Before the Industrial Revolution, before the founding of these United States, before the Renaissance, from the middle ages back through history people focused on using their gifts, talents, and skills to fill needs, and expected payment often in trade or barter, to fulfill their own needs for survival. People had vocations, a “calling” to a certain trade or activity they were best equipped (we Christians like to say, by God) to perform.
Hundreds of years ago, in most cultures there was little organized “business” activity other than through guilds, or through groups of servants or staff gathered to serve the needs of a ruling individual or class. Businesses were sole proprietorships and family members operating out of homes and small shops. The point is that most human endeavor was directed toward filling one or more of many individual or collective needs. Successfully fulfilling a need meant survival first, satisfying a higher calling second, and only rarely amassing wealth, or making a profit. People were rewarded for their skill and the quality of their work; the gifts they brought to their trade.
In our capitalistic society we have managed to reverse the equation, put profit before all else, substitute the concept of career for vocation or calling, and place the priority on how effectively we can market to the perceived needs of consumers by redefining their needs for them rather than ascertaining what are their true needs. In business today we’ve lost sight of individual and collective needs and focused instead on how much profit we can make, no matter what it takes. In the need versus greed battle, it appears that greed has won. But that is the subject of another post.
We need to get back to this idea of defining the purpose of our organizations, whether for profit or not, in terms of satisfying an individual or collective need. From a Christian perspective, we believe God has a plan for each of us, and that plan can be discerned by looking at how He has gifted each of us, with what talents He has infused us, with what passions He has ignited our spiritual fire. Going back in human history, those gifts, talents and passions drove God’s purpose for each of us and gave us that calling to a particular vocation for which we were best suited.
Following that logic, it stands to reason that if God’s plan for you is to be an entrepreneur, a business owner, then wouldn’t God also have a plan for your business? In fact, wouldn’t it be an extension of His plan for you?
If we employ that same discernment process to define the purpose of our organizations, we begin to think of our organizations as ministries designed to satisfy an individual or collective need. Having defined our purpose, we can hire people called to a particular vocation instrumental in fulfilling that purpose; people who have certain core competencies (gifts, talents, and passions amplified by education and experience) essential to the success of our organizations.
We bridge the gap from business to ministry by defining purpose in terms of need and finding people called to satisfy that purpose. We formulate our plans, strategies, processes, and structure around our purpose and our people. We collectively oversee our organization’s processes to ensure we stay on task. We ensure our people are relieved from burdens which keep them from achieving their full potential. And we take those actions with faith and confidence that our organizations will be appropriately rewarded for fulfilling our purpose. Our organizations become people centered, servant led, values focused, purpose driven, community friendly, and environmentally responsible.
And so we begin to bridge the gap from business to ministry.
Peace my friends…