I was recently asked by a reader if labeling our business as “Christian” was offensive to non-Christian employees. We had a great discussion, but it made me realize that this concern might be prevalent among Christian business owners or leaders, possibly even preventing many from stepping out in faith to leverage their business for eternal returns.
In an effort to address this concern or fear, I thought I would share our experience in today’s post. While my perspective is not the final authority on the matter, I do think it is relevant. Hopefully, what I share will put others minds at ease and encourage them to do the same!
First of all, like many concerns, this one is not really as big as it looks. What I mean is that it was a real concern of mine before we began being open about the Christian purpose of our business. I thought, like many others, that calling our business “Christian” would cause many to leave or stay away. I thought it might be offensive to non-Christian employees AND customers. I was scared to death…initially.
Once we made the decision to move forward despite the risks, it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, there were initial questions as to what it meant to the employees. They were unsure of our intentions. However, once we clarified the overall vision of the company, many accepted it – even embraced it. Some left for various reasons…possibly resulting from their disagreement with our vision, but they did not make it known to me.
Step Out (Without Being Offensive)
If you are in a position where you want to step out and make it clear that your business is a Christian company (without being offensive), then I have some advice. These are the steps I would recommend you take as you move forward. Don’t skip any of them or you could make it more difficult in the future.
1. Pray first, then decide.
This is not a quick decision or one made on a whim. This is a serious move in your business that will not be easy. Pray through the decision. Seek God’s leading (James 1:5-7). Decide in your heart and make sure your “Why?” is clear. This is the biggest step in the process. Do not skip or short-cut this part of the process.
2. Put it in writing.
Simply announcing this move will not work. It must be in writing. You need a mission statement that clearly defines the new purpose of your business. It should match up with Scripture. It will serve as a benchmark for your every decision. This is another huge step and should take some time to complete. Don’t move forward without it.
3. Be clear.
Get in or get out. If you are going to take this step, make it clear to everyone involved. Don’t hedge or sit on the fence (Revelation 3:15-16). Make sure everyone involved knows you are not announcing that you have it all figured out or that you are perfect and want to bless everyone else with your knowledge.
They need to know you are humble and sincere in your desire to run the business in this manner. You are simply acknowledging God’s ownership of the business and will do your best to run it accordingly.
This includes being clear with prospective employees. Mention your vision and its meaning in your interview process. Review it in more detail in a new hire orientation process. As far as it depends on you, never allow someone to be surprised by how your company operates.
4. Ensure your walk matches your talk
First, your company policies and procedures should match up with your mission (which matches up with Scripture). Second, your own personal walk must match up with your new vision (1 John 2:6). No, you do not have to be perfect! But you do have to walk in a way that exemplifies the vision you are casting for everyone.
If you want to offend employees, then just say one thing and do another while at the same time proclaiming that you run a Christian business! This is the quickest path to trouble!
5. Stay firm, apply grace.
Balance grace with conviction. Early on, your new vision may not be challenged directly, but will be challenged in the little things. You will need to balance your enforcement and protection of the vision with grace for the offenders.
Do not give in on the critical stuff, but be willing to bend a little when it is appropriate. Everyone needs to know you are serious and will not retreat, but they also need to know your people are more important than your policies.
6. Be okay with slow progress.
At every step, I underestimated the time it would take to change the organization. Maybe I am just slow! The truth, I believe, is that people are not as quick to change as we might like. Give them time and introduce your changes slowly. Don’t stop, but slowing is perfectly acceptable.
Over time, you will be amazed at the distance you have travelled on this path. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and progress will come!
Have you been afraid of being offensive to non-Christian employees?
What are some other methods you could use to avoid being offensive?
Do you think the potential to offend should hold you back?
photo by Mitchell Joyce