If we want to make America great again, we must start to care about its people again. And there's no better place to start than with the small-business owners of America.
Small businesses form the backbone of America's economy. Of the 28 million businesses in America, research shows that 22 million are small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Their work holds up the arms of America.
Conventional wisdom says that businesses exist to make money. But business leaders who integrate biblical principles into the workplace learn that their companies exist for greater purposes—to honor God, create wealth and support the community through Christian service. That's a mission statement with eternal objectives.
Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established." When we see ourselves as stewards committed to a greater purpose than ourselves, lives are changed.
The Ritz-Carlton, the very first world-class resort, serves as a great example of what can result when you focus on excellence and servant leadership principles. Both the company and this nation can thrive. As founding president and COO of the exclusive hotel chain, Horst Schulze's guiding principle was, "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen," which became the hotel motto and led to its overwhelming success. It has since become the textbook for many in the hospitality business.
There are many ways to serve the millions of Americans struggling with poverty and other problems. One sure way is to equip and encourage Christian business owners to integrate their faith at work, giving people a hope and a future through the marketplace.
Some say that America's military and economy make it great. In our opinion, business leaders called to serve others more than themselves make America great. These are our true warriors on the front lines of fighting poverty.
If you worry about decaying American values or fear our nation has lost a heart for its people, you should know that a country cannot prosper without the basic principles of stewardship underpinning it. No nation can thrive with an inward, selfish focus.
God owns everything, and we are stewards of what He has entrusted to us. We are to use our earthly resources for His glory, not ours.
Many Christians don't have an accurate concept of stewardship. When we hear the word, most of us think about the program at church where we are asked to increase our contributions to the budget. That is a very narrow view.
In his book, The Steward, John Haggai writes, "Stewardship is the practice of systematic and proportionate giving of time, abilities, material possessions ... and all God's gifts to us ... based on the conviction that these are a trust from God, to be used in His service, for the benefit of all mankind in grateful acknowledgement of Christ's redeeming love."
Essentially, we are merely managers of God's possessions. So it is not the wallet that makes a man or woman strong; it's the heart. This collective heart will make America great again.
Terence Chatmon, a successful senior executive in corporate America, served in leadership roles with several Fortune 500 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Citibank and Coca-Cola. He is now the president and CEO of the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International (FCCI.org), a network of executive leaders spanning more than 100 countries. FCCI uses training conferences, personal relationships and a rich library or resources to equip and encourage leaders to see their companies and careers as powerful tools for transformational change. Terence is also the author of Do Your Children Believe? Becoming Intentional about your Family's Faith and Spiritual Legacy.
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