Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Faith And/In Business

I may have misled or confused many of my old friends.  I may have somehow allowed some to think I’ve left my faith in order to focus more on business.  I wrote my first blog on July 17, 2007.  Between July of 2007 and today there is a noticeable difference in my content.  If one were to take the time to read every post chronologically the maturation of a man would be seen.  The content has changed most recently and my focus has been less on faith and more on business.  The noticeable change in subject matter has caused some to question my faith, which is interesting to say the least.  I decided to not pigeon whole myself into only writing about faith because then my network would be filled with only those interested in reading about faith.  I did this intentionally because I am more than my faith.  Actually I am my faith, but it expresses itself in many more valuable ways than only theological discussions or religious prescriptions.  It all started innocently enough but through maturation I’ve learned that my earliest writings were full of you ought tos and things should be this way.  I really thought I knew the answers and what was best for humanity in specific areas.  The problem was my micro-level arrogance.  What I mean by that is faith covers a large area and for the most part is broad in nature.  It doesn’t touch specific issues like political affiliation, how to deal with being pregnant after a rape, or any other hot topic in a modern society.  Most faith is ancient and originated in cultures much different than ours, cultures we really can’t imagine.  This reality drove me to Bible College.  I wanted to learn more about this ancient faith I said I believed in and held to so zealously.  My favorite aspect of my time at a Bible College can be summed up in one word, context.  I absolutely loved, and still do, studying the history of the text we were studying.  Who wrote it, who was the audience, where was the author when they wrote or spoke this, was it intended for a person or persons, etc.  These questions are essential in reading ancient texts.  The danger is applying principles intended for someone else directly to yourself and I quickly found myself in this boat and unfortunately have said and written many things I’d now never write or say.  Some saw this zeal as an asset and strength while others saw it as a downfall and flaw.  The nuclear separation on sides and opinions is dramatic because we are all too busy seeking agreement and conformity.  Faith has become such a hot button that I’ve stayed away from covering it at all.

My natural strengths and intuitive habits align me to best fit within the marketing area therefore I completely submerged myself in this arena.  I’ve surrounded myself with books, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, local business associations, and anything else that would connect me more into the marketing world. In doing so, I’ve focused solely on writing about that and my journey to wherever I am headed.  I’ve applied the very same principle of pigeon holing myself into one area of subject matter again.  My blog has evolved and changed so much that some would claim that my faith is not clear or that I am nebulous and elusive when it comes to really knowing my faith.  I challenge this opinion and actually challenge my own thought process of creating a dichotomy of faith and business. 

I’m not implying in any way that we should all adopt Tim Tebow’s outspokenness on faith issues.  (Insert disclaimer, I don’t really care one way or another for Tebow personally because I don’t know him, I think he is a good player nonetheless)  I personally think faith is deeply intimate and personal and is best and most appropriatley shared with deep relationships, unless out rightly questioned.  If someone inquires to my faith or asks me specific questions I am not saying I should not answer, I am saying basically keep it to yourself unless you have the relationship to support such deep talks or are being asked directly.  That’s to address one end of the prism, but I’m interested in addressing the other position as well.  This position holds that one can successfully and should separate their faith from their business.  This is an unhealthy and impossible separation.  One’s faith is a personal belief in something.  This effects and changes a person at their very core.  The metaphor used mostly has to do with agriculture.  Trees produce fruit depending on the type of tree they are.  Apple trees produce apples, etc.  You’re not going to get a pear off an apple tree.  That’s simple, yet people forget that very same logic when considering professionalism.  I think the major flaw in the professional world is that we hire people as if they are machines.  We assume there is some internal switch our employees can turn on or off when they hit the office concerning their faith.  This basic, unspoken, belief has us focus on things that are truly not the importance of how a business successfully operates.  Success can be seen in revenue brought in or how effective a business operates within.  This success is driven by what?  Success is driven by people.  Business is all about people at it’s very core.  Someone sees a need and knows they can fill it, they charge money for that.  It’s still about meeting people’s needs/desires at some level.  We fill our walls with people but treat and interact as machines.  In interviews no one asks how you treat people or view authority or how you have matured over the past several years, they ask how you can put a square block in a square hole.  Most interviews don’t ask anything more of someone than answering the questions correctly.  I recently met with a person who was actually interested in hearing about my experience with starting a church, what I learned, how I’ve grown, etc.  They were interested in me, as a person, my faith, what makes me tick.  This challenged my thinking that faith and business do not dance together well because honestly I cannot be me without it.  Employers hire people who have faith and that faith dictates how they live.  I’m not talking about someone’s faith that they verbalize, but one they actually believe based on their actions.  Faith is deductive and one’s faith is about how one acts and can be traced back from there, not the other way around. 
What I am saying here is that it is important that a person not attempt to separate their faith from their work because doing so makes them a machine.  Employers should be interested in the person that will do the functions of the proposed job, not just how they can and will perform.  Performance can be addressed and changed; a person at their core is much harder and less likely.  

There is no separating a person’s faith from their business because how they do business is a direct reflection of what they are all about, so why not learn about what drives a person?  Do you find yourself making this costly separation often?

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