Leadership, Calling and Accountability: Why Christian Business Owners Must View Their Work of Accountability as God’s Call on Their Lives

I’m reading through Judges right now in my devotional times each morning. I’m usually up between 5:00 – 5:30 AM and spend a good 60-90 minutes reading the Bible, praying, confessing sin and discerning God’s direction for the day. I often pray through my schedule for the day and take time to listen to God. Hearing God’s voice is a tremendous blessing, but one that doesn’t come to those who are fickle in their holiness or love for God.

“In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit”. That phrase first appears in Chapter 17 and is also the last words of the book. In all, I find this phrase appears four times. It is during this time that we can read about the horrific abuse of women, the mixing of idolatry with worshipping God and general unrest as people form groups who betray others and then in turn splinter their own groups to betray again and again. How does this apply to Christian business ownership? I would submit several lessons can be learned from reading Chapter 17 through the end of the book of Judges.

Chaos is always the result when there is a void of leadership

It is important to understand that one of the core elements of leadership is to setup boundaries in which people can operate. We know from child psychology that children who are properly disciplined and loved have a sense of peace and safety. We know that civilizations must have the rule of law in order to provide the context in which people can take risks in business and life. The law, properly enforced and without prejudice, is essential for any organization or business to run effectively. That law must be communicated, understood and enforced, or we’ll have what we read about in these latter chapters in Judges.

When it comes to business ownership, it is the owner’s responsibility to create and enforce the law. As the business grows, the creation of the laws (more commonly known as policies and process and procedures) becomes the responsibility of the leadership team. For those who are Christian business owners, two elements are added to this mix: humility before the Lord and love for your employees. Publically held companies answer to their shareholders. But privately held businesses answer to the ownership group – whether an individual or a partnership. But in the case of the latter, where the ownership is also working “in” and “on” the business, there develops unique relationships that contain multiple roles. In order to avoid chaos in the business where everyone does what is right in their own eyes, the owner *must* step in and enforce the policies, processes and procedures. Who holds the owner accountable? I would submit this is where the owner voluntarily submits to an Advisory Board as well as voluntarily having an annual 360 review of his or her performance and person.

Abuse of people will occur within the context of chaos

This is a pregnant, troubling result when laws are not present or are not properly enforced. People will be abused. We read in Chapter 19 of the horrific story of the men saving themselves at the personal expense of a young girl who was gang raped and left for dead by the men of the town. This is the result of having no law. Left to our own devices, without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, we will gravitate toward evil – every time. This girl paid the price with her own life for the lack of leadership of the Levite and more generally, the lack of leadership in the country.

When it comes to business, you’ll find that relationships will be abused between managers and employees if the managers are not held accountable to conduct themselves properly. I’ve had employees come to me and cry in my office over the anger and rage they have experienced from their own manager. I’ve seen managers insult and demean employees and not understand how their words and actions have affected their direct reports. I can’t report that I’ve handled myself well in some of these situations. But like it or not, this is the role of a business owner – to confront and hold accountable those who act outside the boundaries of propriety.

Purpose and Cohesion will be fluid

In order to have a coherent set of laws, one must first have a purpose and vision for the organization. This is true of businesses as well as countries. In business, policies (governance), process and procedures are intended to achieve a set of results – both financial and non-financial – that will fulfill the purpose of the organization. When there is a lack of enforcement of these three elements (PPP), then the purpose and vision of the organization will not be fulfilled. Christian business owners have a unique stewardship responsibility to the Lord to ensure His purposes for the business that they steward are fulfilled. When the owner lacks the intestinal fortitude to enforce PPP, then the organization flounders and the result is that the organization’s purpose is not fulfilled.

In addition, without law, cohesion among the staff – sometimes thought of as unity – will be fluid. Instead of rallying around the core purpose of the organization, people will stake out their own territories and create little kingdoms that they rule. Negotiations between these kingdoms may be difficult at times and since loyalty to the kingdom is preferred against loyalty to the organization, the organization’s best interests will be sacrificed if those purposes are at odds with the personal interests of those in the kingdom. Enforcement of PPP is essential to the development of teams that don’t develop into kingdoms.

God’s Call on Your Life

If you’re a Christian and you own a business, then you are called to be a leader and an enforcer. If you have a strong need to be liked, then get over it. Because in leadership, there will be times when people don’t like you. What’s more important is that they respect you and are willing to follow you into battle. Lovingly enforce your culture, your policies, processes and procedures. But do enforce them. And understand that people will not like having rules enforced on them.

The purpose of business is to produce wealth for the kingdom of God, to provide purpose through meaningful work, to imitate God’s creativity through innovation and to reflect the unity and diversity that exists within the Trinity and creation by having unity of purpose and vision in your business while recognizing diversity of talents, passions and interests in your employees. The fulfillment of these purposes in your business requires that you – as a Christian Business Owner – provide leadership to your business, ensure accountability for every person in your organization and that you take this work as seriously as if God had called you to fill the role of a pastor in a church.

May God bless you and your business on the day that you read this.

Bill English, CEO