Shining Your ‘Christ Light’ As a Business Owner
Starting and running your own business is a huge professional step in your career journey! As a Christian, you might wonder how you can impact the world through your business, not just from a services standpoint but from a spiritual one, too. Dr. Cathy Denison-Robert, MBA, business consultant, coach, trainer, small business owner, professor, and 4word mentor, offers four areas business owners should focus on when building their business on Biblical principles.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I am a servant leader working as a business consultant, coach, educator, manager, trainer, and mentor with excitement to help others to be the best they can be. I am the oldest of six daughters, raised on a family farm, have a 24-year-old son, have managed my own business for about 20 years and have been a university professor for over eight years. My husband, who works as a Chaplain, and I lead a small group at our church, and we serve together in faith and business educational programming. Since I personally lost everything after a hurricane, another major passion of mine is to assist businesses and workers that have been devastated or impacted by disaster and crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does it mean to “build a business” on Biblical principles?
We want to build and manage our business to be God-honoring and people focused, to live out our purpose, and to advance the kingdom. This might look different to each of us based on our calling and our purpose as God has designed.
Our business should be developed and run following Biblical values and principles, being faithful to who God wants each of us to be, and shining Christ’s light in all our business activities and daily encounters. I believe in the integration of faith and work, as well as Business as Mission concepts.
Is it harder to run a business as a Christian?
With all the conflict taking place in America and around the world, on the surface it seems like it is harder to successfully run a business as a Christian and having the business built on a spiritual foundation. However, with God as our business partner and the Bible as our business guide, we can stand on and live out these values without compromising personal integrity and faith. Also, we should not make our customers and others of different faith traditions feel alienated. Instead, we should serve our customers with justice, love, appreciation, respect, and a spirit of excellence. Just follow the golden rule, shine your Christ light and serve all.
What are four things any potential business owner should focus on when building their business on Christian principles?
In an abbreviated version of my training workshop and presentation, “Essentials for Business Success Inspired by the Bible,” I provide four Ps for business (for-profit and nonprofit) success that have been inspired by the Bible. This includes four major categories with numerous important points noted throughout.
My 4 Ps, one main Bible verse for each P category, and key action items are included below:
1. The first P includes Purpose and Order. In our business (for-profit and nonprofit), we should follow God’s purpose and order. This actually comes from three scriptures, but the main one for this first P is:
“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NLT)
a. Seek first the Kingdom of God – We are called to seek first the Kingdom of God knowing that all else will be given to us.
b. Go and make disciples of all the nations – Following the Great Commission should be one of the highest priorities in our business and/or our job.
2. The second P includes Plans and Practices. This includes our plans and business practices that we carry out on a daily basis. We should commit our actions, practices, and plans to the Lord, while we take steps forward in faith and are God-honoring. The main scripture for my second P is:
“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3, NLT)
a. Work with Integrity, Honesty, Excellence, Professionalism, Ethicality, Transparency – In all that we do whether as a business owner or working in the workplace, we should demonstrate these practices, values, and attributes.
b. Above all else, be a Servant Leader – We are called to serve first. I challenge each of us to move ourselves aside and be a servant instead of expecting others to serve us. Excellent leaders have the heart and attitude of serving others first.
c. Love God and Love people – In all business interactions, we should illustrate our love for God and show love to all people including our co-workers, partners, colleagues, employees, contractors, customers, collaborators, suppliers, regulators, board members, competitors, and all stakeholders that we interact with. Let’s be a blessing to others.
3. The third P includes Professional and Personal Development for the business owner and others. The key scripture for my third P is:
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (1 Peter 4:10, NLT)
a. Use our gifts and talents – We are called to use our spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and attributes to continue to move forward as we serve others thus advancing the kingdom.
b. Continue learning and growing – To work and lead with excellence, it requires to be a life-long learner… always learning and advancing in business and in personal growth.
c. Seek wise counsel and mentors. Mentor others – No matter how much education and experience, it is recommended that we continue to seek out wisdom from others, including mentors and accountability partners. As an act of service, we can offer to mentor others, like participating in the 4word Mentor Program. I have been both a Mentor and a Mentee in this outstanding program.
4. The fourth and final P includes Prayer, Praise and Thanksgiving. My main scripture is:
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)
a. Pray, praise, and worship always – Prayer, praise, and worship is the foundation of a strong Christian business and workplace.
b. Be joyful and thankful – No matter what the circumstances, let’s be joyful and full of thanksgiving. Life and business are tough. It can be easier when we show thanksgiving and gratitude rather than complaining and negativity. This is a challenge to all of us.
In summary, when considering developing a business on a Christian foundation following Biblical principles, we want this to be a way of life including the full integration of faith and work.
As a business consultant, coach, trainer, and small business owner, Cathy Denison-Robert, PhD, MBA, has worked with businesses, non-profit organizations, and aspiring entrepreneurs for 20 years. She has proven expertise in the fields of Business Consulting, Project Management, Strategic Planning, Leadership, Marketing, Community Outreach, Business Disaster Recovery, Coaching, Training, Teaching, Telemedicine, Entrepreneurship, Organizational Development, and Grant Writing. Her woman-owned small business is Cathy Denison, PhD and Associates Professional Services, Inc.
Dr. Cathy Denison-Robert, MBA, is Director of the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Program and Associate Professor at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (FranU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She enjoys teaching, mentoring, and leading students in Business, Management, Marketing, and Health Administration courses, including Entrepreneurship. Her favorite university work is to help students to develop real business projects that serve community organizations while teaching the students business, workplace and life skills.
She enjoys teaching, coaching, training, and empowering others in the Christian mission field with focus on Servant Leadership, Bible-based Business Principles, and Business as Mission. She is very passionate about helping others to assess and develop their God-given talents and abilities, especially in leadership, workplace skills, and business. Cathy and her husband, Jody, are small group leaders at Bethany Church in Baton Rouge, LA. Together, they are launching a nonprofit organization to assist businesses and workers impacted by disaster and crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Cathy’s son, Devin, works as a Quality and Industrial Engineer. She was raised on a family farm in Southwest Louisiana where she learned about hard work and love for serving others as exemplified by her parents and five sisters.
Cathy’s academic degrees include the following: Post-Doctorate in Management and Marketing from the University of Florida; Ph.D. and M.S. in Vocational Ed (HR Ed.) from Louisiana State University (LSU); and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.