I get many opportunities to talk to other Christians that own or operate a business. When I try to explain to them why they should be using their business to impact people for eternity, I sometimes get a blank stare. They often ask me questions that indicate they have significant misconceptions about Christian business. Today, I want to dispel 5 of the most common myths I have encountered regarding Christian business.
The problem is that many people, even Christians, misunderstand what the Bible says about being a Christian. This is even more true when it comes to being a Christian in the business world.
As a result, they often associate Christianity with weakness, laziness, and blind faith. If you have been in business for any length of time, you know these qualities don’t add up to business success. So when I explain my efforts to run a Christian business, the response is not always very positive!
Let’s take a look at the 5 most common myths you might encounter or even believe yourself. Once we dispel these, I think you might have a much better picture of what your business should look like (and what it shouldn’t look like!).
Christian Businesses Should Hire Anyone!
This is a very common myth and it is rooted in the desire to be kind and fair to everyone. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you, right? While that last statement is true, it does not equate to a wide open hiring policy!
First of all, it is not fair to the applicant to hire them if they are not a good fit for the job. They will never get fulfillment from a job that does not fit them. By not hiring this applicant, you will “help” them move on to find the job that IS a fit for them. You may even choose to assist them in this search if you see enough potential in them.
Not only is it not fair to the applicant, it is not fair to the other current employees to make them work with someone that does not fit the job. This will only increase their load and cause other issues. Of course, the final damage is to the business itself. It is tough enough to run an efficient business without having to work around those not fit or qualified for their jobs.
Christian Businesses Should Say Yes to Any Request!
I cannot specifically say where this myth originates, but it certainly exists. Sometimes you get a local sports team looking for a sponsorship. In other cases, it is a customer looking for an excessive amount of free products or services. You will even have employees ask for difficult exceptions to company policies. I certainly believe we should try to accommodate requests to the extent that we can and when it makes good business sense. Sometimes, we might do it even when it does not make business sense (but we know it is the right thing to do at the time)! However, for us to say yes to (virtually) every request is impossible.
There are times when the only wise answer is, “No.” A Christian business owner must accept this and not let guilt take over. Jesus did not say yes to every request. Neither should we. Do the best you can, but don’t fall prey to this myth!
Christian Businesses Should Never Terminate Anyone!
To some, this may sound crazy, but I have actually had it said directly to me more than once. I guess people believe that since Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek and forgive 70 times 7 times, they should never fire anyone. Unfortunately, this is poor logic.
Folks, employees are not always going to do what they are supposed to do. Sometimes they will make a poor decision and steal or cheat the business for various reasons. Sometimes they will make too many mistakes, because they are preoccupied or not taking their job seriously.
Other times their behavior is due to a poor fit for the job (bad hire) or lack of training. Regardless of the reasons, there comes a time when their continued employment is bad for them or the company or both. Therefore, their employment needs to end. This is a must if your business is going to remain healthy, providing opportunities for those that do fit.
Christian Businesses Should Give Away Products & Services!
I think the fact that people associate Christians with giving to charity, they leap to the idea that Christian businesses can and should do the same...with everything! Now before you laugh, this is no joke! I have had people tell me that I am responsible to give them (fill in the blank) because we are a Christian business.
If pressed, they may not think we should do it for everyone, but they clearly believe it should be true for them. As business owners, we know this is crazy, but we still struggle with our pricing, margins, and good will decisions. Sometimes we buy into this myth without realizing it.
The bottom line is that we have to make a healthy profit if we want to continue to be in business. We cannot "give away" our products and services as a habit. Sure, we can (and should) designate a portion of our proceeds to help out those in need around us. However, this charity should not work its way into our everyday transactions. We cannot afford it!
Christian Businesses Are Complacent!
I am not sure if this is more prevalent among people outside the business or inside it. Too many Christian business owners have allowed themselves to think they should not have to work as hard or drive for excellence, because they are doing their work for God. Hopefully, this sounds backwards to you, but many actually think this way!
Folks, we are to work harder and drive for greater excellence for the very reason that we answer to the Lord as the true owner of our business. We should never become complacent, thinking He will understand or that He should just be glad we are doing all of this for Him. That is very dangerous thinking!
We owe Him our everything! We are commanded to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We cannot do this and be complacent at the same time. These two ideas are polar opposites!
Seek God's Help!
Hopefully, you recognize these 5 ideas as myths and have not fallen victim to this kind of thinking. However, if you struggle with any of them, I encourage you to seek God in prayer about them. I think you will come to realize the truth and see them for the myths they are!
By: Chris Patton
Chris Patton is President of the Mike Patton Auto Family in LaGrange, Georgia. Along with his brother (and partner) Brian, Chris is a third-generation owner and grew up working in every department in the business, beginning at the age of 10. Chris also writes a blog called Christian Faith At Work (ChristianFaithAtWork.com). He is writing it to business owners and leaders who are trying to figure out how to integrate their Christian faith into their businesses. Chris and his wife Kim live in LaGrange, GA with their three children.Read More Articles by Chris Patton