Torch, Winter 1993

our customers. It keeps us accountable for our actions to each other. Accountability causes us to perform to expectations. A person who owns his or her o_wn business has significant opportumty to cheat...on taxes, on the way he or she reports. But such dishonesty_ is_ a horrible testimony for a Christian. Some of the inside people in a company have to know what is going on if you are not handling the accounting records properly. The moment you depart from what is . right, your testimony is null and v01d. If we are going to be stewards- and we look at our business as a stewardship responsibility for the Lord- we cannot bring discredit to the Lord. The principle of stewardship applies to all areas of life-how a salesman reports his expenses, how a parent regulates her child's television viewing, or how a pastor makes use of his study time. How does the concert of stewardship affec your dailJ approach to business. Can you communicate that philosophy ~o o~hers 1n the organ1zat1on~ Stewardship sounds simple, and if you keep focused it does not get complicated. Do not become . possessive. Realize that everythin~ you have is a result of God entrustmg you with a responsibility. As you trust Him more and more, He increases the scope of your responsibility. ~yo~ maintain your focus that God is usmg you to accomplish His will, then your biggest task is trying to understand how those resources are to be used for His purpose. . . We exhibit those charactenstics by trusting the employees to do a good job and be honest in their daily work, and by rewarding them when they do an outstanding job, both in recognition and financially. Our . interest in people outside the busme_ss day reflects to our employees what is important. When an employee has a difficulty that is nonbusiness-related, does he bring his problems to us or keep them away from us? That is a litmus test for any manager. 8 Torch So one way you can build a corporate culture is liy building into the lives of the people who are a part of the company? Yes, I would agree with that. A Christian business couple, such as Joanna and I, have constant opportunities to help pe?ple o~ ~ . personal basis-discussm_g. pnonties in life, personal needs, spmtual needs, and educational goals for their families and children. We have tried to build a farnily– oriented business. That goes beyond the people in the company who are actually related to us, such as our two sons. It means treating people with kindness and compassion, looking upon them as having worth and value. Joanna and I interview key employees before hiring. We share our personal beliefs and company goals to be a testimony of what God has done in our lives. We listen to the applicant's responses as to his values and make sure that there is no real conflict. You need not be a company president to take advantage of opportunities to attend to personal needs of individuals, whether they be spiritual or physical needs. That is true for every Christian, regardless of where God has placed you. How are your corporate values expressed to people outside the company? Our company has had an unusual growth pattern because we have been a company of our word. If we have made a commitment to a customer, we have carried through on that commitment. That has set us apart, and given us a strong measure of success. We set extremely high standards of business ethics. Since we're in a small industry and are in a leadership role, I believe we have . actually affected favorably the entire industry. Do you believe God wants you to plan strategically in your business? Yes. In fact, as I am speaking to you we have our top management people meeting to discuss our strategic plans and place a focus on long-term planning. Last fall we discussed short– term planning. While we plan thoroughly as though the entire success of the business depended on our plan, we rejoice in God's refinement or revisions that are different than what we've planned. Has God ever changed your plans? From the very beginning! We had been successful in asking Christian friends to participate as investors. When we made our offer to the owner, he agreed to sell, but he delayed for "We set extremely high standards of business ethics." about six months. During that time the funds we had sought were no longer available. That was not a part of our plan. As a result of the delay, we were able to buy the company without borrowing from investors. We had trusted God and had done what we thought was right, but God's timing changed things. He led us to take some risks and carry out the purchase without having investors involved. We have seen God change our plans numerous times. Quite frankly, if you view a Christian's role in business as a trustee, then when God is through using you in a particular area, it really does not upset your world. So we are just waiting to see how God will continue or discontinue using us in this fashion.