To be a Christian is to follow the words and ways of Christ in all that we say and do. Always, not merely on Sundays. Therefore, we cannot, nor should we try to, separate our Christian-values from our workplaces. At North Greenville University, we believe that business and careers can be strengthened through the practice of our beliefs, in subtle and not so subtle ways. Many others agree, including Ian Mitroff and Elizabeth Denton who state in A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America: “spirituality could be the ultimate competitive advantage.” In the MBA program, we address many Christian values, three of which are leadership, integrity and industry.
Our leadership starts with and is guided by a true and faithful relationship with Christ. We must perform our jobs or run our businesses in ways that will bring honor to Christ and our fellow Christians. From Corinthians 11:1 we learn: “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Jesus led by example, communicating what is right and just, so Christians who lead must do the same. Our leadership means bringing encouragement, compassion, commitment and patience to the workplace. This verse from 1 Peter 5: 2 – 3 speaks directly to how we should perform our leadership duties: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
The primary definition of integrity refers to being honest and having strong moral principles. However, a secondary definition refers to integrity as the state of being whole and undivided. When we try to compartmentalize our Christian values into work and home, we lack integrity and are not whole. If we are honest and just in all of our interactions and transactions, if we make commitments and keep them, if we offer compliments in public and criticisms in private, if we strive for excellence and to exceed expectations, then we are people of integrity.
The third value that we encourage is industry – to have a good work ethic (there’s a reason it’s called a Christian-work ethic, after all). There’s a sign that hangs in my office that reads: Work as if everything depends upon you. Pray as if everything depends upon God. For most people, work is the way by which we identify ourselves, and that is how it should be when we view all work as service to the Lord. My grandfather was fond of quoting Proverb 16: 27 “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” whenever he felt we were wasting time or being unproductive.
Indeed, the Bible is full of exhortations about the importance of work, such as 2 Thessalonians 5: 12: “We order and encourage such people by the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”
Work, honesty, and leadership are all virtues that are respected across all business practice, but, when backed by Christian values, they are even more powerful.
Written by Dr. Tracy Kramer, Dean, Graduate School of Business, T. Walter Brashier Graduate School