What Makes a Business a Kingdom Business? Ten Signs


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Is a kingdom business one in which most of the employees are believers, where there are noon hour Bible studies and prayer meetings? Maybe. But there is more to the kingdom of God than overt spiritual activities. The presence of a Christian in a business or running a business does not guarantee the business is a kingdom business. The Christians may be keeping their faith and daily work in separate compartments on the assumption that "religion and business do not mix." The following are ten marks that provide a comprehensive vision for the Christian in business and for the business as a kingdom enterprise.

1. The Presence of A Christian or Christians With a Sphere of Influence Large or Small  

The owner/manager of a small or large business has a special opportunity to "incarnate" his or her value system into every aspect of the business. But even "low level" employees can regard this as their "parish," bathing all the people, structures, equipment and interactions within that circle of influence with continuing prayer.

2. A Product or Service in Harmony With God’s Creational Purpose   

Adam and Eve were called to be priests of creation, to "work it and take care of it" as trustees and stewards (Gen 2:15). This involved developing and inculturating the world. In other words, adapting our God’s kingdom to the culture around us. By designing and delivering good products and services, we can contribute the human flourishing that God intended (Gen 4:19-22).”

3. A Mission That is Larger and Deeper Than Mere Financial Profit  

Profit in a business is like blood in the body. But no one gets up in the morning and says, "I live for my blood." But if our blood goes away we stop living. A printing company I know has these cherished values: to create relationships of integrity and vulnerability and to create beautiful images.

4. The business or Enterprise Suggests the Presence of the Kingdom and Invites the Opportunity to Witness   

Jesus invited his disciples to reflect on how much more they were doing than the Gentiles, the tax collectors and the pagans (Matt 5:43-48). Ironically many Christians in the workplace do not “get into” their work as their real interest is in evangelism and church activities. There is a story about Saint Augustine who was being criticized for buying his sandals from a non-Christian sandal-maker when there were Christian sandal-makers that needed his business. He replied, “I do too much walking to buy inferior sandals.” The kingdom company invites the question “Why?” and “How come?”

5. The Customer is Treated With Dignity and Respect and Not Merely as a Means of Profit  

My first cousin, a salesperson for a national furniture chain, said he will sell only when three conditions are met: the customer wants it, needs it and can afford it.

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6. Employees and Workers are Equipped to Achieve Greater Potential in Their Life 

A kingdom employer sees every interaction with an employee as an equipping opportunity through which the employee can be trained, encouraged, improved and released for his or her potential.

7. All Aspects of the Business are Considered to be Potentially a Ministry and the Subject of Prayer 

William Tyndale, the English Reformer, said, "There is no work better than another to please God; to pour water, to wash dishes, to be a souter [cobbler], or an apostle, all is one… as touching the deed, to please God." All work may contribute in some way to the New Jerusalem (1 Cor 3:14-15).

8. The Culture of the Organization Line Up With Kingdom Purpose 

People "get a message" as soon as they walk into a store or a factory. Culture includes outward symbols and cues (signs saying that we guarantee good service) and hidden aspects (values that are cherished even if they are not published), both being based on underlying beliefs. Both workers and customers are influenced profoundly by this invisible culture. Wise managers know that the cultivation of the culture is part of their leadership: what values are cherished, how people are treated, how people learn in the organization, how failures and mistakes are handled, and whether the truth should always be told.

9. The Leaders are Servants  

"Servant leadership" is so commonly used that it is forgotten how these two words cannot normally be brought together. Servant managers/leaders are concerned to bring the best out of their employees, to equip them, even more than they are concerned with their own advancement. The leader's effectiveness is measured by the advancement of his employees, by continuously holding up the mission purpose of the company and saying thanks to everyone.

10. The Business Runs on Grace  

Business takes the kingdom servant into the "principalities and powers"—economic, social, political structures of society, into patterns of competition and dishonest financial transactions. Christian business persons find themselves frequently in situations where there is no easy answer, no "black and white" choice to be made. There is forgiveness; there is hope. Luther once said, "sin boldly" (because you will be a sinner in business); "but believe in Christ more boldly still." 

These are ten signs that the kingdom is coming in a business, but has not fully come yet!

Dr. R. Paul Stevens

Dr. R. Paul Stevens is a craftsman with wood, words, and images and has worked as a carpenter, a student counsellor, a pastor, and a professor. He is the Professor Emeritus of Marketplace Theology and Leadership at Regent College, and the Chairman of the Institute for Marketplace Transformation.

His personal mission is to empower the whole people of God to integrate their faith and life from Monday to Sunday. Paul is married to Gail and has three married children and eight grandchildren, and lives in Vancouver, BC.

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