GOD AND THE BOTTOM LINE

The American workplace is changing: Management styles, markets, individual qualifications, and what it takes to succeed. If you can’t keep up, you will be left behind.

Successful businesses focus on efficiency and improved productivity and quality. To meet these goals, managers have learned the value of treating employees with a measure of respect: listening to suggestions, heeding criticisms, and promoting teamwork. However, many of these same managers privately view their employees as expendable as Pentium 1 processors. Job security, even in management, is a thing of the past.

Marketplace factors, not human factors control the marketplace. Managers hire, promote, and pay employees based on the company’s need and the employee’s ability to produce. And they are fired if they are unable to produce efficiently.

The new climate in America’s workplace is insensitive, even brutal, and it is not likely to change any time soon. Today’s successful business/people must make objective decisions. Only the bottom line warrants consideration. The workplace has no room for sentimentality.

This new objectivity has opened doors for those who are professionally qualified regardless of race, gender, or social position. Success, in terms of money and prestige, is based upon merit rather than on social or economic background.

Prestigious universities are still important, yet employers now place more emphasis on what workers have learned rather than where they learned it. Although some obvious pluses accompany this new objectivity, is it truly the best way to conduct business?

Unfortunately, many Christians jump into the workplace with little forethought as to how they intend to meet workplace challenges, gain and keep respect, or increase their income. They don’t consider that the workplace is a microcosm of the culture. Pitfalls that exist in the neighborhood, city, state, and country will also be in the workplace. Like anyone else, Christians can be solely driven to make the bottom line black and fat, but they do not always understand that they have access to an advantage that transcends the bottom line.

Thirty-plus years in management have taught me that the most successful people consistently buck popular trends. They have learned to understand the trends and know which ones to buck and when to buck them. In today’s workplace, Christians have an inside track on both “what” and “when,” yet they frequently fail to act on it.

I have been a business and management consultant. I confess to often scratching my head and wondering why Christian clients fail to see or acknowledge their tremendous advantage in the workplace. They don’t seem to understand what it is much less what to do with it.

This book is about just that—the Christian’s advantage in the workplace, what it is and how to use it. Those who have received Christ as Savior and invited the Holy Spirit’s guidance into their lives will learn how to make the connection between their spiritual lives and their careers, prepare for the tasks at hand, make wise business decisions, submit to chains of command, and develop healthy coworker relationships.

Everything in this book is based upon what the authors have learned in the workplace and/or in the Bible. The message is directed primarily to people who often wonder how God fits in the workplace and desire careers in leadership, entrepreneurship, or management; therefore, we have included a number of biblical references and encourage you to study them. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1, “Basics,” lays a foundation for the Christian advantage; Part 2, “Working,” explores surviving and thriving in the workplace; and Part 3, “Managing,” addresses several issues every manager faces at one time or another. At the end of each chapter is a summary of the main points and questions for you to consider and answer. This book can be used by individuals or in a group study.

The Bible is many things; it includes a manual for living. God told the Israelites how to live a healthy and prosperous life. He taught them sanitation, what to eat, how to raise their crops and animals, how to live a life of purity, and how to be prosperous. “He who trusts in the LORD will prosper” (Prov. 28:25). When I was younger, this didn’t mean a whole lot to me, because in the world’s eyes, I had not prospered, nor did I believe I needed to know how to live in this world.

I have since learned that every Christian can become prosperous. It starts with Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” The world says that everyone can have anything they want. All they have to do is to buy on credit. Many Americans believe it is their right to have a home, a new car, and the latest fads and gadgets. They are entitled to eating out and keeping up with the latest fashions. But what happens in volatile economic times when the credit stops flowing and we have declining housing prices? A believer who heeds the verse that says “Let no debt remain outstanding” (Rom. 13:8a) will not live like the world lives, but rather as God intended, mostly debt free and with adequate savings.

In Matthew 25:14–30, Christ tells the parable of the talents. A master gives one servant five talents (for example $50,000), to another two talents ($20,000), and to a third, one talent ($10,000). All were given according to their ability. Two went to work and doubled their master’s money. The one-talent man took the money and buried it. When the master returned and saw that the two servants had doubled his money, he said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” The servant who had received the one talent and had buried it was told: “You wicked, lazy servant.” The master took the talent from him and gave it to the one who had been given five talents.

What kind of stewards are we? As believers are we serving God as the two servants did, or are we living self-serving lives as the one-talent man did? We must first understand that as believers we have received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives and does many things. First, He becomes our partner and helps us to mature in Christ. And second, he aids us in living righteous lives: making good and ethical decisions and assisting us in changing how we think. We then live as God intends and not as the world dictates, which can get us into all kinds of problems, particularly financial ones.

It is my belief that too many Christians have accepted Christ as their Savior but fail to live by the guidelines given in the Bible. It is difficult to give up the ways of the world. From birth, we lived as the world lives. Once saved, many Christians continue living just as they always have. They experience little or no change in their lifestyles. They buy homes they cannot afford, purchase cars that are too expensive, and run up credit card debt with monthly payments too difficult to meet. Too often pride overcomes heavenly wisdom. We then pray to God to get us out of our financial disaster.

The book was written to share with Christians that they have a unique advantage, having the Holy Spirit to guide them in making decisions, in leading and having a servant’s heart. God has not planned that Christians fail. If we fail it is because we have not followed Biblical guide lines. If we do follow the Bible and fail, it is to build our faith and strengthen us for a better future. God will use adversity to change our direction. The Holy Spirit is the best guide for life we can use. We must not ignore God’s Spirit.

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