catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 5 :: 2003.02.28 — 2003.03.13


Faithful in business

How do you apply your faith to your business practices?

Cyndy, Real Estate Agent: God is the one who led me to real estate in the first place. No matter what job I do, I want to do it to God's glory! I pray for my clients—for the buyers that they will find the right house and for the sellers that the right people will purchase their home. The process of purchasing a home takes 4-6 weeks, and can be a trying experience. I continue to pray that everything will work out for them, whether they are purchasing or selling. At the end of the deal, I thank God that it's gone through.

Some agents believe in shades of grey when it comes to business practices. As a Christian, I try to do everything in black and white. I'm honest with people, and I don't just try to close the deal if I don't feel it's right for them. People come back to me and refer me to others because they know that I want what is best for them, not for my pocketbook!

Eric, Inside Sales Associate for Wholesale Distributor: I try to go through each workday without losing the concept that Eric the Christian and Eric the sales person are not separate and distinct beings; that there should be only one ethic guiding me through my day, not two.

Kathy, Senior Internet Account Executive for Relocation Company: I believe that my faith affects all aspects of my life. I feel my work reflects in some way my relationship with God. I need to do my best—be my best for God not my employer. I work very hard to do an excellent job. I pray regularly for my work—that God will give me clients that I can work with and that need our services. But the responsibility does not lay on God alone. God has given be talents and abilities and I need to use them in my job and throughout my life to honor him. I believe that God honors my request for his guidance and assistance in my work. I am often amazed that in almost 4 years with this company, each month I have been able to meet and exceed the goals my supervisors set for me. I attribute this to God?s provision for me and my family, as well as hard work on my part.

Brianne, Muscle Therapist: I don't wear scrubs that tout "I Love Jesus". But I honor the fact that I have a career that allows me to offer and receive love in whatever way is needed, to lengthen a trapezoid due to hypertone in the pectoral muscle leading to spasm in the mid thoracic region caused by overuse injury and postural contraction of the rectus and oblique abdominals, or to give a hug. It's pretty much the same.

Rich, Construction Company Owner: One of my favorite words is integrity. It is the basis for just about everything I do as a businessman. Without it I think I would have a difficult time doing just about anything. The reason I say this is because even though we live in an era where everything is done with contracts and we try to document everything, we also live in very complicated times where it is almost impossible to keep track of it all. My job would become a lot more difficult if the people I deal with—clients, subcontractors, and employees—would lose their trust in me. I firmly believe that my faith gives me the strength to act with integrity.

Peggy, Nurse Practitioner: Application of the gift of faith in business practices/professional life is a part of the totality of my life. In Christ I am a new creation in all areas of my life (home, work, community) as well as in my "religious" activities. Being re-created constantly in the image of Christ compels me to allow others to change and grow. In my public health work I labor to prevent disease, disability, and death. Meeting people where they are and guiding them to healthy choices is my calling. Isn't that what Jesus the great healer did?

Jenny, Automotive Engineer: Because I have faith, I know that I am a steward. My talents and education are not my own. My profits are not my own. My time is not my own. The stewardly use of my talents is to use them to the best of my ability. Therefore, I am dedicated to being the best craftsman I can be, whether it is designing part of the interior of a car or as simple as writing a report.

What challenges do you face in applying your faith to your particular area of business?

Peggy, Nurse Practitioner: More and more health care is a commodity to be bought and sold and people are seen as customers. Unfortunately, the people who have no access to health insurance may not be eligible for services. This is especially true as Michigan (and many other states) are facing major fiscal problems. Less money is available for Medicaid and other publicly funded health programs. In fact, the clinic I was practicing in closed in November 2002 and more cuts are on the horizon. So a challenge to me is how to offer the best prevention services. And how do I do this with integrity? I am employed and I have health benefits, but the people I serve may not have a job or insurance. I cannot suggest to an unemployed person with a weight problem (which can cause hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes) that she join a gym and use special diet products. I need to walk the talk to be credible. We in the USA live in the wealthiest nation on earth, spend more on health care and have less to show for it compared to other industrialized nations. So the stewardship of health care is a challenge for me. I realize more and more that I need to be an advocate for health care even outside of my daily job.

Eric, Inside Sales Associate: The biggest challenge I face every day is practicing honesty in every situation and with everyone I encounter. There are many situations in which I might be tempted to tell less than the truth, in order to avoid unpleasant circumstances. It is a constant struggle. The other huge challenge for me is keeping control of my temper under duress, not allowing it to rule my thoughts and actions—also a constant struggle.

Kathy, Senior Internet Account Executive: In a service-oriented company I feel that I need to be totally honest to my clients about what we can do for them. I will not promise them something that I cannot deliver. When I make a promise to a client, I fully intend to keep that and make that a big priority. As far as co-workers—I do have certain goals that I am expected to meet each month and I know that others in my group do not always have the same work ethic I do. Work will be sent in that is substandard—just to meet goals. I work very hard to have my work be quality work. I mention this because applying my faith in business to my clients and co-workers, means that I need to be above reproach. As a Christian I represent God and I certainly want to be fair and honest and to do my best in that regard.

Cyndy, Real Estate Agent: I don't work on Sundays, as that is my day for church and family. When I was interviewing for a company to work for, most of them said you HAD to work on Sundays. When I called the company I work for now, the manager was very understanding when I told her I didn't work on Sundays. At that point, I knew I had found my "work home". I do have clients who ask me to show them houses on Sundays, but after explaining my reasoning, they're willing to wait until Monday. As far as open houses, there are always new agents who are willing to do open houses, or I volunteer to do them on Saturdays. A lot of other agents have decided it's kind of nice to do it on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, so maybe things are starting to change!

Jenny, Automotive Engineer: The hardest thing about being Christian in the automotive industry
is the cut-throat competition. Only those companies with the cheapest costs and highest profits are supposed to survive. The easy solution is to cut corners and over-quote products. True stewardship is to use your talents to come up with a revolutionary idea that is cheaper and faster and share half the savings with your customer because you care about making them more successful.

Time is also a big one. In our culture, time is money. In my industry time is worth $0.01/sec. It is so easy to be caught up in MY projects, MY time, MY goals that you can't stand to share your time. God can use our time even more than money sometimes. Thank goodness that I work for a company that agrees with me on that.

Brianne, Muscle Therapist: It is nerve racking to be self-employed. When I first began, I was sure that I was going to fail. I was sure that each passing week would be the last, that I wouldn't be able to pay my mortgage, my car payment, keep my phone and electric hooked up…it was very dramatic. And every week, somehow I would have enough. Doubt and worry is always present when a livelihood is dependent on others? needs and willingness to pay for my service, but little by little, I began to remember that I had made it through that first financial crisis (and near nervous breakdown). I began to recall that I had paid my bills the month after that. My car hadn't yet been repossessed. My utilities were still functioning a year later. I had plenty to eat the year after that. Even now, going on my third year of being self-employed, I have worries and I imagine my idea of God, first laughing at my quirks, then shaking His head at my folly, and finally throwing up His hands in disgust and disbelief at my recurrent worry.

I am learning, however. When four cancelled clients equals a couple hundred dollars out the window that I was expecting, what do I do? When the patient calls to say that her son is sick and she can't make her appointment, what do I do? I swallow down the fear that I won't have enough. I resist the urge to panic. I tell the mother to take care of her son and to give me a call if she needs to reschedule. I rest in grace and know that my hand to some of these people is the only touch they receive, my ear may be the first to listen to their concerns, my kindness may be the balm for self-doubt, or perhaps I just figure out the puzzle of low back pain. It is just that simple and exactly that complex.

How does your faith affect your relationship to your employees, subordinates, clients or co-workers?

Cyndy, Real Estate Agent: I feel the daily walk of any Christian is watched by others. There have been Christians who have worked in my office in the past who, according to those "watching," weren't acting in a very Christian manner. None of us is perfect, we all sin—it's just that they watch us, as Christians, so much closer. My colleagues probably consider me a subtle Christian, as I don't wear it on my shirtsleeve. By doing this, I feel I can touch more of my co-workers.

Kathy, Senior Internet Account Executive: Because I work from home and have limited personal contact with co-workers I would have to say that my faith has limited effect on my co-workers. As we meet via conference calls, etc., it is strictly work related. My involvement in church and the fact that my kids attend a Christian school is well known with co-workers. With the exception of one person whom I have gotten to know on a bit more personal basis, I have not really had the opportunity to share much of my personal faith. When I was going through a very difficult personal problem, I confided in this co-worker. I was also able to share with her how my faith in God was so important in getting through that situation. It was encouraging to her and she has often asked how things are going—giving me additional opportunities to share evidence of God's love and care.

Rich, Construction Company Owner: I try to be faithful to my employees. I see being an employer as a big responsibility. I do not believe that preaching to people who depend on you for their livelihood is effective. It is like having a captive audience, only this one is on the payroll. I hope that my employees can see my faith and beliefs through the way I do business and through how they are supported in their jobs.

Brianne, Muscle Therapist: Dealing with the public on a regular basis in any field requires faith of some sort—faith in humankind, in their honesty, dependability, even their simple kindness. Likewise, it also increases faith.

As a self-employed muscle therapist, specializing in the functional bodywork portion of integrative medicine, I deal with people in a very intimate way, often at vulnerable times of severe or long-term pain. I see patients who have already been to doctors and specialists, been medicated and sometimes patronized. Many feel as if no one has heard them.

That seems to be where I have learned to begin—by listening. Sometimes the words that are said contain more information than what I need to know as a professional, but I have begun to realize that my hearing those extra words are what I need to do as a person. I often wonder how people can trust me enough to follow my suggestions, to entertain my opinions and hypotheses, to share with me concerns, honest evaluations of progress and just general day-to-day life. I've often wondered if I deserve that trust. But I am grateful for the chance to earn it.

Peggy, Nurse Practitioner: The gift of faith is profoundly relational. Because of what God has done for me through his unending love, I respond by reaching out to those around me including my co-workers at all levels. I see myself as a part of a team and all members are important. We all need coaching and pep talks. Isn't that what Jesus modeled as a servant to all?

Jenny, Automotive Engineer: It is important to live in integrity, justice, love, and compassion. This applies to the people I work with in my company. The way I assign tasks, the support I give, the way I pass people in the hall. I think a true Christian mentor grows others with the goal of being surpassed. It is amazing how evident Christian joy is in a high stress environment. These values also apply to the way my company does business with customers and suppliers. This attitude toward the customer affects the quality of the product I produce and the level of service I provide. Acting with integrity can be extremely expensive. The amazing thing is that to do business by true values is actually profitable in the long run. It is more that we are blessed than that we are good.

Eric, Inside Sales Associate: I must constantly remind myself that my co-workers and I are human, and thus, flawed. It helps me a lot when I think of how patiently Jesus dealt with his disciples even when they were at their worst. I also think about the patience and diligence of Paul and the other apostles as they taught the faith in the fledgling church. Most of all, I try to see my co-workers and myself as I know Jesus sees us. When I slow my pace and think in this way, I am humble and I learn something of patience.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus