Business Stewardship

I have just started a new business. The name and Logo is below:

Epitropos is the Greek word for stewardship. The foundational concept for my business originates in scripture:

“Moreover it is required in stewards that
one be found faithful” 1 Corinthians 4:2

I have just started a new business.The name of my business is Epitropos, which is the Greek word for stewardship. The foundational concept for my business originates in scripture:

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” 1 Corinthians 4:2

The Slogan: Building Sustainable Business with Heart, Trust, and Leadership

The question you might ask, how does stewardship play a role in the modern business world? I think the concept of stewardship is critical for a successful business. Often in this blog I have mentioned the fact that operational efficiency is critical for business success, this is what stewardship is all about. Let me explain.

One of the financial statements business leaders monitor is the Cash Flow statement. It has three sections: Operating Activities, Investing Activities, and Financing Activities. All three sections represent how the cash has evolved from the start of the year until the end of the year. Let me demonstrate.

Let’s say a company states that it had zero net cash for the year as a result of its operations. The company can improve its cash deficiency by selling assets. This would be reflected as a positive cash result in the Investing section of the statement. Therefore, even if operations had zero cash flow for the year, the company could show a positive cash flow simply by selling assets (Investing), or even by selling stock, which would be reflected in the financing section of the statement. Even though what the business did to make money didn’t make any it could show it had a positive cash flow by other activities.

This is not necessarily bad if it is one year, but if the management team does this year after year, then there is a problem. A management team needs to run the business well, which can only be done with a healthy operational strategy. This is where stewardship plays a role.

As a business leader your goal is to sustain the business over time. A healthy business is maintained through good practices. This is the same as living a healthy life style. It involves making positive life choices. Good stewards make positive business choices, thus keeping the business healthy.

What do I mean stewardship? I think if we explore the four pillars of stewardship, I think we will understand. The four pillars are:
1. A healthy perspective on ownership of the business
a. Good business owners/managers don’t see their business as just their own. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in private property, but ownership involves not what the business can do for me, but what can it do for everyone impacted by it? This is related to stakeholder theory.
2. Being responsible:
This means that, as a business owner/manager I will be faithful in practicing my craft. I will:
a. Pay my employees a fair wage and on time
b. Pay my bills promptly
c. Practice transparency in business
d. Practice a triple bottom-line: People, Planet, Profit
e. Provide a safe work environment
f. Provide appropriate work training
3. Holding yourself accountable
a. I will be a business owner of integrity and honest business praxis
4. Operate for a larger reward.
a. I see coins, profit, as having two sides. There is an economic side and a social impact side. I must create profit, but then I use that profit to promote good for myself and those around me.

I want to help business leaders learn how to practice stewardship. That will be my job for the next thirteen years.

And that is my thought for the day!

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Pastors And Favorite Leadership Books

Last week I played golf with two Pastors and an elder from my church. It was a wonderful day of dagnabits, shoots, and darns. The Pastors and Elder, and me for that matter, did not use any swear words like many of my golf partners will do. For my now Pastor/Elder golf partners swearing is almost a part of their swing. However, one conversation of the day has stayed with me. Our lead Pastor mentioned taking ten leadership books and reading them over a period of time and then discussing them. This excited me, but it also got me to thinking, what leadership books do I have on my shelf, and which are my favorites. So here you go, my non-ranked list of top ten leadership books with a short description.

1. Authentic Leadership – Bill George
By far my favorite book on leadership. Bill George “makes the case that we need new leaders, not just new laws, to bring us out of the current corporate crisis. I think the lessons that George discusses in this book can apply to our current political situation.

2. The Heart Led Leader – Tommy Spaulding
Spaulding says this in his introduction, “The journey to heart-led leadership covers only 18 inches, but it lasts a lifetime. The author takes you on a journey to discover how to lead with your heart. Interesting read and fits my leadership philosophy well.

3. Lead Like Jesus – Ken Blanchard
Blanchard is one of my favorite writers. I have read several of his books. This one describes the difference between a self-serving leader and a servant leader. The book is well written and enjoyable to read.

4. Servant Leadership Across Cultures -Fons Trompenaars and Ed Voerman
The rest of the title of this book is “Harnessing the strength of the world’s most powerful leadership philosophy.” In this book I learned how to lead in cross-cultural settings using the powerful tool of service. “There is no us and them” when you are a servant leader; it is the development of shared goals.

5. Leaders on Leadership – George Barna
This particular book was written in 1982. It claims that is provides “wisdom, advice, and encouragement on the art of leading God’s people.” I was a pastor when I read this book, and I now think that it crosses over nicely for non-church organizations. Contributors include important church leaders of the day, Jack Hayford, Leighton Ford, and HB London.

6. What Makes a Leader – Harvard Business Review
I have decided I like compilation books. This is one of those. This book includes various articles from the Harvard Business Review. The authors are Daniel Goleman, Michael Maccoby, Dan Ciampa. John Peterman, Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones. The article discussing Narcissistic Leaders is a classic. Might be worth a read given today’s political environment.

7. Leadership James MacGregor Burns
James MacGregor Burns wrote this classic in 1978. In this book he develops the concepts of transformational and transactional leadership. This book is recognized as being foundational to current leadership theory. When I did research for my doctoral dissertation I ran across this book. It can be boring, but it was pivotal for my understanding of leadership.

8. Leadership – Peter Northouse
One of my favorite books is “Leadership: Theory and Practice” by Peter Northouse. It is a book that provides just what its title states. It helps the reader reflect on theory, but also provides practical tools for doing leadership. It provides a classic definition of leadership, and then explores the theoretical development of the concept through history. It also provides questionnaires for the reader to understand their own leadership skills and how to apply them to organizational settings.

9. On Becoming a Leader- Warren Bennis
A few years ago, I did an internet search looking for the best leadership book. This book emerged as one of the top results. “On Becoming a Leader” was written in 1989, so it is dated. However, its concepts are timeless. Chapters deal with knowing yourself, knowing the world, moving through chaos, getting people on your side, and forging the future all set up the current/future leader for success. It really does help you understand the importance of authenticity in leadership.

10. Leader to Leader – The Drucker Foundation
According to the editors of this book, Francis Hesselbein and Paul cohen, this book will provide “enduring insights on leadership.” I read this several years ago, and I would agree with this claim. There are several chapters written by Peter Drucker, while other contributors include: Herb Kelleher, Max De Pree, James Kouzes, Peter Senge, John Kotter, Margaret Wheatly, Ann Winbald, Charlotte Beers, Warren Bennis, and many more. The book is organized into sections dealing with subjects such as, strategy, high performance, building great teams, and change management. It is comprehensive and informative.

As I look at these books today I think about how much I learned when I read them. Then I thought about what new lessons I will learn in the future, and what leadership books will I run across. Also, what will I do with this future knowledge? Also, most the books I have referenced in the above list are fairly static, and not a lot of diverse thinking. I need to look for other writers from different backgrounds and cultures to explore new ways of describing leadership. The organizations of today demand a diverse viewpoint.

And that is my thought for the day!

Boundaries Against Weapons Of Human Destruction

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It always elicits a plethora of feelings, some that are self-condemning, while others involve pride. Generically, Father’s Day has always been a little different than Mother’s Day. I think that Mother’s, generally speaking, deserve the adulation a bit more than Father’s. However, that may be just my experience. These ponderings has led to this posting.

I am a firm believer in the importance of humanity in business. I believe that business has the power to create positive social change, and the organization is the place where humanity can be expressed in meaningful ways. In other words, there are boundaries that control how we interact with each other. Social Media has no such boundaries, which leads to dysfunctional events. The reason I am thinking about this is threefold: the visit of Bishop Curry to Vancouver, WA, Jonathan Haidt’s organization Heterodox Academy, and the weaponization of children at the border. I know this is a bit removed from the purpose of this blog, but I think the discussion is important.

The Columbian, our local newspaper, reported that Bishop Curry, the person who presided over the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, was in Vancouver preaching at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The heading of the article was “Bishop Curry: Love is the Cure.” A quote they attribute to Curry was, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God. Period.” As I read that article I was troubled. The uneasiness I was feeling was also a result of a conversation I had yesterday about the children being removed from their parents at the border, which I think is completely wrong. What is it that troubles me about these events?

As I was reading my Bible this morning 2 Corinthians chapter 4 helped clarify why I was troubled. The last verse of chapter four states, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The newspaper was not giving the whole story when it reported on Curry. I was not at the meeting, but having watched his sermon at the wedding, I can assume that he does not separate this love from the person of Jesus Christ. Love of neighbor is critical, but I am not loving just for love’s sake, I am loving because Christ’s love compels me to do this very thing. Sometimes I worry about the youth of the church because it seems like they are separating this love from Jesus and attaching it to a political movement. However, who am I to judge their motives?

The second part of my ruminations this morning was a result of learning about the Heterodox Academy. In the article “A Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education,” Emily Esfahani Smith describes how Jonathan Haidt, who wrote “The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion,” feels that “current collegians are more apt to be threatened by words and ideas. . . These students, many of whose parents protected them from the ordinary adversities of daily life, [are] psychologically fragile and unprepared for the challenges of a college education.” This has led to “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” and “speech codes” on campuses around the United States. Smith describes this using a Crimson poll which stated, “The censorious climate of higher education has predictably created a culture of self-censorship. Two-thirds of this year’s graduating seniors at Harvard said, ‘they had at some point chosen not to express an opinion in an academic setting during their time at Harvard out of fear that it would offend others.”

As a result of this unhealthy environment, the Heterodox Academy was created. It is “an organization founded in 2015 to promote viewpoint diversity on campus.” Its members include 2,000 professors and graduate students in the United States and around the world. They are in favor of free speech and inquiry. They believe “that the purpose of a university is to teach students how to think, which entails disturbing their psychological equilibrium from time to time by exposing them to ideas that contradict their current beliefs.”

I think this is why I am concerned for our country right now. There is a move to demonize the other. If you don’t agree with the current understanding of reality and culture, then you are a hater, homophobic, or some other horrendous thing. In this type of environment an “exchange of ideas” becomes impossible. This is my concern for our country.

This leads me to my last point, the weaponization of various events in our society, specifically the children at the border. Laura Bush wrote about this today. She stated, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.” There is no doubt that our immigration system is broken. It is time to fix it. She argued, “I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.” I agree!

I will not argue for American exceptionalism, and I will not argue that America is a God chosen country, and I will not argue that we have always chosen the higher path. But I agree with Bush when she states, “Americans pride themselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

I do think that part of the problem is identity politics, “the tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc. to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.” If we don’t change our mentality we will continue to hate the other. As Ms. Smith ably ends her article with, “there’s a more fundamental shift that needs to take place – a rethinking of identity politics. ‘Rather than promoting a common-enemy identity politics that admonishes white people and others with privilege,’ Mr Haidt said Friday, ‘professors and administrators should embrace a common humanity identity politics.”

I think this “common-enemy identity politics” is what occurs in the workspace. All of us have boundaries that keep us from hating out loud. It is my opinion that Bishop Curry was trying to take us back to the social boundaries once created by our Judeo-Christian moral foundations, not its imperfections, but its boundaries. Although organizations wouldn’t describe their boundaries in this way, it is similar. There needs to be external rules for us to operate well, it is time to reclaim them.

What are weapons of human destruction? They are those elements of our interaction used to demonize the other, while looking past them. It is time to see one another, listen, and thrive. Can we do it? That is a subject for another posting.

And that is my thought for the day!

Business A Power For Good

If you have spent any time reading my blog, you know that I love to read. Earlier this week I wrote about Ronald Reagan, as a result of reading a book about Reagan. Somebody asked me yesterday if I liked Reagan? It was a political question, one that I answered thoughtfully. When I was younger, and Reagan was Governor of California, I did not care for him. In fact, I chose not to pay my state income taxes to resist. Later, I paid those taxes and the subsequent penalties, declaring “boy I showed him.” Today I reflect back on just how naïve I was.
I told the person, asking me the question about Reagan, that I did not like his closure of mental hospitals because it put many people on the streets that really needed help, but I also said I appreciated his leadership in a time when our country needed leadership. He was able to get two sides to work together for the good of the people. Something that our current President is struggling with, and the previous one was not able to do.

Enough of Reagan, today I’d like to write about the power of business. On May 14th Seattle levied a tax against businesses, with $20 million or more in annual revenue, of $275 per employee to help deal with the city’s homeless problem. According to the WSJ, “It was projected to raise about $47 million a year, to be spent on affordable housing and homeless services.” Originally the tax was going to be $500 per employee, but Starbucks and Amazon pushed back, resulting in the $275 compromise. Yesterday, the city council in Seattle voted to repeal the tax. This demonstrated how business can be a force to change things.

I know the homeless situation is dire, but I have talked to people who are working with homeless people, and they often tell me the state, in this case a city council, does not want to do the right thing. The state usually wants to take money and throw it at the problem and not look at the systemic elements of the problem. The state typically looks at short term wins for political gains.

The young in Seattle, and in Portland for that matter, think business is an enemy. Often business leaders see Millennials as the problem. Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, once said, “In 2016 I saw Bernie Sanders and the kids around him. I thought: This is the antichrist.” I think that both sides should take an enlightened look at just what business can do.

In the editorial where I read that quote, Peggy Noonan stated, “An occasional preoccupation in this space is that young people have no particular affection for capitalism, the economic system that made America a great thing in history and a magnet for the world.” She then went on to describe two reasons for this lack of fondness, the 2008 crash of the market and the levels of inequality in our country, and they’ve never heard capitalism defended. The reason for this is the educational system in our country leans left even more than the leaning tower of Pisa.

I have taught in the academic environment, and I saw young people who wanted to do good things, rightfully so, but they wanted to start non-profit organizations or do social work. Don’t get me wrong those things are good, but how do you pay for them? There has to be surplus value, profit, left over. It is when the economy is healthy that people are able to provide the resources needed to help others. The combination between wealth generation and a right-sized tax system would provide strong social systems to help people who are hurt by the evolving economic system.

Many of the young today look to socialism as the answer. Even some of my colleagues think socialism is the answer. However, as Paul Kengor stated in his May 4th editorial, “May 5th marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx, who set the stage with his philosophy for the greatest ideological massacres in history.” His ideas have, and continue, to kill millions of people throughout the world. The foundation of his ideology is the elimination of private property. The freedom of owning your own private property is the foundation of capitalism. Kengor states, “In the Communist Manifesto, he and Fredrich Engels were quite clear that the theory of Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.”

Young people today may not understand the implication of this and its impact on freedom. If that is not enough to convince you of the issues with socialism/communism, then how about Marx’ s ten-point program: 1) abolition of private property, 2) a heavy progressive income tax, 3) abolition of the right of inheritance, 4) confiscation of all property of all emigrants and rebels, 5) centralization of credit in the hands of the state, 6) centralization of the means of communication in the hands of the state, 7) all production of goods will be a part of a common plan, 8) Equal liability of label and creation of agricultural armies, 9) gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country, 10) Free education for all children in public schools. Everything is controlled by the state with a complete elimination of individual freedom. And for those who say, we are not talking about communism but socialism, remember Marx always argued that socialism was part one and full-blown communism the ultimate goal.

I am not a proponent of McCarthyism, looking for communists under every rock, but I do think that we need to pay attention. Especially those who have more resources than others. The non-idiot billionaire, Ken Langone, “worries about the future of economic freedom and sees the selfishness of some of the successful as an impediment.” He argued there are some who are greedy and evil, and he rightfully argued don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So, what is the point with all of this? I think that Democracy and economic freedom work well together. However, our economic system works best when those who have resources share with those who don’t. What I mean is, instead of relying on government to help people develop the work skills needed to provide for their families in an evolving world, wealthy people should create systems to help people develop needed work skills and the opportunities to exercise those skills. Like Langone states, “Home Depot has changed lives. We have 400,000 people who work there, and we’ve never once paid anyone minimum wage.”

I know it is not business’s core mission to create social change, but it does have the power to do that very thing. We have seen this power throughout the world. Through globalization a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. This could be the start. But it will take forward thinking business people like Ken Langone to accomplish this.

And that is my thought for the day!

Reagan, Trolling, and the Future

I am now retired and hopefully will find more time to write. In order to re-energize my desire to write I am going to just jump right in and start writing. The theme of my blog has not changed, it is still focused on doing business while recognizing the importance of people. However, there now will be elements of stewardship and servant leadership permeating my thoughts. The emphasis of my life will be in those areas, helping me continue developing my thoughts on Social Entrepreneurship and Business As Mission. So, enough preamble, it is now time to begin discussing my topic for this week.

Way back in May, Roger Kimball wrote an editorial describing when Reagan met Lenin. Obviously, this was hyperbolic, but through this description Kimball was able to make an excellent point. The event the writer was describing occurred on May 31st, 1988. Reagan was in the Soviet capital meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, the fourth in a series of meetings used to “work out arms-control agreements.” Eventually this work would lead to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. However, the criticality of this editorial was not in this series of meetings, but in the ultimate goal Reagan was pursuing.

Bret Baier traces the development of Ronald Reagan’s relationship with Russia from his “evil empire” picture to his ultimate work of diplomacy. Kimball adds to Baier’s description of Reagan’s evolution, “In 1977, noting to a friend that ‘a lot of complex things are very simple if you think them through,’ Reagan crisply summed up his theory on the cold war: ‘We win, they lose.'” However, this victory must be recognized, not as one country over another, but of freedom over totalitarianism. This is symbolically illustrated by the picture of Reagan addressing Moscow State University standing in front of a “gigantic scowling bust of Lenin and a mural of the Russian revolution.” As an actor, Reagan knew the power if visual representation.

Reagan would bring these objects into his speech, “Standing here before a mural of your revolution, I want to talk about a very different revolution, a technological and informational revolution that is transforming the world. How much progress had already been realized! But progress is not foreordained. The key, is freedom – freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.” Although these words were given to illustrate a very different situation, I think we can apply them to today.

In the world of social media there is so much promise. Events are announced, ideas are shared, and past connections renewed. However, the world of social media is filled with trolling and others attempting to shout down the other.

Trolling involves “the process of making deliberately offensive or provocative online posts with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.” On the other side we have the process of attacking or shaming someone who has a different opinion than we do.

Freedom is a very difficult thing to maintain. I think those of us who were born in the United States often take this for granted. It might be good to remember the words of Reagan once again. Reagan’s understood what freedom and democracy is and described this as “less a system of government, than a system to keep government limited, unintrusive: a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.” I would also like to add to this friendship with the people around us.

Many people have written about the messiness of freedom and democracy and the difficulty of keeping them in place. Nelson Mandela is quoted as stating, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” In 1787 someone asked Benjamin Franklin, “well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” Benjamin Franklin’s response is well known, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” His words are just as true today.

We live in very confusing times. I hope we don’t let the trolls of social media kill what was created on 1776. Instead of yelling at each other, let’s learn from each other and maintain the Republic for our children and grandchildren.

And that is my thought for the day!

Business As Mission, Poverty, and Epistrepho!

Even though this work week was a short one, I experienced many different events that continues to demonstrate to me that I am moving in the right direction. I made mistakes, had some victories, but all-in-all I learned several life lessons. I was telling someone the other day my story. In 1977 I had a very clear call to move to the Pacific Northwest. In 2008, I had a very clear call to retire from the Boeing Company and begin teaching fulltime at Warner Pacific. However, when it comes to my upcoming retirement, 5/31/2018, I did not have a clear sense of call or direction. I know myself well enough that I did not want to just play golf, travel, and get fat. I know I need something a bit more academic and mission oriented to give my final years on this earth meaning. Every day the next call gets a little clearer.

I would like to share with you the Kingdom Impact Statement for the Epistrepho Business Group. The name of my activity is a work in progress. I am not totally satisfied with this title. The kingdom impact statement states that “we support for-profit business and economic development internationally, for-profit small business development nationally, and locally we will work for the development of individual skills to improve employment opportunity. All this will be done under the umbrella of Business As Mission. The question is why do I want to do this?

I have had the opportunity to travel around the United States and Internationally. Every place I go I see the need for business development that will employ people at a fair wage, therefore helping them have a flourishing life. In the United States many jobs go unfilled because people do not have basic, or advanced, skills that will help people attain the careers needed for a full life.

I have traveled to Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Honduras and observed first hand the need for for-profit economic development. In Kazakhstan I was able to observe the hangover of decades of Communist rule that continues to impact the people’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit therefore hindering the country from advancing at a faster pace. In Honduras I saw a desire, but the lack of resources due to many different issues such as corruption, greed, and selfishness. However, I saw a wonderful spirit in the hearts of people who want to be productive. Somehow I want to support that.

To prepare for whatever comes my way, I am reading and planning. I am also listening to my wife. I truly believe without for-profit businesses there would be no ability to help people in need. This is why I want to focus strictly on for-profit endeavors. Venezuela is a public laboratory where we can observe the effects of a command economy which adheres to a socialist political system. Many people in that country do not like what the government is doing, but the government is starving its people in a way that “Food is controlled and votes are bought, food is used as a political weapon and is at the center of the hurricane” (Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ). Through for-profit businesses we can fight corrupt governments and poverty in a way that can give people hope for the future.

Another way that I want to provide hope is by addressing the two Americas. According to Angus Deaton and Anne Case, who were both interviewed at a recent WSJ CEO Council their research has demonstrated that people with at least a Bachelor’s degree are doing well, while those without are not thriving. According to Anne Case, drug overdoses, suicide, and alcoholism is increasing for people without bachelor degrees, and the continued decrease of heart disease has stagnated. All of this, in my way of thinking, can be connected to the inability to have a good paying job. I want to impact that, and to do that I will be using the umbrella of Business As Mission (BAM).

BAM adopts a holistic development approach. In a paper from Lausanne.org BAM is described as a “sustainable holistic approach by mission agencies, development agencies, and business.” It also operates on a premise of business being a force for good. Even Henry Ford once said “A business that only makes money is a poor kind of business.” My experience tells me that people who work in business want to do good, but sometimes the drive to make money gets in the way. Therefore, the motive needs to change. Practice wealth creation, but use that wealth creation to deal with the many social issues facing our society. As Lausanne states, “Economics is a fundamental sphere in the process of social development and without it human existence could not be feasible. From a scriptural perspective, human life should be oriented by specific values, the values of the kingdom of God. Therefore, any aspect of social life must be evaluated in the light of such criteria.”

I don’t know where this goes from here. I know that through my future endeavors I want to provide individuals with the skills they need to work and be employable, I want to help create for-profit kingdom businesses in the United States, and I want to do the same internationally. I think that will make for a fulfilling retirement.

And that is my thought for the day!

The Holy Calling Of Business

Every morning I have a ritual. I make my pot of coffee, sick my bread in the toaster, get the peanut butter and jelly ready (with a knife), and get my newspapers from the front porch, so when the toast is done and I coat it with PB & J, I can poor my coffee and sit down to read the local paper and the Wall Street Journal. After I read the local paper, I check my email, Facebook, Instagram, and other news feeds. Then I read the Wall Street Journal. I know it seems boring, but it is what I do every morning, along with my devotions.

This morning I saw something on Facebook that was pretty cool. Several of my previous students thanked their professors for helping them to think, so they could do good in the community. I was one of those professors they acknowledged. I have to say it made my morning. Therefore, it go me thinking about my phase three strategy. I am working on trying to clarify my actions after retirement. Although I don’t want to do phase three fulltime, I do want to have some fun, I want to continue making a difference in people’s lives so they can go out and change the world. I want to do that through Business As Mission.

Today though I want to focus on four traits of a strong BAM endeavor. I am basing my thoughts on a great book, Business As Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God by Michael Baer. I agree with him that there are four traits associated with a strong business. First, seeing your business as a high and holy calling. Second, to be great you must discover and execute the purpose of your business. Third, you must have a set of vital relationships. And fourth, you must run your business with operational excellence. Let me break those down a bit.

It seems sacrilegious to say that your business is the result of a high and holy call, but if we are called to a vocation of some sort, then doing that vocation as service to God somehow sanctifies it. The word I keep coming back to is stewardship. As a steward I have been given the responsibility to properly use whatever resources I have to the glory of God. My life, and everything I do with it, is a gift. As a gift, I am responsible to do with it whatever I can to make a difference. Thus, if I own a business, or if I am an intrapreneur, then I must do my best to complete the task. Thus it is a high and holy calling.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a well known Old Testament verse. It states, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope.” This is one of those promises we hold on to when times are rough. There is some question to what this verse is referring to, but for the purposes of this paper, I am using it to make the point that if God has a purpose for each of us, then finding this purpose through inquiry and then executing a plan in line with the purpose is as point one states, a high and holy calling. The Alchemist said, “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Although this may not be completely true, I think it is important for us to find our purpose, but not just dream about it but do it. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan told us years ago that it takes discipline to get things done (Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done), therefore if we are true stewards we will fulfill our purpose.

As I stated a couple of blogs ago, I don’t think that anyone can make it alone. None of us is an island. Therefore, our success as Business people (wanting to make a difference in this world) is correlated with the number of strong relationships we have developed. There is an old Native American saying that we have two wolves warring within us. The one that we feed will be the strongest. This is true with our external relationships too. If we have strong ethical business people around us, we will be ethical businessmen and women, but if we have people around us that we don’t value and can’t trust that will detract from good business practices.

Lastly, if we want to create value in our communities as business people, then we need to run our businesses well. This means we practice proven business steps, treat our employees well, and remember that the customer is important. Whenever I think of operational excellence I think of Johnson and Johnson. In J&J’s company credo, which has served the company well since 1943, we see that J&J believes its first responsibility is to its customers, doctors, nurses, patients, mothers and fathers who use J&J’s products. Its second responsibility is to its employees, “the men and women who work with us throughout the world. . . We must respect their dignity and recognize their merit. They must have a sense of security in their jobs. Compensation must be fair and adequate and working conditions clean, orderly and safe.” The credo goes on to mention how it is the company’s responsibility to listen to its employees.

I also think that operational excellence involves loyalty to the community in which the company is located. Hershey’s is an excellent example of operational excellence. However, it is because of its operational excellence it can give back to the community. In 2015 alone Hershey’s employees volunteered for more than “98,000 hours at local non-profits, raised over $400,000 for Children’s Miracle Network and donated another $1.3 million to the United Way.” They would not be able to do this without operational excellence.

I used a phrase earlier, value creation. I’d like to define it. Value creation is first relational. It involves people working together to improve how we interact. Second, it is about having money left over to be able to do something good with. People are paid enough money to take care of their families, who in turn take care of their communities, who in turn take care of those who don’t have the same opportunities. What I am describing is in part what Business As Mission is all about. I am sold on Business As Mission, and I believe that as a Christian it is my responsibility to recognize my high and holy calling, to execute the purpose I have found, develop the best relationships I can, and do everything to the best of my ability. I intend to accomplish this, and I hope you will too.

And that is my thought for the day!