Years ago, my husband and I met a friendly couple in our church who invited us to a party. As I put my coat away in their bedroom, I noticed charts everywhere tacked to the walls--proof the couple was gung-ho about a particular business venture.
"I think I know why they had us over," I whispered to my husband. He couldn't believe they would invite us just to introduce us to their business, and he smirked when they mentioned nothing of it that evening.
A week later, we received a phone call from the couple, imploring us to become a part of their amazing business. We declined. They never invited us over again.
Several years later, I sat at a church luncheon next to a woman I hadn't met. She asked, "What's your passion in life?"
Though I hadn't expressed it publicly, I felt God nudging me to say, "I want to be a writer."
She smiled. "Really? Do you know what one of my passions is? To help develop and train new writers!" The result? This professor and published author mentored me. Her servant's heart changed my professional life forever.
Two truths contradict each other when business and Jesus collide: To win in the business world, you have to market yourself, your product, your wares. Yet Jesus didn't come to earth to be served. He came to serve others without expectation of reciprocation. How do we reconcile marketing that appears self-serving with Jesus' admonition to serve others? By exploring fear and abundance.
Our friends' pressure to join their venture unmasked their fear. Worrying about making enough money, they leveraged each new relationship in the church to meet that goal--and then moved on to another church. But the author, who struggled financially, freely gave her expertise and time to someone who couldn't necessarily benefit her. She gave from a place of God's abundance, from her belief in an upside-down kingdom where eternal rewards resulted from simple obedience.
Fear will cause some people to exploit others, but recognizing God's abundance in the here and now, as well as the not-yet, compels us to bless others with our service.
In fact, forsaking fear and embracing God's abundance helps us serve others in four ways.
1) God's abundance replaces insecurity with confidence.
John wrote, "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:21-22). When we're insecure, we tend to see people as pawns for financial gain. This attitude does not please God. But when we start obeying him in every aspect of our lives, we have the kind of confidence we need to view customers as fellow image-bearers who deserve to be treated the way we ourselves love to be treated. Our settled confidence in God's goodness is contagious, spilling over into the way we treat people.
2) God's abundance takes focus off yourself and places it on those you serve, making you both attentive and savvy.
Placing yourself in the customers' shoes gives you keen insight into their needs, their habits, their frustrations. When in those shoes, you create better products, services, and technologies. You've heard it before, but customer service is ultimately about understanding customers and meeting their felt needs.
3) Abundance gives you the long view.
Making an immediate sale is tempered by cultivating life-long loyalty. When you go out of your way to serve people, you connect with them. Even if they never buy anything from you, your service will be a gift to them.
4) God's abundance puts marketing in perspective.
It's not that marketing or selling is evil, but like anything, it can consume us, particularly in this faltering economy. If we know we are ultimately provided for, marketing becomes more about enhancing someone's life, generating great service, and providing information or a product that benefits the customer. Having abundance actually enhances the marketing experience.
The couple that invited us to their party are a blip in our life story, but the author who gave of her time sacrificially is one of my best friends today. You can bet I buy every book she writes. She served me from the abundance of her heart. As a secondary result, she earned a lifelong customer. She typified Jesus' words, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). Serving as Jesus did will produce surprising rewards and keep our hearts in the right place when we market.
Originally published at TheHighCalling.org as "Abundance and Service." Reprinted with permission, as TheHighCalling.org graciously invited our use of material for the Faith@Work Consultation.
1/1/2000 5:00:00 AM