Does the Holy Spirit guide your personal life, your family life and your business? One CEO expressed his approach to the role of the Holy Spirit in his life as “I look for signs, I look for things I should be doing,” he said. “I want to live my life doing what God wants me to do.” That was not always the case prior to this decision. There was a time he was so focused on his business, it almost cost him his marriage and led to a crisis of faith. Reflecting on that time in his life, he said, “As you get pretty successful, you start to think it’s all you and that you’re something special.”
Around that time he made a retreat, which began the transformation. He then decided to make more time for his family and for community service, with his public roles becoming increasingly altruistic.
And he learned an important lesson. A true disciple and business leader cannot live a contradictory double life. In the words of Jesus, a disciple cannot serve God and money. Instead, integrity must be a fundamental virtue of the Christian business man or woman. There can be no split between faith and daily business practice.
What makes the difference between a truly Christian business and one that is basically secular in nature is the role of Jesus and his teachings. The former does not have just a Christian front, while interiorly being secular, but is truly Christian, founded on solid moral principles and virtues.
The Christian business belongs to the Lord – because the leader has invited Jesus to be the Lord of his or her life. Like Jesus the Christian business leader seeks the will of the Father in every aspect of life, family and business.
On the other hand, the secular business follows a different code, where profit is more important than relationships or integrity. The bottom line becomes like a self-made god to which everything is sacrificed. It becomes the lord that is at the center of every decision.
However, where Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit is invoked and attended to in formulating the direction of the company. Being the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, in His perfect timing, will guide the owner one step at a time in accomplishing God’s plan for the business. What is needed is trust in God’s divine purpose. At times it may seem odd to follow what God is asking you to do. While the lead of the Spirit, properly discerned, may sound implausible or even impossible, following it will prove beneficial in the long run.
This paradigm shift to the Lordship of Jesus and the lead of the Holy Spirit will result in becoming the leader Jesus desires you to be, following his example. It is the leadership of service, what God has modeled for the greater common good. Because the Christian business leader is a committed servant of the Lord, he or she is conscious of the accountability that must be given. To whom much is given, much is expected.
From Baptism and Confirmation, the Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit and with the various spiritual gifts of the Spirit. What would happen if a Christian business leader would begin to employ these gifts for the good of the business enterprise? Would decisions be different? Would discernment enable better decisions?
Would managing conflicts be handled differently if the Holy Spirit had been invoked from the beginning? Whenever you have human beings working together, there will be misunderstandings, drama and differing points of view. Jesus experienced this often in His life and the early Church did as well. The first step is to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Following His lead, there is the need to hear both sides. When a decision is made, all parties must accept the decision and move on; or not accept the decision and find another job. That may sound harsh, but if one of the parties cannot move forward, then that party will continue to cause problems.
A Christian business leader can lean on personal wisdom, strength and other natural gifts or can lean on the presence, power and plan of the Holy Spirit, Who in turn will provide the various fruits needed for the business to be effective. The choice comes down to following God’s plan or one’s own plan.
Retired in 2013, BISHOP SAM G. JACOBS is Bishop Emeritus of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese. In 2014 he celebrated 50 years as a priest and 25 years of episcopacy (bishop).