Simon Sinek wrote a book and gave a popular Ted Talk in 2009 called “Start with Why.” Sinek says that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Most people know what they do, many know how they do it. However, those who know why they do something, and lead from their beliefs, tend to have better results. Leaders who know their why also tend to inspire others, and people follow them not because they have to, but because they want to. As a Christian business leader, knowing your why is two-fold. There is a universal call all Christians have while there are also callings tailored to each individual. Both aspects should influence what you do in business and how you do it.
A Why For All Christian Business Leaders
For Christ followers, we are all called to glorify God in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). We don’t seek our own glory but instead give God the credit, letting Him be seen through us in our work and how we treat others (Psalm 115:1, Matthew 5:16). When we make every effort to love God and know Him, seek to have godly character, and share His love with others we bring glory to God and show our delight in Him. Jesus says in Matthew 5:16 that when we do this, others will give glory to God as well. This is a universal why that guides all believers.
We can let this why drive how we do business in many ways. You pray and seek God’s direction when making business decisions. When it’s tempting to take credit for your company’s success, you remember it’s God who enables you and all things are in His control. When others are cutting corners or pursue gain dishonestly, as a Christian business leader you maintain integrity and good character in your business practices, even behind closed doors. You model servant leadership in the way Jesus did as you lead others. You share the gospel and love of Jesus with those around you when you can and use your business to serve your team and your community. These are ways for all Christian executives to live into your why of bringing God glory.
After knowing your why and allowing it to drive how you do business, according to Sinek’s model, you may have a better understanding of what you want to be doing. Is the product or service your business provides honoring to God? If not, refocus to business that is worthy of your time, talents, and attention. You may ask yourself more questions to clarify what problems you are solving through your business or what you can do to have a greater Kingdom impact on those you work with and on the community you are in. What you are doing will then be done with excellence when it starts with a compelling why.
Your Unique Whys
Other ways to know and live in your why are more nuanced, as it is different from person to person. This way of living your why is personal to how God made you, what He made you to do, and who He allows you to influence. These whys can impact your business, but they also might not. Either way, they influence how you interact with others and with the world around you.
First, pray and ask God for His guidance in what He is calling you to, the passions and giftings God’s given you, and how you can lean into those things. Consider what the Bible says related to these things and the insight His word can give. This might also include life experiences you’ve been through and have a desire to help others through, or a problem that especially breaks your heart. Sometimes your greatest setbacks or hurts can be your launching pad into your most meaningful why.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Beuchner
You will also have additional personal callings specific to the roles that you play: spouse, sibling, son or daughter, parent, grandparent, friend, mentor/mentee, supervisor, etc. Each require different things of you which will also change throughout the lifetime of these relationships. There are many things that can influence your personal whys. Whatever they may be for you, examine them with the Lord for how they might reveal a why that guides what you do with your time and how you do those things. It’s also important to note that your personal whys can have varying timelines. Some might last your lifetime and others might only last for a season, so assessing your personal whys as time goes on is a necessary practice to go through with the Lord.
Knowing your why and allowing your why to guide what you do and how you do it will keep you on course to live more on purpose in your personal, professional, and spiritual life. It reminds us to live on mission day to day and keeps us from “going through the motions.” As a Christian business leader, it also allows you to lead others better and inspire them in their work as part of your team.