Integrating faith and business: how company leaders can have it all

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BEND, Ore. – The United States has a history that involves both capitalism and religion, yet many people of faith struggle with how to reconcile their spiritual beliefs with career and financial pursuits.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with the American dream or desiring and having the good things of life,” Michael Sipe, author of the Amazon No. 1 bestseller “The AVADA Principle” and founder of the Christian executive coaching firm 10x Catalyst Groups, which provides guidance to businesses organized on a foundation of biblical principles, said. “But in our hearts, we know there is more to living a full life than the acquisition of pleasant experiences and material possessions.”

Often people are told to find a balance between work, faith and other aspects of life, but Sipe said that approach is fundamentally flawed for two main reasons: Balance is impossible to achieve and sustain, and the approach implies that people’s lives are made up of separate pieces and that they are fragmented beings.

Alternatively, Sipe contended it’s time for business owners to view life from the perspective of the integration of work, worship and service. He said this viewpoint is solidly grounded in biblical truth and is the main thrust of the message in “The AVADA Principle.”

“Business leaders have been placed in the marketplace and gifted with skills and talents in commerce, not just for the purpose of making money,” he said. “But primarily so that the Gospel message of Jesus can be spread and the commandments he gave us can be fulfilled.”

As business leaders try to accomplish that, Sipe said they need to keep a few things in mind:

Owning a business can be their ministry. 

“In my work with Christian business people, it’s common to discover they have something of a spiritual inferiority complex,” Sipe said.

He has heard them say things like, “I ought to get out of the business world so I can go do ministry or be a pastor.” If that’s God’s calling for them, Sipe said, then so be it.

“Usually, though, my business colleagues are operating on a misconception about ministry resulting from a flawed separation of secular and sacred,” he said. “There should not be any separation. Reaching, teaching and serving others as ambassadors for Christ can and should be done in the marketplace using the platform of business and employment.”

Making money is not innately immoral. 

Businesses must make money to succeed, yet often people are skeptical that faith and a profit-based enterprise can coexist. Sipe disagreed.

“Just as the world needs excellent nurses, teachers, missionaries and Peace Corps workers, we critically need excellent business leaders and entrepreneurs,” he said. “Business is the only human endeavor that makes money. Every other sphere of society is funded through the money made by the business sphere. Thus, this vocational pursuit is no less noble than that of a teacher, doctor, pastor or policeman. The crux of the issue here is who and what we worship and in holding a proper perspective about earning, making and using money.”

It is the love of money and the insatiable desire to get it – not the making of it – that is the source of all kinds of evil, Sipe said.

Declaring a business as Christian is not enough. 

People may appreciate that faith plays a role in how Chik-fil-A does business, for example, but they keep coming back because they get a great chicken sandwich.

“If the owners of a business support a cause I admire, I might be more inclined to do business with them,” Sipe said. “But I still want quality. The declared faith of the owner and fish symbols in the windows are not adequate justification for buying shoddy products and putting up with poor service.

“It’s important to have a healthy perspective on work, money and business, since this is where most of us will invest the majority of our lives,” Sipe said. “If we are embarrassed by how we make our living and feel guilty about the money we make, this perspective will contaminate our worship and our service.

“But if we hold that business is inherently good, dignified and virtuous, then we can offer it confidently in worship to God, and in service to him and our fellow man.,” Sipe said.

Michael Sipe, author of the Amazon No. 1 bestselling book “The AVADA Principle,” is the founder of 10x Catalyst Groups, www.10xgroups.com, which helps entrepreneurs grow profitable and thriving businesses organized on a foundation of biblical principles. Sipe has also enjoyed a successful 30-plus year career in mergers, acquisitions, and business development as the founder of CrossPointe Capital, a middle market investment-banking firm. In that capacity, he has consulted with and evaluated over 5,000 companies and has provided advisory services for approximately a half-billion dollars in business sales involving hundreds of companies. He remains active in transactional work and has been a key adviser in mergers and acquisitions projects covering a multitude of industry sectors.