From the Preacher’s Pen…
Far too often we as Christians confuse what is best and right in the world with what is best and right in the Lord’s church. Many congregations have chosen elders, not for their Scriptural qualifications, but rather, for their earthly business qualifications. That is wrong before God and deadly to Christ’s Kingdom. James addresses that very false and foolish theory when he reminds us that showing favoritism just because of wealth or business success is a sin (cf. James 2:1-9).
The real fact is that God’s standards are perfect for His church and are much better for life in general! Consider for a moment:
Good Business vs Christ’s Kingdom
Mark Twain once commented: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” His point, of course, is that so much of what people think that they know is not only wrong but dangerous.
A lot of the world’s business clichés are wrong for business and even worse for Christians. And yet those same teachings are happily propagated by both groups without intelligent thought.
Here are three business sayings that are actually deadly for businesses and yet are often cited in much the same way by Christians. They were never true for anyone and they always bring more harm than good.
Old saying #1: Failure is not an option. Meaning: We absolutely, positively must succeed.
Guess what: No matter how many times you repeat this saying, failure always remains an option. Closing your eyes to this fact makes you more likely to fail.
One business management consultant suggested that businesses should find all the employees who never make mistakes and fire them because employees who never make mistakes never do anything. Admitting that mistakes happen and dealing constructively with them when they do make mistakes less likely.
Paul was once mistaken about the usefulness of John Mark in ministry. But Paul overcame that to appreciate his brother in Christ (read Acts 13:13; 15:36-39 and 2 Timothy 4:11). Failure is NOT the end but merely the beginning of new opportunities!
Many things we may try for outreach will fail. That is simply a sign to try another approach. Closing your eyes to failure means closing your eyes to opportunities.
New saying: Failure happens. Deal with it God’s way!
Old saying #2: The customer is always right. Meaning: We satisfy our customers’ every need.
Wrong! In businesses this often means loyal, hardworking employees are scorned in favor of unreasonable customers. Yes, there may be times when loyal employees are wrong but consistently favoring the unreasonable, ignorant outsider is a loss all around.
Churches frequently chase what is popular with the world and shun their God. People have actually left the Lord’s church because we won’t put them ahead of God in importance. That’s sad that they leave but they are still wrong and will have to answer to God for their disobedience.
New saying: God’s way is always right. Our job is to obey Him.
Old saying #3: Grow or die. Meaning: A business is either growing or dying. A business can’t be successful if it’s not growing.
It’s interesting to see how growth has been elevated to an automatic good. We often imagine the New Testament church as being hundreds of people in each congregation. While that may have been true for some congregations at some times, it was never the norm. Of the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3, the smallest was the most faithful and therefore received the most praise from God.
Preaching the Gospel is our priority. We are not responsible for the growth but for the planting. Growth in numbers is always nice but our goal of spiritual growth will always produce the best results.
Even in the business world there in no correlation between growth and ultimate success. In recent years we have seen countless businesses that grew until they died. Growth for the sake of growth is never a good thing.
Take a look at the “mega-church” movement. How long do any of them actually last? Jerusalem and Ephesus might have been the closest to that status in New Testament times. By the end of the first century, Jerusalem was no more and Ephesus was becoming a leader in false teaching. If we are to grow, let us grow God’s way!
New saying: Let God take care of growth. Take care of our jobs, our responsibilities to God, and let Him take care of His part.
The scary thing about these and many other sayings is that they’re often accepted unquestioningly because they come in the shape of old mottoes which are repeated much like nursery rhymes used to educate children. That means it’s not enough to oust the old sayings, we need to replace them with new ones that are grounded in God’s word.
Any time you think that you can improve on God’s will and God’s way, you need to stop and realize that you are NOT God. Rather than let the world dictate how best to run the Lord’s church, let’s try letting God tell us how to best run our lives and our world.
— Lester P. Bagley