May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. Genesis 31:49

Listen to the lesson as you read along:

(Running Time 2 minutes 15 seconds)

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Today I want us to look back at an Old Testament story.  It is the story of Jacob and his Father-in-law Laban.  Jacob made a deal with Laban to marry his daughter.  Laban tricked him and gave him the wrong daughter.  He tried again and Laban kept changing the contract.

Jacob was in a foreign land doing business.  He was hired to take care of Laban’s goat herds.  After working for ten years, Laban changed the agreement.  Then, he had to work another ten years, but finally Jacob was able to have his own herd.

The story of Jacob and Laban give us a great picture about how to deal with others.  We should always be respectful and honor our agreements.  When someone changes they deal, we have to be wise in the way we act towards them.

The thing I want you to notice in this entire story, found in Genesis 29-31, is that God always blessed Jacob’s work.  Everything Jacob did was blessed by God.  Some would say that Jacob was ‘favored.’

When we line up our lives with God, we line up our lives to follow God.  Let me say that a different way.  When we commit our lives to live for God with all that we are and all that we have, we can’t help but be guided by God.

Jacob was a trickster and that is how he got his birthright and here we see him being tricked by Laban.  Yet, even in the middle of all his hardship he knew that God was in control.

Look at the end of verse 42, God literally stepped in. God rebuked Laban in a dream for what he was doing.  God warned Laban not to mess with Jacob anymore.

God has our back.  He is here for us even when times get tough in business.  It is at these times that we must rest in God and trust Him to guide us.

Jacob could have left at any time, but did not leave Laban’s land until God told him to.  He waited even for an additional ten years until God gave him the go ahead.

How long do you wait for God to give you direction?  We live in a microwave society and we want everything this minute.  God does not work on our time frame.  We must work on His time frame.

In your business, truly seek out God.  Look for His direction and don’t make a move until God gives you the go ahead.  Yes, we have brains and we can act in wisdom, but make sure our wisdom in rooted in God’s direction and not our own.

In the meantime . . . May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. Genesis 31:49

Christian Christmas giftsMany companies take Christmas as a time of the year to give.  They give Christmas cards and some send little or big gifts to their clients.

I have heard you should send gifts proportionate to how much they spend. Others say you should send the same gift to all of them.  Still others say, have a party and only give gifts to those who come.

No matter what your policy is, do you consider Christ in your giving?

What if every business sent really nice Bible’s to all of their clients?  Would that make an impact?

What if every business sent salvation pamphlets in their Christmas cards?  Would that make a difference?

Christ is the whole reason for Christmas.  It is not about gifts, although there is nothing wrong with giving gifts.  We just must consider what kind of message we are sending.

If we send brownies, wine, gift cards, etc. what message are we sending to our clients?

And, if everyone is expecting a gift, then you are competing for attention with everyone. We miss the point of giving when we do it at times that people expect it.

We don’t want to be put in a pile of, “Oh look, another fruitcake.”  We want to stand out and really show appreciation for the INDIVIDUAL we are sending a gift.

I want you to reframe gift giving.  Instead of thinking about what your company can give to another company, ask what you can give another individual with consideration.  Look at their personal social media.  What are they interested in?  What values do they have?  How can you match up what you give with the message the Christ came to save mankind and we celebrate that at Christmas?

Let’s play out a scenario.  Let’s say you find out that a good client of yours named Don has just adopted a dog from a rescue shelter.  You know that he cares about animals.  With further digging, you see that his Mom passed away almost a year ago and he got married two years ago.   His life situations have changed considerably over the last year.

Now ask yourself two questions:

  • What kind of gift should I give Don?
  • How can I make Christ important?

The gift you send would depend on how well you actually know Don.  Is he a believer?  Is he struggling?  Is your friendship close or distant?

When you know who you are sending to, why you are giving the gift and have a strong relationship with the client, your gift will outshine all others.  That individual will feel your love and the love of Christ coming through a carefully thought out gift.

 

Giving gifts for Christmas means giving from the heart, not the wallet. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur #Christmas Click To Tweet

sharing Christ at Christmas partiesHonestly, this is a tough one.  My first impulse, is yes, share Christ anywhere you can.  If you have created a culture within your business that allows you to openly share Christ, then go for it.

But that is not the rest of the story . . .

My wife is a VP at a Credit Union.  She has a few people in her department that do not celebrate Christmas.  She has taken special measures to be honest, but not offend the people she works with.  She created a holiday get together, but wanted to honor those who don’t believe like she does. I applaud her desire to openly live out her faith at the same time to be sensitive to how God is working in the lives of others.

It is tough in the world today.  If we offend someone of different beliefs, we have done an injustice to God.  I am not saying we should walk on eggshells about our beliefs, but understanding what others believe is important.

In your business, you may have a Christmas party for vendor or customers.  That is a great tradition in many businesses.  I don’t have any problem telling them to openly share their faith.  As individuals, we should always be sharing our faith in words, deeds and action.

The question comes about when you want to present the gospel to the whole group.  When you want to do a presentation for everyone, you must pray about it. As a business owner, there will be some people who don’t believe like you do.  Yes, we want to tell them, but how much more powerful is it when we tell them as individuals?

If you want to share with the whole group, do so with wisdom.  You may let everyone know on the invitation that you will be sharing about why you think Christmas is so important.  If you are going to do a presentation, let them know about it.  Let God prepare them to receive a message.

You may even want to read the story from the Bible and let God’s word connect to people deeply.

Whatever you do, make sure you cover it in prayer.  I know some people would say you don’t have to pray about sharing your faith.  That is true.  Yet, as a business owner, you represent Christ in the marketplace.  You want to be wise about how you present God to individuals.

Depending on your business culture and audience, the Christmas party may not be the place to share that message to the crowds, but may be the perfect place to talk to individuals about who you believe in and why!
If you choose to share Christ to a group at Christmas,  check out what this business owner did at his company Christmas party.  (Just click on the sentence to go to the article.)

When sharing your faith at Christmas, speak from one heart to another. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur #Christmas Click To Tweet

Christian Business Christmas cardI have heard a lot of people ask this question.  I thought I would share my thought process and hopefully it will help you make a good decision.

As I was walking down the aisles looking at Christmas cards, I saw some really pretty cards.  I usually skip over the santa and elf cards and since I live in Texas, I don’t usually go with the snowmen cards either.

I saw many with the wise men and nativity scenes and I thought, these would be good to share.  When they opened up there were some nice ‘sayings.’  They may say ‘remember the reason for the season” or something like that.

Then, I had to back up.  I had to ask myself, will the people who receive my card ‘get’ the message.  If I am trying to share about the love of God, I don’t know if a clever saying will convey the message appropriately.  In reality, for some people the reason for the season is gifts.

Think about it, most nativity scene Christmas cards are for Christians.  They are not for those outside of the faith and they probably won’t be the catalyst to bring someone to know Christ.

You must decide the purpose of sending Christmas cards. Are you just being nice and sending a well-wishing card?  Are you truly honoring them with a hand-written message specifically for them?  Whatever you do make sure there is a purpose.

Maybe, your purpose is announcing the celebration of a Savior?  Great. Then, make sure your message is clear and not full of Christianese.

We need to look at all of our communication as representing Christ.  If we include a Bible verse, the message is irrelevant if the message is missed because of the context.

If your company is built on Christian values, highlight those values.  You may say something like, “We believe in serving the customer.  Our commitment comes from our Christian faith.  We want to share with you a Merry Christmas.” Then, on the opposite side, have the entire Christmas story right out of the Bible.

If you want to share the Christmas story, share it.  Don’t use a cute and clever saying or a stand alone Bible verse on the back of a card.  Share God’s message, as it was written in God’s word.

 

If you include the Bible in Christmas cards, make sure you share the whole message. #Christianbusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Today’s video is from Smart and Relentless.  They show you 20 ways to become a better Christian.  And they do it in a video that is less than 4 minutes!

As a business owner and a Christian, the more you grow your spiritual life, the more your business life will blossom.  God wants to show you to success, but he wants to do so by first fully trusting in Him.

 

Spend time seeking God's guidance and your business can't help but grow. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28

Listen to the lesson as you read along:

(Running Time 2 minutes 15 seconds)

(Right click here and “save as’ to download MP3 audio – 2 minutes 15 seconds)

 

Hebrews is written to a Jewish audience.  The great cloud of witnesses would be all the faithful who have gone before us.  We are to “fix our eyes on Jesus” and “not grow weary or lose heart.”

Starting in verse 4, we see that God wants us to grow.  He gives us hardships to build our faith and help us become the people He created us to be.  Just as our parents guided us towards becoming an honorable person, God guides us to become righteous, peaceful and faith-filled.

He reminds us to live out that peace with everyone and to be holy.  It is how we act, not as righteous snobs, but as loving disciples, that brings people to know Him.  We must live above the standards of this world and not get caught up in its trappings.

In verse 18, we talk about mountains.  One mountain was so holy, it was not to be touched.  The other mountain is a mountain of joy.  It is for the church whose names are written in heaven. It is a place for those who have trusted in Jesus as the true Savior of mankind.

We are to trust Him with everything.  He is a consuming fire that fills us up and purifies us.  His fire reaches to every part of us and if we accept that fire, that cleansing, we are made a heavenly home.

How great is it that we have God’s word to guide us and fill us up?  His Holy Spirit dwells inside of us so that we can grow and impact all the world around us.  God has filled us with such joy, we can’t help but tell others about what He has done for us.

In your business, ask yourself how much of God’s joy is in what you do.  God sent Jesus here for us so that we may live a life on earth different from what the world thinks is right.  We are to live holy and our life is to become the light that others see when they are lost in their darkness.

Is your business bringing life or are you just doing enough to get by?  Is God the leader of your business or are you just doing what you have always done?

Look to God anew for your business.  Take a deep breath of God into your life.  Lay down your business at the foot of the mountain and let God’s consuming fire show you what is important.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28

Christmas sales truckWe’ve been talking about how important it is to keep the right attitude about sales during the holidays.

Sales can be year round.  Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, Black Saturdays and whatever other things hit around Christmas. . . not to mention New Year’s Sales, Easter Sales, Independence Day Sales, Thanksgiving, Halloween, etc.

It is not about keeping up with the trends and riding each wave that comes along each year, it is about the attitude about it.

Do we create sales because everyone else is or do we create sale because we value our customers and want to honor God?

I know we can get controversial here, but let’s keep it real.  God gave you the opportunity to have a business, not to make money, but to impact lives.

Yes, you will make money if you are helping other solve their problems.  There is no problem to charge for the products and services you have.  If you don’t make money, you can’t help people.

Sales, discounts, coupons, marketing . . . these are all part of business.  Our plans should include how we will help others and make an impact for God.

With the new year coming up, have you taken time to pray about your plans for the next year?  Have you truly engaged the God of the Universe, who gave you your business, in the plans for your business?

It is not about sales. . .it is about having a right relationship with money.  It is about having a growing relationship with God.  

If you keep your life and your business lined up with God, then your plans will help people and impact lives.  One of those lives is yours.  You will grow, your business will grow and God will be standing right beside you smiling and saying . . . “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

 

Christians in business start with a growing relationship with the God of the Universe. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Origin of Holiday Sales

the origin of holiday salesWhen we look back it is hard to pin down the origin of holiday sales in America, but we can see a specific trend emerging starting with Franklin Roosevelt in 1939.

Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving from last Thursday to the fourth Thursday. That may not seem like a big move, but in some years that added an extra week before Christmas allowing retailers to have more time to sell presents for Christmas.

Why wait till after Thanksgiving?

There was an unwritten rule among retailers that they should not advertise about Christmas before Thanksgiving. Many of them were chomping at the bits and jumped on the idea that so many people were taking Friday off after Thanksgiving. That gave them more potential customers, so they competed to get them in the doors.

Basically, each year large cities would host a parade celebrating Thanksgiving. It would end with Santa.  That would trigger people to think about preparing for Christmas.   That would allow retailers the opportunity to have sales immediately following Thanksgiving.

Where do we get Black Friday?

Black Friday was coined in the 1950’s with a different meaning.  It was a day that workers called in sick in order to have a four day weekend.  It was also used by Police to refer to the abundance of people congregating in town centers on that same day.

It was not until 1975 in an article in the New York times that we got the modern meaning.  It referred to the biggest shopping day of the season.  It wasn’t until 1985 that it become more widespread, even though the trend had not hit many larger cities.

 

The Black Friday Modern Trend

The respect for Thanksgiving has been trampled by the need to get one step earlier than the competition.  It went from opening early on Friday to pushing to midnight sales and today many retailers just stay open on Thanksgiving.

A simple observation can tell us that our society is slowly creeping holidays across the entire year to better pad their bottom line. If they can keep us thinking about the next thing to buy in this ever aware digital society, they can get our hard earned money for the newest trends and electronices.

 

What is the point for Christians?

This year I saw Christmas decorations the day after Halloween.  We are bombarded by people trying to get our attention.  We live in a modern society that begs us to keep up with everyone else, less we become antiquated.  I mean, really, is that last years phone?!

Christians need to reevaluate the reason for holidays.  Thanksgiving is not about turkey.  It is about family and thanking God for the opportunities He has given us over the last year.  Christmas is not about gifts, it is about THE GIFT.  Christ came to earth to save us.  (How much money could we save if that was our focus?)

I don’t claim to have all of the answers.  I just want us to start a dialogue and separate our buying habits from our celebration of Christ’s birth.

 

Conclusion for Christian business owners.

If our strategy is to take advantage of every wind and wave that comes along, we are missing the boat.  As business owners, we want to make sales, but more than that, we should want to help others.

Our strategy needs to be caring for our customers, understanding their needs. If we choose to use the holidays to connect to them in a powerful way, then go for it.  Just make sure our purpose is always centered in our direction from our CEO, God.  Pray, read His Word and act accordingly in your business!

 

If you want to maximize sales for Christmas, focus on the real reason and act accordingly. #ChristianBusiness #Christianentrepreneur #Christmas Click To Tweet

 

For more info check out these articles on Wikipedia:

 

holiday salesBlack friday . . . cyber monday . . .it all amounts to hurrying to get the next best deal.

What if we built a business based on God’s principles?  What would happen if people trusted our business so much that they did not even think about going somewhere else no matter what kind of sales were going on?

I am not saying we should not be competitive, but our competitive advantage is the way we care for people.  It is the way that God’s love shines out of our business and into the lives of others.

I am not saying I have all the answers.  I am saying we need to rethink how we use holidays to sell more stuff.  Our focus should always be on the way we care for others and share the love of God.  If our customers know that, we don’t have to entice them with the next big sale.  Instead, we can honor them with their committed loyalty and help them make a great decision.

Holiday sales should be about honoring our customers and our God. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Whatever You Do

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17

Listen to the lesson as you read along:

(Running Time 3 minutes)

(Right click here and “save as’ to download MP3 audio – 3minutes)

You would probably expect a Bible study about business to start with this verse.  It is a simple verse with a profound message.

First a story about hats. . .

When I was in sixth grade I had a teacher names Mrs Haynes.  She would get started on a subject by saying, “Put your thinking caps on.”  I used to imagine what that cap would look like, but thinking about putting a thinking cap on helped me focus.  I picked up that practice in my adult like.

When I go to work, I put my ‘boss’ hat on.  I do my best to focus on my work while I am at the office.    I even have separate emails for business and personal so I don’t get distracted.  It is a great practice and I encourage any business owner to pick up the practice.

Basically, I compartmentalize my work to be done at work.

When I get home, it’s a whole different story.  I take off my ‘boss’ hat and put on my ‘husband’ hat.  It is here that I can engage in meaningful conversation with my wife.  I can ask about her day and not have to think about the lingering things at work because I left them there.

All of us compartmentalize who we are depending on who we are around.  We may act a certain way in a business meeting and another way at a ball game.  We should act differently. Could you imagine standing up in a business meeting and shouting cheers or starting the wave?  It may be fun, but probably wouldn’t get much business done.

The point is, we have different ways of handling different parts of our days, but we are the same person.  We have the same God living and working through us in all situations.  Whatever you do in word or deed you are doing because of who you are and who Christ is in you.

If you look at the context of this short sentence, it gives us a bit of insight.  Before this verse we are being called “God’s chosen people” (vs 12) and being admonished to “let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.” (vs 15)  We are then given instructions on how to live, teach and be grateful.

Then, immediately following this verse, the Bible reminds us of our roles: wives, husbands, children, Fathers, and Slaves (workers).  We are told again to work with all our hearts as if working for the Lord.

See this simple verse is right in the middle of how God wants us to do business. He wants us to become His chosen people no matter what the setting.  Then, he wants us to live our lives in whatever roles we have to honor Him.

Even as an entrepreneur, when you work as though you are working for the Lord, you always have the best boss.  Set your minds on God today and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to the Father through Him.  Amen.