Wincing at “Christian” Organization
JULY 30, 2014
I know people have good intentions, but when I hear “Christian” used as an adjective with business or organization, it makes me wince a little. Am I saying I have a problem with someone wanting to run their business in a God honoring way? Am I saying that there shouldn’t be organizations doing ministry in the name of Christ?
No—heaven forbid—I work for Key Life, the best job I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve known many Christians who dedicate their businesses to honoring God.
What I’m saying is that sometimes, when people put the qualifier of “Christian” in front of their business or other organization, the thought almost seems to be that somehow it sanctifies the business. Then God must want it to succeed, and meet all of its goals—at any cost. And every action and decision must be divinely inspired. And sin is no longer an issue. Calling a business “Christian” at times seems to somehow justify some really bad, even “unChristian,” decisions or actions.
I know that people in business do some really bad things
For the biggest part of my career, I was in management in relatively large, secular, for-profit businesses. I know that people in business do some really bad things, some of them notoriously becoming public and hurting a lot of people (think Enron or Bernie Madoff). But you know, I really haven’t seen that much of that in the places I’ve worked. Maybe it’s just fear of the liability, but most of the time, even when taking tough actions like firing people, I’ve seen some effort to be fair. Mostly there is some sense of obligation to help individuals make a transition to other jobs—which is effectively sharing in the responsibility for the employee’s outplacement. And thankfully, of course, some of the most compassionate and redeeming actions I’ve heard of in any workplace come from Christians in successful “Christian” businesses.
On the other hand, some of the most egocentric, unfair, uncompassionate, disvaluing, or abusive actions I’ve seen or heard of in any organization have come from God’s people in “Christian” businesses or ministries—in fact, I’ve probably done some of those things myself (and then thought about some that I fortunately didn’t get around to).
No simple solutions or conclusions
Other than to say that putting “Christian” as part of a qualifier for an organization shouldn’t hide the fact that we’re still sinners in a fallen world, desperately in need of God’s grace.
Key Life is focused on the radical nature of God’s grace in Christ, and how it relates to all of life. It affects how we live our lives as believers—even in “Christian” organizations. And we not only want to teach about grace, we aspire to model grace. In my role, that has me thinking about how grace manifests in the workplace.
Is grace relevant to the organization? And if so, what does it look like? That’s what we’ll focus on in future posts. Hope you’ll join in the discussion.