Mixing Jesus and Business

 wrote this 3 months ago in Freelancer News
"Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God"

John 12:42-43

This year I've gotten serious about my faith. As a business owner, it's stirred up some questions about how much I should share publicly. I've always been private about politics and other personal opinions but something about this feels different.

I've gotten so much from strengthening my relationship with God in every area of my life, including as a business owner, that I want to share.

How do you feel about mixing faith and business?

If you're against it, why? Have you asked yourself why sharing other opinions on topics like business, politics, marketing, lifestyle are fair game? Is it because the world deems those opinions acceptable and celebrates boldness in those areas? And if you can be bold about dumb things, why can't you be bold about God, something actually worth the effort?

These are the questions I've asked myself in recent weeks. Curious to hear your thoughts.

Comments

I love the question, Robert. I'm curious what sort of scenario you imagine as mixing faith and business or being bold about God? I can think of a few ways faith and business are inseparable.
  • My work is a participation in the creational mandate (Genesis 2:15). As people made in God's image, we create and tend to what we create.
  • Work provides the rhythm by which we practice sabbath rest. My family and I recently began taking a weekly rhythm of getting all of our work done by Saturday night and putting away our phones for 24 hours a week. This practice has put me deeper in touch with the concept of 'enough' and rest.
  • I view every job/client I get as a provision - how God cares for me and my family, supplying what we need (ala Matt. 6:35, Exodus 16, etc). When I feel anxious about work coming in, this is a solid reminder.
  • A friend has said something like "humiliate yourself often so you become impossible to provoke." I find that humiliating myself often (in the form of confession and transparency) has benefits in my attending to clients. I've never regretted being transparent about a skillset gap on a project or owning my mistakes - and doing everything I can to fix them. Most of the time these are refreshing traits and the client is glad for it.
I haven't ever felt the need to be bold in terms of proselytizing clients or anything like that. And I'm pretty deeply opposed to using my faith in any kind of marketing copy or anything like that (did that in-house with a religious non-profit for a decade and am over it). I have worked with a handful of religious clients and it can be fun/encouraging to connect over our shared faith. In a few instances, it probably helped me get the gig which is okay I think.

I'd say my faith has troubled business more than it helps it, though. Mostly in terms of governors on income (“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”) and client selection (there are exploitive businesses I'm unwilling to work with). Probably some messed up/ill-formed ideas around self-promotion, too, that I need to work through, but are related to my faith in an immature/insecure way.

How does that land with you? Provoke any more thoughts or questions?

P.S. A friend and designer wrote an amazing little book, Designing Hope, that sort of touches on all this as it relates specifically to design. Maybe you'd be interested (it's free and online).

Wow thanks for sharing this Jordan. I'm going to refer back to your post for some time I think. Super helpful how you outlined where faith and business are inseparable. 

I'm curious what sort of scenario you imagine as mixing faith and business or being bold about God?

Not totally sure. 😄 

When reading the John 12 section I quoted above, the image that was put in my head was this contrast between how all of these various Twitter pontificators share bold opinions on various topics ad nauseam and get celebrated for it. Meanwhile it feels like talking about your Christian faith is sorta off-limits. I'm sure there are Christians out there that are totally comfortable talking about X divisive topic publicly, while keeping their belief in Christ hidden, because I've felt that too.

That said, the farthest I've gone is including bible verses at the bottom of my email signature. I've gotten a few positive replies from that which has led to 1-on-1 conversations with Christians. I tend to agree with you that using faith as marketing or proselytizing to clients doesn't feel right.

I more so want the way I conduct business to be a bold representation about my faith and an example of the Christian principles in action. Your points are a good starting point for that I think.

Probably some messed up/ill-formed ideas around self-promotion, too, that I need to work through, but are related to my faith in an immature/insecure way.

Curious about this as there may be others struggling with it. 

What ideas do you think have hurt you?
I'll attempt to elaborate on the self-promotion piece. For me, a few concepts from Scripture and tradition trouble the idea. I'll say though that you've helpfully reframed a lot of this for me in your example, writing, and course. Basically to stop thinking I'm bothering my clients or prospects and just aim to be helpful to them.

My reading of the gospels puts value on obscurity and judiciousness. Jesus enjoys the metaphor of leaven/yeast, largely because it's such a subversive process (Matt 13:33). But in Luke 12, he warns against the Pharisees' leaven which is hypocrisy. I think this gets at your observations with Twitter. To this, he basically says be careful about what you say. Or in another way, "take the log out of your eye before taking the speck out someone else's." 

For the Christian, I think this rightfully results in less outspokenness, more introspection and healing, a preference for others, and more transparency -- all of which tends to be antithetical to the usual marketing advice. So it's tough to know how to chart a different path since there aren't a lot of people teaching along that grain.

You've been a standout example to me for years in this regard. Your podcast, emails, and medium articles have a humble and helpful vibe...Feels like the kind of stuff I can do, too. Your insistence that an attentive and earnest email has better returns than a flashy portfolio is a staple of my self-talk :).

Peace to you!

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