Would you jump at a chance to get advice from someone with an incredible career in both business and Christian ministry? I got that chance!
Jim Reese – CEO, Atlanta Mission
My brother and I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours this past week with business and ministry leader, Jim Reese. I first met Mr. Reese when he was a speaker at the Catalyst conference in Atlanta this past October.
After attending his session, I sought him out and we spent a few minutes talking about the integration of faith and business. It was then that I asked for the opportunity to visit his ministry, Atlanta Mission, and get his advice on how he thought I could better use our business as a platform for Christian ministry.
Though we have been working at this for over eight years, we know there is still so much to learn! We know we have just barely scratched the surface and therefore are always on the look-out for opportunities to learn. This was clearly one of those opportunities. In fact, we came away with much more than we could have hoped.
Not only has Reese seen incredible success in the business world over a stellar career with executive positions in companies such as Randstad N.A., Frito-Lay, and HoneyBaked Ham, but he has also significantly impacted people for eternity through his work with Atlanta Mission. He has taken his exceptional business skills and is applying them in Christian ministry. His leadership is taking the Atlanta Mission organization to new heights.
I could take the rest of this post telling you how gracious and helpful Mr. Reese was in taking the time to pour into us. He clearly has a passion for what he does and is very willing to share that passion. We will not know the full impact of this short visit for many years to come, but I can tell you that it will be huge!
Below, I have listed the first of five main points I gained from our conversation. I will discuss this first one in detail today and the other four points in my next posts. This advice is directed at anyone trying to buck the norms of this world and integrate their faith into their work. If you are trying to run your business from an eternal perspective, then you need to heed this advice.
- You must redefine success.
In a publicly-owned corporation, success is most often defined as an increase in shareholder wealth (stock price). Maybe revenue growth is a close second. In private business, net profit or net cash flow probably leads as the definition of success. Growth may also take a top spot in some of these businesses as well.
Since virtually all of us have worked in a secular job for a non-Christian company at some time or another, you probably know exactly what I am talking about. I do not know the statistics here, but success in most companies is defined this way. I am not judging them (not my job to do so). I am simply pointing out the facts.
But when you step out and say that your business is God’s and you are just a steward of it for a time, then you must redefine success. The normal business metrics will not work for this purpose. Instead, you must determine what is most important to God for His business.
Of course, the best place to look for this is in the Scripture. You may need to translate what you find into various specific definitions of success for your own business based on variables such as type (manufacturing, retail, services, etc.). It may be different specific results for different businesses, according to God’s will for each, but I guarantee it will be related to the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission.
When Jesus says that all of the law and prophets hang on loving God and loving others as ourselves, then you can bet your success definition needs to be founded on this. When Jesus’ last words on earth charge us to go and make disciples of all nations, then you need to include this as well.
I will not attempt to give you a single rule of thumb for redefining success for your business from an eternal perspective. This is something that you need to determine for your business through searching the Scriptures and fervent prayer. I will tell you that I think it is solid advice to redefine success for your company.
By redefining success from an eternal perspective, you will change the way you make decisions. You will hire differently. You will invest your time, talents, and treasure differently. When you have redefined success, your motivation changes and that picture of success begins to permeate your thoughts, actions, and words. Success redefined is a powerful force!
What is your definition of success in business at this point?
How have you prayed about this?
What do you feel God is leading you to do?