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After the Faith Decision
Here are some insights into what it means to become managers in God's kingdom.

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God spoke more about money and possessions in the Bible than He did about heaven and hell combined — over 2350 times. Did you know that 16 of the 38 parables recorded in the Bible deal with money and possessions? And did you know that all of these instances were in the context of talking about the Kingdom?

But our journey will explore so much more than money and possessions, because stewardship is about so much more than that. In seeking to serve God’s Kingdom, we become His servants. From the moment we answered His call to a life of service in His Kingdom, we began a journey of stewardship. We have become managers in the Kingdom.

If we look at Jesus’ ministry here on earth we see that He spent most of His time in the marketplace, as do we. Of His 132 appearances in the New Testament, over 120 of them are in the marketplace and almost all of His parables were built around marketplace examples.

Over the years I believe that I have grown in my understanding of what God expects of me as a business leader and some of that clearly has to do with decisions in financial matters. But God has also shown me much more in the area of personal integrity and managing and leading people.

Sometimes as hard-driving Type A leaders we feel a need to be right more than the need to do the right thing. We mistakenly think we will be respected if we are right all the time — or at least perceived that we are right. I cannot claim to have been perfect in this area, but I sure did try, as God convicted me, and I believe I grew in my understanding and application. Allow me to share a couple of stories to illustrate.

It had always been my practice to try to pay our invoices as soon as they were received. I felt that if I had received the product or service in good order, then the supplier should be paid promptly.

Before I hired a chartered accountant as my controller, one day each week our payroll clerk would pay all the invoices for the week. Shortly after hiring this new accountant I received a call from a good supplier asking if we were having cash flow problems. The answer was no, and when I asked him the basis for his question, he informed me that recently we hadn’t been paying our bills in the same timely manner to which he had become accustomed.

My new controller explained that he was simply following standard accounting principles of paying in 30 days and explained that if we wanted we could push it out to 60 or 90 days without incident. I let him know our company policy and the belief it was founded upon. From that point forward he used our standard accounting practices over the industry standards, choosing one day per week to pay all invoices received that week (see Matthew 7:12).

The area of people management and servant leadership was something I had to grow into and regularly seek God’s help and direction on. One of the lessons God taught me was that employees’ personal problems did not stop at the front door of our office. Over the years, I had been ready to terminate employees based on things like consistent lateness, lack of work ethic (sometimes perceived, sometimes real) and many other very appropriate and justifiable reasons.

Some of these people were Christians who I felt should be producing better and modeling good employee behaviour. I thank God that I had leaders who were close enough to the people and cared enough to be able to uncover some very ugly realities — some of these employees were dealing with very serious life issues such as spousal illnesses, spousal abuse, and children on drugs and in trouble with the authorities. Instead of terminating, we were able to take action that resulted in some very changed lives and circumstances — marriages healed, families given a second chance at wholeness and many other situations.

I believe God is honoured when we act out of love and care instead of expediency and economic interests. And the interesting thing is that the short term cost and pain to come alongside these people and really lend a helping hand was more than compensated by the goodwill created and by employees who became very engaged in our success — those who benefited from our actions and those watching from a distance.

Another thing I learned was that by investing in our people, we invested in the business. For years I tried to get an employee suggestion program going with very limited success. Then we implemented the ‘Killing the Sacred Cow’ program. Without going into details, let me say this employee suggestion program was wildly successful, in part because it was innovative and fun, but primarily because the program itself was created and executed by the employees, including the measuring and judging of the submissions.

And we never ran out of suggestions; as a matter of fact, the list kept growing and the calibre of recommendations was extraordinary. I believe this is what it means to empower your employees. Give them the authority and resources to impact their everyday work lives and they will do more than you could ever imagine and we will all win!

I began to understand the awesome responsibility and incredible opportunity that leaders have to influence and impact people’s lives by our actions and our care. I believe God was teaching me about relationship stewardship.

I believe that after the faith decision, all else is stewardship. I cannot take credit for that statement and I don’t know who rightly should be credited, but it certainly is a powerful statement. And if it is true, then stewardship is about more than money – much more.

Lorne Jackson is President of Canadian National Christian Foundation. If you would like information about anything in this article or to speak to Lorne directly, contact him at info@cncf.ca. His recently published book, After the Faith Decision, All Else Is Stewardship is available at www.cncf.ca

Originally published in the Christian Advisor, Spring 2008.

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