The Christian in the Workplace: As a Private Entrepreneur

The Christian who is a small business person, with all the burdens of hiring, employee relations, business management and financial accountability will find this article helpful.

In Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary an entrepreneur is defined as one who organizes, manages and assumes all the risks of a business or enterprise. It is, admittedly, a difficult step to begin a business, especially if you already have responsibilities such as a home and family. Although being self-employed can be quite rewarding, it is not for everybody. Some have been known to leave a secure position in a good company for “being my own boss,” only to find financial hardship, marital stress, physical illness and spiritual ruin. Waiting upon God and knowing his will are essential before such a step is taken (Eph 5.17).

My purpose in writing this article is not to discourage anyone from entrepreneurship, but to address some of the issues that often confront a believer who is an employer. I would like to be practical in my remarks and look at scriptural guidelines as well. You will not be long in your venture before realizing that there are very few places in the business world where Christian principles are welcomed. It is, sad to say, generally accepted as part of doing business to make a pay off, receive a kickback, allow substandard work and not fulfill a commitment. Enter the businessman who is a Christian. If the principles of the Word of God are being applied in your business practices, it should soon be known among your clients and associates that you and your company are different. Words such as honest, trustworthy, commitment and quality, not often used to describe others, are being used to characterize you. Peter reminds us in his first epistle, “Having your conversation (or conduct) honest among the Gentiles: that… they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Because such qualities are still appreciated, it will not be long before it is evident that the work load is increasing and that help is needed. The question now arises, whom do I hire? Usually our own personal work ethics are the basis by which we judge others worthy to be hired. It would be great to be able to hire only believers with the same principles and convictions that you have, and in a small business that is legal. There are, however, limits to selective hiring. Once a company reaches a certain size, care needs to be taken that a discrimination charge cannot be applied. The government has information that can be obtained free of charge regarding hiring practices, and it is important to be familiar with these regulations. This does not mean that the employer eventually has no say in who can be hired. There are a number of ways in preserving the company from unpropitious employees. Since a brief interview or two will not reveal the true character of a person, a personal reference is helpful and speaking to previous employers is also beneficial.

It is also important for any prospective employee to know some things about you, the company owner. Although it is not suggested that a gospel sermon be preached during the initial interview, it should be made clear that you have high moral standards for yourself and your company. The reason for this is that you are a Christian. Perhaps here I should mention that one of the great benefits of being an employer is not only that we can and should walk Christ-like before the unbeliever, we also have the liberty to speak of our Savior at any time and to encourage other believers in our employ to do the same. When someone is hired, they must know from the beginning what is expected of them. A company handbook is a vital tool in stating not only the employee’s responsibilities, but what is permitted and what is not permitted on company time. The handbook should address clearly such issues as profanity, vulgarity, offensive clothing, improper behavior between employees, smoking, alcohol and drug use, to name a few. Have the employee read the handbook and sign a form acknowledging they understand what they have read. If a work rule is not officially addressed in writing it will be difficult to enforce it if there is a violation.

As mentioned earlier in this article it is crucial that our Christianity be seen in every aspect of our business life. Never let it be thought that displaying holiness in the presence of business associates or clients will hinder closing a deal or making a sale. Is not our true purpose in this life to represent the Lord Jesus and allow everything else to follow in its place? Remember the Savior’s words on the mount, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:13). Someone once said, “When our priority is spiritual, God will take care of the material, for where God guides, He provides. “Again, this does not mean that we are should preach at every business meeting we attend. What it does mean, however, is that our lives should be consistent with the call of God (1 Peter 1:15). We should never allow ourselves to be drawn into circumstances or surroundings that could link us with evil and dishonor the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:13-16 come to mind: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is therefore good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”