They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look at the picture below and tell me what you see. Did you catch the anomaly? If so, what does it say to you? Do you see how it relates to how Christian business leaders can kill their Christian witness by trying to fit in?
The car in the picture is a 1991 Honda Accord. If you look closely, you will see a “GMC” emblem on the grille of the car. I took this picture in the mountains of North Georgia while on vacation. Because I am a car guy, the moment I saw the car, a caption came to mind – ”…when you live in the mountains and all your friends drive GMC trucks!”
I may be jumping to conclusions here, but it looks to me like the owner of this car changed out the typical “H” Honda emblem for the more mountain-popular “GMC” emblem commonly seen on many local trucks. Maybe it was just a joke, but it sure looks like he (or she?) was simply trying to fit in, to blend with the crowd.
Why Try To Fit In?
How does this apply to you, the Christian business owner or leader?
Simple. Stop and look around at your surroundings. Look at your business. Look at your lifestyle. Consider your habits and pursuits. Where are you trying to fit in…and for what purpose?
If you stop and think about it, there are many ways Christian business leaders or owners can try to blend in with his or her surroundings. While there are certainly benefits to doing this if your motivation is right, the problem is that this is done quite often for the wrong reasons. If the blending in is an effort to fit in for the purpose of acceptance and security, then there is a problem.
Our acceptance and security should come from our relationship with Jesus. As Christ-followers, we should be intentional about seeking our confidence and protection from Him, not from the world around us. Any action on our part with an alternate purpose takes us away from God and toward a relationship with the world. It also kills our witness with those who are watching us.
Christian Business Leaders Beware
Here are seven all-to-familiar compromises by Christian business leaders and owners trying to fit in with the culture around them. See if any of these ring a bell with you.
1. Tell the Little White Lie
In an industry mastermind group meeting I attended, one dealer had the idea of sending a letter to random customers stating that a minor mistake had been found in their most recent billing. The amount was minimal (<$5.00) and a check was included to correct the “mistake”. While the intent was innocent (increase trust), the method was simply a lie.
See, there was no mistake found – just a little white lie to make it appear so. Everyone in the group agreed to implement the idea upon returning to their respective businesses. I agreed and almost executed before I realized the whole idea was based on a lie. Why didn’t I stand up at the time of the idea and call it what it was?
2. Embrace the Extravagant Lifestyle
This one is a strong temptation, especially if your business is very successful and highly profitable. You want to “fit in” with other successful business people so you spend more to keep pace with them. The problem here is that no one blows a whistle when you cross the line. How much is enough? When does your lifestyle stop honoring God? When does it begin to draw you away from Him?
3. Put Ego First
Pride and vanity are among the most common sins – and potentially the most dangerous. Lucifer’s sin was in this category and it cost him everything. When you are spending time around those who tend to take credit for every success and see “self” as their main pursuit, you are prone to follow suit. It is a dangerous, slippery slope and the fall is deadly.
4. Join the Party
Whether the circumstances here include out-of-town travel or just dinner after work with associates, an innocent break from the grind can take a turn for the worse. There is nothing at all wrong with going out to dinner or coffee with co-workers or business associates. These activities can prove to be advantageous. Unfortunately, they can also lead to serious trouble. Not knowing where to draw the line can put you in very compromising positions.
5. Take Advantage of the Weak
It starts in elementary school. The strong take advantage of the weak. They take lunch money and give wedgies at that age. More often than not, the “bully” has followers right there with him. As these people get older, the methods may change, but the result is the same. Read Proverbs 1:10-16 for a detailed description of this practice.
6. Ignore the needy
This compromise can go hand-in-hand with #2, but can also happen on its own. A Christian business owner or leader may not be living the extravagant lifestyle, but still may look at the needy as bringing it on themselves. This attitude can come up in water-cooler conversations or at a dinner party. Usually paired with a political discussion, the comments don’t appear out of line at first. But over time, it develops into callousness that ignores the commands of Scripture (Proverbs 14:31).
7. Remain Silent About Your Faith
I saved the toughest, and most common compromise, for last. It is not the popular stance in today’s culture to be vocal or forthright about your Christian faith. When trying to blend into the culture, many Christian business leaders describe their faith as a private matter and their businesses show no sign of their faith. They feel they will be labeled an outsider if they speak up or live out their Christian faith in the marketplace. While this behavior may help them gain access to some circles, it clearly goes against Scripture (Matthew 5:14-16).
Have you allowed any of these compromises to creep into your witness?
What course of action will you take to correct the situation?
If you have avoided these practices, how have you done it?