How To Manage The Tension Between Business and Christian Ministry

It seems that every time I turn around I am neglecting either the business of our company or the goal of doing Christian ministry through our company. It is a difficult balance to maintain. In fact, I have often felt I was doing something wrong because I could not shake the tension between the two. I recently found out this is not true.


Jim Reese – CEO, Atlanta Mission

This is the third post in a series of five that describes the advice my brother and I received from business and ministry leader, Jim Reese. Mr. Reese seen incredible success in the business world over a stellar career with executive positions in companies such as Randstad N.A., Frito-Lay, and HoneyBaked Ham, but he has also significantly impacted people for eternity through his work with Atlanta Mission. He has taken his exceptional business skills and is applying them in Christian ministry.

In the first post in this series, we discussed how Mr. Reese advised us to Redefine Success if we are going to attempt to run our business as a platform for Christian ministry. In the next post, I told you that he urged us to remember that when we do ministry in the course of doing business, Results Are Not Always Immediately Evident Or Measurable.

Below, is the third of five main points I gained from our conversation. This advice is directed at anyone trying to buck the norms of this world and integrate their faith into their work. If you are trying to run your business from an eternal perspective, then you need to heed this advice.

[box][typography font=”Cardo” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Recommendation #3:[/typography]

    [typography font=”Cardo” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Recognize and manage the constant tension between business and ministry.[/typography]


Always A Tension

Mr. Reese did not say that business and ministry do not mix. He did not say that you cannot do both at the same time. What he did say was that there will always be a tension between the two. To ignore this fact is to deceive yourself. To embrace this fact is to accept reality and work through it.

Consider Non-Profit Work

The truth is that anyone who has ever worked in ministry or in the non-profit sector has experienced this as well. Regardless of the nature of the organization, there is the need always to balance your focus between impact activities and fundraising (or profit) to pay for the activities.

On one hand, you need to be thinking about what you can do to make the programs more effective. You ask how we can serve more people and meet more needs.

On the other hand, you also need to be thinking about how to add more donors or givers and raise more money. You cannot have the impact through the activities unless there is funding to make those activities possible.

Same True For Christian Business

The same is true in a business where the goal is to be a platform for ministry. Without a healthy and growing business, there is no opportunity for ministry.

As a result, we must manage this constant tension. We cannot eliminate it and we cannot ignore it. We must simply manage it.

So the question is…How do you do it?

Well, there are several options that I will offer.

Managing The Tension

1. Get outside help rather that going it alone. For me, being a member of a C12 group provides me with a group of like-minded business owners who all need the same type of support. We offer each other accountability in this area as well as ideas on how to better manage the constant tension. You could also choose to create your own board of directors or even enlist a life coach. The key is to gain an outside perspective.

2.Develop an inner circle of leadership within your company. Having other like-minded leaders that are walking with you every day can be a great source of support and ideas. They can warn you quickly when they sense something is out of balance. They know your company best and will have the same goals.

3. Create a personal life plan with a weekly review. While this is a solo activity, it is one that has gone far in helping me stay balanced over this tension. The weekly review helps me to get a 10,000 ft. view of where I have been and where my energy has been allocated. Any imbalances are quickly evident and correctable.

Have you recognized this tension in your life or business?

How do you manage it?

What do you need to do differently?

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  • Having worked in the “business” world both corporately and in a small family business environment, spent recent years in the public sector teaching, and served as a pastor, I can certainly see the tension of balancing ministry and meeting the profit needs or income needs of any enterprise, whether business, school, ministry or church. I believe the question or tension is found in the focus. The truth is, no matter which arena we are in it seems “bigger is better”! I remember a rule in most budgets: They always seem to fall short of the expectations they were constructed upon. Thus, do we budget to the vision or do we adjust the vision to the reality of the budget (income)? How do we measure success – by how much we do or how big we grow, or by how we are best able to do what we do? Churches, ministries, school systems, governments, businesses (big and small), and even families struggle with that tension. I believe, how we define success is how we respond to the tension of success!

    Getting older allows for more reflection, and your posts do stir the thoughts. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the insight, Coach. I think you are right about size and scope being part of the picture. I am not of the opinion that bigger is always better, but I also think we must remember that God is much bigger than any budget we can create. I think we need to prayerfully press on, trusting in His guidance.

  • Hi Chris nice site. I found it through a google alert I have setup to find other belivers blogging about Christian Business. Keep up the good work.

    • Great to have you Amos! I hope you find it helpful and subscribe.

      Let me know if you have any suggestions.


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