective (Christian plumber, Christian doctor, and so on).

Business is the largest mission field available to Christians at home and abroad. It is the only wealth creating entity in society. Those of us whom God calls to be in business need to behave as His stewards (Colossians 3:23-24), and His disciples (Luke 14:25-34) always.

Don’t Integrate Faith and Business

Don't Integrate Faith and Business: Seek First His Kingdom
Don’t Integrate Faith and Business: Seek First His Kingdom

Many business leaders who follow Jesus and several pastors have not realized how much the church drifted into the world. Thus, they see a need for Christians in business to integrate their faith with business principles: take their faith into business. What does that mean?

Christianity is a lifestyle. The integration idea suggests it is not a lifestyle, but a set of principles to adapt to fit each situation. In church and “Christian” settings we live as Christ followers, but in business, we integrate faith and business principles.

Two fourth-year biblical studies students interviewed me in my capacity as a business professor. They asked two fundamental questions: How do I define ministry? How do business students carry out ministry? I told them ministry happens where you are: on the bus, at the gas station, in dorms, overseas, everywhere. Daily, each of us who follows Jesus should live a life that glorifies Him. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells His followers to go (as you go) into the world to make disciples. Discipleship happens everywhere and involves people in business. Every encounter is an opportunity to begin disciple-making process because it is an encounter with our Messiah.

Business is Ministry

My answer surprised the students. They could not imagine business students doing ministry. When do they go on the mission field? Business is about making money, isn’t it?

I assured them that making money is not a goal of firms like Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix. Money is a means of exchange; a bridge between the business and the customer. It measures results from decisions and activities. Money, per se, is never a proper goal. I repeat: it’s a bridge and it shows results. Firms make products or provide services for customers and clients. To function well, firms need people—employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, and more. Sustained profits flow from treating employees well, delighting customers, being fair to suppliers, and contributing to society.

Earlier, some of my students’ parents had similar issues. The fact their children were in the business program instead of a ministry program concerned them. I assured them if God called their children into business, these children would be in a significant mission field.

Don’t Integrate Faith and Anything

Don't Integrate Faith and Business or Anything
Don’t Integrate Faith and Business or Anything

This silo view that only folks in churches, para-churches, and overseas missionaries are in ministry is widespread in the church and among Christians. Industries are popping up to make business a ministry. We hear about “market place ministries” and similar seminars to help Christians integrate faith in business. Church leaders and businesspeople who are Christians ask Christians to integrate their faith in business’ principles and practices. Seminars and courses teach this approach. That’s too bad! Instead of equipping people to go where God leads them, people in churches, Bible schools, and Christians in business promote silo-living: a separate church life, business life, home life, and so on.

Many churches continue to mimic the world. Pastors and leaders seem to forget that as Jesus’ followers, we need to live lives that glorify Him everywhere we go. There is no need to integrate faith and business. All we need do is live by biblical teachings where we are. Still, folks want to integrate faith in business which produces synergism: merge two value-systems into a higher one. We imply we can cherry-pick the best values from each to apply in business.

Bible Truths are Excellent Business Principles

As Christ-followers, we must know the Bible is the basis of truth. And we must live its truths always because no values will exceed them. That said, effective business practices are Bible-based. My former company’s (Alcan Inc.) principles, objectives, and policies could have been (maybe they were) taken from the Bible: Be honest, have integrity, treat people as you would like them to treat you, don’t take bribes, create safe workplaces, protect the environment. I worked at Alcan over 32 years in over twenty countries, on each continent, and in distinct cultures. For the last sixteen years, I operated as a follower of Jesus and a senior executive. By God’s grace alone, I lived my faith. In every instance, my focus was on doing what’s right according to the Bible. Living my faith was enough.

Don’t Bible-Thump Others Are Watching

Christians don’t have to Bible-thump in business. We don’t have to preach. All we need to do is follow Bible teachings.  Non-Christians call this ethical behavior. They know positive results flow from such actions.

In each course I teach, I stress that business is a ministry. You are in business; you are in ministry! I encourage students to obey the greatest and the second greatest commandment that Jesus taught. Love people. I stress that when Christians follow Bible teachings in business, we have a competitive advantage. That’s our key to success.

I see my students follow this path. One former student told me of an incident where his supervisor insisted he falsified records to speed up product shipments. The student refused. He told his boss this was not the right way to treat customers. Besides, it was dishonest. His supervisor scolded him. The next day the supervisor and the supervisor’s boss met the student to apologize and commend him for his honesty. They admitted that consistent excellent customer service is essential. They agreed that the firm needed to be honest with everyone. This student did nothing but lived his life by Bible principles. He lived his faith; he did not integrate his faith with business principles!

Stay True to Bible Truths Always

Recently, I received this note from another former student:

Like any business, this dealership is determined to be successful. However, its guiding principle is to make as much money as possible from every deal. As a sales associate, I feel this is the wrong mentality to have. We should be looking to provide a service to our customers first. The outcome of a sale should take care of itself, if we are servicing our customers in truth and honesty.

He chose to follow the biblical path instead of integrating his faith with the business’ principles.
Do you want to integrate faith and business? Why are you not living as a follower of Jesus everywhere? The Bible is enough. It has all truth. Integration will lead to synergism and compromise. Don’t follow that path. Live a life that glorifies Jesus. You and I will fall, but He will pick us up.

Poor stewardship and greed were chief causes of the Great Recession. They involved many Christians. The world’s standards of making a fast buck attracted them. Jesus told us to be on guard against greed (Luke 12:15). This will be an ongoing challenge. However, staying focussed on our Messiah is the only way to go.

Today, many pastors behave like CEO’s and earn huge compensation to preach a feel-good gospel. An uninformed, naïve, self focussed population will continue to gravitate to people who tickle their ears. Pastors and business leaders need to adhere to Bible truths in the church and everywhere. We can do this with the Holy Spirit’s help.

© 2016 Michel A. Bell

SEE ALSO:

Stewardship in Business

Biblicial Stewardship Advice

Michel A. Bell

Michel A. Bell is a former senior business executive, author of seven books — including his first children's book published in 2022 — speaker, and adjunct professor of business administration at Briercrest College and Seminary. Michel is a Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountants (UK), holds a Masters of Science in management degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Doctor of Business Administration honoris causa from Briercrest College and Seminary. He is founder and president of Managing God's Money™ and Stewarding God's Resources.

2 thoughts to “Don’t Integrate Faith and Business – Live Your Faith”

  1. Thanks for your transparency, Dee. I think the key to living our faith in business is to do what’s right consistently, and not try to convert anyone. We must let the Holy Spirit do His work.
    Cutting corners is bad for business. Every good business (life) principle is rooted in the Bible.
    Again, thanks for your comments.
    Michel

  2. Thank you. I am ashamed to say that I have often found it challenging to just be a Child of God in my work space due to pressures to cut corners and lack of faith that He will complete the work He started in me. Thank you for the encouraging blog post. It means so very much.

    Regards,
    Dee

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