I am often asked what I do for a living. When we meet new people, we often identify them by what they do for a living. You know exactly what I mean. Whether this is all good or all bad, I don’t know. What I do know is that I often get a funny look in return when I answer that I run a Christian car dealership group!
Sometimes I believe the funny look is simply related to me using “Christian” and “car dealer” in the same sentence! However, more often what throws them is the fact that I am calling my company a “Christian company”. This is not something people are familiar with hearing and they are not sure what to think of it.
Even for those of us who are followers of Jesus and also owners or leaders in the business world, there is confusion around exactly what makes a company “Christian”. Some believe any company that is owned by a Christian could be called a Christian company. Others think a Christian business is one that sells Christian products.
Of course, I don’t have the final say as to how we define a Christian company, but I do think we can benefit from some discussion about it. So let’s dig into what might be considered as some criteria for designating a business as “Christian”. I will also offer some practical examples of how we can strive to meet these criteria.
First of all, I think we would all agree that God owns everything. Scripture backs this up (Psalm 24:1). The difference is that most business owners and leaders fail to acknowledge God’s ownership in their company. Their decisions reflect the belief that THEY are the true owners, with God, at most, being a consultant.
I believe the leadership of a true Christian business recognizes God’s ultimate ownership and aligns their purposes with His purposes. This means that their scoreboard changes. Profit is no longer the end goal, but it instead becomes the means for carrying out His will in their sphere of influence (community, state, world, etc).
Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruit.” When we look at a business that is truly a Christian business, then we should recognize them by their fruit. Do they do business the same as everyone around them or are they markedly different?
Policies around care for employees and customers should reflect the character of Jesus. Jesus rewarded performance (Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30), but He also cared for the needy. A Christian business should reflect similar values in their processes and policies.
No company is perfect – Christian or not. At the same time, a Christian business should have a reputation over time that reflects their higher standards and eternal purpose (Proverbs 22:1). The leadership of these companies take a good name very seriously because they realize they are representing God to their employees, customers, and the community in which they operate.
When mistakes happen (and they will), Christian owners and leaders take every opportunity to rectify the situations in a way that honors God and not just their own bottom line. This behavior is not strictly for the sake of a good reputation, but because it is the right thing to do. The cool thing is that this behavior, over time, creates a sterling reputation!
The idea of an eternal perspective is a result of acknowledging God’s true ownership of the business and aligning purposes with His. An eternal perspective means that the leadership of the Christian business makes decisions based on a different time period (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
The vast majority of the business world makes decisions based on a perspective of months, quarters, or even years. There are a select few that will look out 10-20 years when making decisions. The Christian business owner recognizes that some decisions require an eternal perspective.
This means they consider the consequences of their decision in 1,000 years or more. To the non-believer, this is ludicrous. However, when the true owner of the business is God, this makes more sense.
Considering how decisions will impact the people involved in 1,000 years is rare, but certainly reflects the perspective that God has as owner. He is much more interested in our 1,000-year future than He is in our 30-day results!
I am sure there are more criteria we could come up with if we put our minds to it, but I am going to stop there in the interest of time. Now, I would like to give you some practical examples of how we can live out these criteria through a Christian business in the marketplace.
Different businesses will have varied methods to make this happen, but one central idea is to spread God’s Word. This is certainly one of God’s purposes and so we need to align with it. Some businesses can put Scripture verses on their stationery, invoices, or other communications with employees, customers, and community members. You need to look at your particular business and decide for yourself how it can work.
For us, we put a copy of the New Testament in the glove box of every vehicle that comes through our inventory. The cover says, “Owners Manual For Life”. We also have pocket-sized copies of the Gospel of John in our customer waiting areas with the encouragement for them to take one with them. In addition, we offer to buy a Bible for any employee that needs one – no charge to them.
One of the best benefits we provide our employees is our Chaplain program, provided by Corporate Chaplains of America**. Our chaplain is in our business facilities every week and speaks to every employee on each visit. He also teaches a Bible study over lunch and breakfast each week. We provide the food for these meetings, and attendance is voluntary.
Another benefit is our Impact Fund. It is funded by both the business and the employees (voluntarily through paycheck deduction). The money is used to help employees and their immediate families when crisis hits. It remains confidential, but the impact is clear!
There are many ways a business can impact the community around them. One of our methods is to partner with local, faith-based organizations for a $1.00 car wash event at our location. The organization provides the labor (typically youth) and we provide everything else. They keep all proceeds and donations and then we give them an additional amount for every vehicle they wash.
The youth learn the value of hard work, and the organization gets the funding it needs for their particular project. We have the opportunity to give into kingdom work while also building our reputation for supporting these organizations. The community gets to see faith organizations and businesses work together for immediate (and eternal) impact. Everyone wins!
Like I said, there are so many more ways to live out the criteria we discussed. For more practical ways to live out these criteria, check out my free ebook: CLICK TO ACCESS. I would love to hear your ideas, thoughts, and questions in the comment section below!