Mike Tyson was once quoted as saying, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” While I am not a Tyson fan, I do think his quote should get our attention. Our “plan” to define success as hearing Jesus say, “Well done” is one thing. Living it out when there are difficult circumstances…that’s a different story.
Billy Graham has a quote that effectively gives us a picture of two different definitions of success in this world: “Many Christians would prefer to hear, ‘What a great guy’ from the crowd rather than ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ from the Master.”
Decision & Action
I propose that our definition of success in this life should be for us, at the end of our lives, to hear Jesus say, “Well done!” The first step in this process is the decision to define success this way.
The second step is to actually live the decision out in our everyday lives. For Christian business owners and leaders, this means we are to live it out in the marketplace. We are to place more value on hearing, “Well done” from Jesus than we place on what the crowd thinks about us.
As Tyson so wisely said, the plan is fine until difficult circumstances smack you in the face. What then? What are we to do when choosing to please Jesus will actually cause us loss in this world? How should we respond to a situation when pleasing Jesus will risk the health of our businesses or jobs? Let’s take a look at a couple of examples that might hit close to home.
James has a well-established business, and things seem to be clicking along. Profit is good, and employees are happy. Things change when James begins to feel God leading him in a different direction with his business. He realizes God is calling him to step out in faith with a significant change in his business philosophy.
As James analyzes the change in philosophy, he recognizes that it will likely result in significant turnover and loss of profits—at least in the short-term. While he is willing to trust that God has his long-term best interests in mind, there are clear, negative consequences to moving forward with this change. Not only will his profits likely slide, but he will also become very unpopular with his employees and maybe even his partners.
What should he do?
Core Values Violation
Bill is everyone’s favorite manager. He is funny, full of energy, and brings life into the room when he enters. He is also Jan’s top performer. In Jan’s business, Bill is the go-to guy to get things done. She knows she can rely on him, and he always pulls through with results. He has been with her for more than 15 years and is well-known in her community.
Unfortunately, Jan becomes aware of something Bill has done that violates one of the core values of her business—integrity. The consequences of his actions will cause her significant trouble and could even lead to short-term disaster. Others will likely not see his actions as being central to the resulting problems, but she knows otherwise.
When she looks at the offense, she admits it appears to be something minor—not worthy of taking extreme action. However, she also knows it is something she has discussed with Bill on numerous occasions, with escalating degrees of seriousness. This kind of behavior is no longer something she can accept from someone in his position.
What should she do?
Folks, in both of these cases, there seems to be a clear path to take if we are serious about seeking to hear, “Well done” from Jesus. I don’t think any of us have a problem seeing the right thing to do. Unfortunately, in both cases these decisions will cause loss of popularity with employees and people in the community. Hearing, “What a guy” from the crowd is very unlikely after making these decisions.
These are the kinds of difficult circumstances that can change our path if we are not fully committed to our decision to please God and honor Him with our businesses. These are the kinds of situations that Tyson referred to as getting “punched in the mouth.”
Where is your commitment when you face difficult circumstances?
Are you willing to face the heat from the crowd in order to hear Jesus commend you?
Are you willing to trade their commendations for His?
If you have not thought through these questions before, I suggest you do so now. As I have said before, the time to make the decision on these kinds of questions is now, not later in the heat of battle. If you wait, you lose.
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