The best guidebook for business may very well be the most well-read book of all time: the Bible. If you own a business, the wealth of wisdom in the Bible’s pages can help you make all kinds of decisions, from recruiting and training the right people to managing your finances.
Here’s how you can run your business according to biblical principles:
1. Become a strong leader. Pray for the ability to think and act more like Jesus so you can grow into a stronger leader. Prepare yourself for your next leadership position before you’re in that position; honor the leaders and authority figures above you; admit your mistakes and do everything possible to make things right; create clear vision, values and performance expectations for your business; hold yourself and the people you work with accountable to deliver results; and focus on serving others.
2. Maximize your time. Focus most of your time on the tasks that you can do best and accomplish in the least amount of time. Identify your priorities and base your schedule on them. Don’t let trivial tasks consume too much of your attention; focus on what’s most important. Whenever you need to add something to your to-do list, take something off the list to make room for the new task. Trust God in every part of your life and tell Him that you want to use your time to fulfill His purposes for you. He will guide you to use your time well. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others who have different talents. Instead, develop and use the unique talents that God has given you.
3. Overcome pride. Pride is a particularly dangerous sin because it not only separates you from God, it also causes you to attack God by attempting to “dethrone” Him in your life and enthroning yourself as your own god. Ask God to help you cultivate humility, which will bring you both peace and success. Recognize that you’re imperfect, just as other people are, and are not superior to anyone else. Don’t always insist on having your own way just because you own the business. Seek out and be open to biblical instruction, reproof, rebuke and constructive criticism. Learn from others and accept help whenever you need it.
4. Build solid character. Never tell “white lies” or ask the people who work for you to do so. Tell the truth even when it’s difficult, expensive, unpopular or inconvenient. Follow through on your commitments, even if they become more costly or time-consuming than you’d estimated. Always do more than just enough to get a job done; put forth the extra effort necessary to do an excellent job. Don’t give false impressions, such as by omitting facts that reveal truth or offering excuses to disguise reality.
5. Develop strong people skills. Genuinely care about people. Value working with people more than doing paperwork. Learn how to be efficient with things (using them with the least waste of time and effort) but effective with people (helping them accomplish results with purpose and intention). Listen more than you speak. Ask the right questions to engage others in meaningful conversations. Don’t keep score with people; serve them to express your love for God rather than because you’re expecting something in return. Don’t judge people or try to debate them into Christianity. Instead, love them and humbly tell them how your own relationship with Jesus has changed your life for the better. Control your attitudes and emotions to make them positive rather than negative. Speak respectfully to people and well of them. Invest in your team members’ development by giving them the resources they need to be successful. Care enough to confront them when they’re off track. Pray for them regularly.
6. Create work-life balance. Build mental balance into your life by learning new information and developing new skills. Build emotional balance by constantly investing in your relationships. Build physical balance by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Build spiritual balance by celebrating disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, scripture meditation and participating in church worship services.
7. Manage your money well. Remember that all the money you and your business own comes from God. Give back generously as God leads you. Avoid unnecessary debt and pay off existing debt as soon as possible. Don’t concern yourself with the prosperity of dishonest people; keep doing what’s right yourself and trust God to judge everyone fairly. Pay your bills with gratitude for the services you received, including your taxes—and pray for those in charge of spending public funds.
8. Build strong teams. Recruit prayerfully and strategically to choose the right people. Define your business purpose, core values and performance expectations. Establish a culture that promotes accountability. Always look for ways to meet others’ needs. Develop an inner circle of people with the highest upward potential in your business and delegate work to them, encourage them, and hold them accountable for results.
9. Forgive past offenses. Maybe you’re angry with a client who stiffed you or a coworker who stole your idea and presented it as her own. Of course, you know that grudges hurt only the grudge-bearer. Imagine that a poisonous snake has bit you. What should you do first? Kill the snake or remove the venom? Many leaders choose to chase the proverbial snake to kill it, failing to realize that their actions only cause the venom to spread faster, causing a quicker death. The same holds true for those who fail to forgive. Harboring resentment always impacts your productivity and effectiveness. People can sense all that buried bitterness and, even if they’re not sure why, will hesitate to interact with you. Forgiving is not easy, but the reward is worth it. When you release those negative feelings, prosperity will flow your way.
DAVE ANDERSON is president of Learn to Lead
and has given more than 1,000 leadership
presentations in thirteen countries. He is the author
of If You Don’t Make Waves, You’ll Drown, Up
Your Business!, How to Deal with Difficult Customers
and How to Run Your Business by The Book.