Making Your Business a Ministry

Here’s another take on my previous posts.  I’m going to ask you to think about your business in a completely different way from the traditional (contemporary) capitalistic view of a business as a machine to produce profit.  This may at first seem to stretch your imagination, but think of your business as a ministry.  What is a ministry?  From a religious context, in this case, from the point of view of a follower of Christ, a ministry is an activity that puts Jesus’ teachings into action through his disciples.  It fills one or more of many needs that human beings have for food, clothing, shelter, healing, security, personal growth, service, love, and others.  It affirms and edifies people, both individuals and groups.

What does your business do?  Yes, it makes money (if organized and managed effectively).  But it does so by filling one or more of many needs that people have, both as individuals and as groups.  In the process it should affirm and edify people, not diminish or disrespect them.  It ministers to the needs of many different people; those of its owners, employees, customers, vendors and suppliers, and communities.  And, I hope, it does so in a way that exemplifies your highest values and principles in every decision you make and action you take.

You as the business owner are, or should be, a servant leader, a minister to those who you employ to carry out the purpose of your business.  You minister to their needs so that they may be free to perform up to their highest potential, enabling your organization to perform up to its highest potential.  By doing so in a way that exemplifies your highest values and principles, you capture not only the bodies and minds of your people, but their hearts and souls as well.  The result is a high performance organization filled with motivated people who can accomplish extraordinary things.

Your business ministers to your customers by satisfying their individual or collective need through effective application of your core competencies and resources.  By clarifying the need your business will address, you are defining the purpose and mission of the business.  By expanding on those ideas you are establishing the vision for your business.  By focusing on specific needs you are defining your target market, the subset of people to whom you are best equipped and resourced to minister.

Your business ministers to your vendors and suppliers by accepting the products and services they offer to fulfill your business’ needs and giving them a fair price.  By negotiating with them and treating them in a manner that once again is consistent with your highest values and principles you build a productive and sustainable relationship enabling them to fulfill their purpose and you to fulfill yours.

Your business ministers to the community by giving of its time and resources to improve the community that supports your business through the services it provides.  By clarifying the community needs to which your business will minister based on available resources and core competencies, you will be giving back, and building productive relationships that will further benefit your business.  The result is that your business will have assumed some measurable social responsibility.

Your business ministers to humanity as a whole by being a good steward of the natural resources it consumes, by never taking our natural resources and habitat for granted, and by ensuring the sustainability of the surrounding environment, to keep it fit for human habitation.  Essentially, you establish goals for effective use of resources, and define processes that minimize waste, limit consumption of nonrenewable resources, provide for the sustainability of renewable resources, and limit or prevent contamination of the habitat surrounding your business.  Again, the result is that you benefit your business and assume additional measureable social responsibility.

That is what I mean by thinking of your organization as a ministry.  You build your ministry on a firm foundation, one of principles, values and morals, and you focus it on people and their needs, not things.  Material things become the tools and resources through which needs are satisfied.  This is what your organization does, and if it is an effective ministry in these areas, profit will be the reward.  Profit is put in its proper place as the measure of the success of your ministry, not the sole goal.  Kind of sheds a whole new light on the concept of capitalism, doesn’t it?

Peace my friends…