Principle 2 of the Christ-Centered Company Assessment: “Our company has a clearly stated, Bible-based statement of core identity and purpose that is well-understood by our company’s team members.”
“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained …” -Proverbs 29:18a
Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write down the vision and inscribe it clearly on tablets, so that one who reads it may run.” -Habakkuk. 2:2
Your team members and other stakeholders will most likely be indifferent (or even resistant) toward your company unless they have a clear sense of why you exist and where you’re leading the organization. Without this consistent clarity, Proverbs says your team members will be “unrestrained,” which will make it extremely difficult for them to support the work God has called you to do in the marketplace. Without a compelling sense of purpose to bridle their attention and energy, such people are only looking for a mere transaction (e.g., paycheck, purchase, etc.), and they’ll leave your company as soon as a slightly better deal comes along.
A statement of core purpose is more than a definition of what you do or how you do it. It’s a statement of why you do it. Simon Sinek said it well: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” As Christ-centered company leaders, it’s our responsibility to make this purpose consistently clear for our team members and other stakeholders.
Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Write down the vision and inscribe it clearly on tablets, so that one who reads it may run.’” Like Habakkuk, if we present our why with consistent clarity, our team members and other stakeholders can start running in our shared direction and stay on course.
Here are a few ways other Christ-centered companies have articulated their core purpose:
Your company’s why flows from your company’s who (i.e., your company’s identity). Before crafting your company’s statement of core purpose, let’s first define, in general terms, the identity of a “Christ-centered company.”
Yes, business institutions cannot be considered as “born-again,” for that unspeakable joy and privilege is reserved for individual people who possess a spirit, soul, and body. However, insofar as certain charities can be considered “Christian” charities and legal-entity church institutions (i.e., the physical address where you may show up on Sunday mornings) can be considered “Christian” organizations—despite that not every person sitting in its pews has been born-again in the John 3:3 sense—businesses may also be labeled as “Christian” in this regard. But rather than labeling a business—or, for that matter, any other organization—as “Christian,” I believe it is more theologically and biblically consistent to label such businesses as “Christ-centered.”
A Christ-centered company is “a value-making, profit-generating, and law-abiding organization dedicated to deliberately spreading the awareness of God’s glory.” Companies won’t remain in business if they’re not making value, generating profit, and abiding by the laws of the land. The biblical principles found in this book will help you achieve all three, regardless of your company’s core purpose and identity. But the definition’s aspect of being “dedicated to deliberately spreading the awareness of God’s glory” is the key differentiator between a Christ-centered company and those that are centered on something or someone else.
What is God’s “glory”? The writer of Hebrews said, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3). There is our answer: Jesus Christ is the glory of God. Thus, we can interpret Habakkuk 2:14 as follows:
For as the waters fill the sea, the
earth [including the business
world] will be filled with an
awareness of the glory of God
In the verse above, Habakkuk has prophesied the fulfillment of the “Great Commission” Jesus entrusted to his disciples in which he charged his followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The mandate wasn’t merely to “go and make profit” or “go and make a difference” although these are strategically significant. It’s to “go and make disciples.” Collectively, individual disciples of Jesus are called to disciple entire groups of people—that is, to reveal Jesus (the glory of God) throughout all spheres of all cultures in all societies.
As this corporate disciple-making happens in a company, the company becomes increasingly Christ-centered. In a Christ-centered business, Jesus is revealed through the leaders of the company and, ultimately, throughout the entire culture of the business. When aligned with this disciple-making mission in word and deed, Christ-centered businesses can be used as tools to help individuals, communities, nations, and industries reveal the glorious image and character of Jesus.
The culture of a Christ-centered company reflects the glory of Jesus. This happens to the extent that its team members operate as though Jesus is on the receiving end of everything done in and through the business (see Principle 1). And this process often begins when one influential person in the company decides to partner with God in His disciple-making mission.
There isn’t a single reference to God in the entire Book of Esther, yet the entire book is about God.
While the founders of legendary Christian-owned companies like Chick-fil-A and Interstate Batteries explicitly mention God in their statements of core purpose, this isn’t a requirement to be considered a Christ-centered company. Your statement of core purpose must be shared by all of your company’s team members, regardless of their religious affiliation.
What’s most important is that your company’s senior leaders understand that reflecting the glory of Jesus is the reason your company lives, moves, and has its being (Acts 17:28). And it’s not enough to simply go through the exercise of defining your company’s identity and purpose; it must permeate the entire culture of the organization.
When I speak with authors interested in publishing their books through my company, High Bridge Books, I always make sure the author understands who we are and why we do what we do. I have found this is a much more effective way to recruit the right authors than simply telling them what we do (i.e., publish, print, and market books). Here’s what I tell them.
I started High Bridge Books in 2013 while living on 175th Street in Manhattan. Just three blocks away from our apartment is the oldest bridge in all of New York City, the High Bridge, which was built as an aqueduct in 1837 to transport water from the mainland to the rapidly growing population of Manhattan. The Lord gave me a vision that our company would be like an aqueduct to bring life-giving messages and stories to people.
I’m sure you can imagine how that quick backstory resonates with our prospects far more profoundly than simply telling them about all the various features of our professional book publishing package. Our company isn’t just a publishing company. We are an aqueduct for life-giving messages and stories.
What is your statement of core identity and purpose? Write it down and share it with all who come in contact with your company.