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April 3, 2020

Kingdom Businesses

Morris Ruddick • Money Management
Whenever God is on the move, people will start popularizing terms in attempts to define the new dimensions of what the Spirit of the Lord is releasing. Groups will shape terms to fit their own horizons. Well-intentioned responses tend to lend themselves to past perspectives and superficial renderings of the new God-given dimension before it has been given the opportunity to fully bloom. The result, unfortunately, is more of the same with a new twist rather than facilitating the entrance of a new paradigm.

Whenever God is on the move, people will start popularizing terms in attempts to define the new dimensions of what the Spirit of the Lord is releasing.  Groups will shape terms to fit their own horizons.  Well-intentioned responses tend to lend themselves to past perspectives and superficial renderings of the new God-given dimension before it has been given the opportunity to fully bloom.  The result, unfortunately, is more of the same with a new twist rather than facilitating the entrance of a new paradigm. 


The wealth transfer is a case in point.  Notions of the wealth transfer have ranged from broad waves of prosperity among believers to a class of money-making spiritual superstars.  The assumption for each is that the resulting mega-contributions will suddenly trigger the release of all the capital needed to complete the spread of the Gospel.


We are indeed in a time when the wisdom tied to the economic and community dimensions found in God's Word are being released and integrated with the spiritual.  Yet, simultaneously other key and interacting dimensions, such as the Body coming together in unity and into the full knowledge of the Lord, will give shape and focus to the new paradigm.  All that, as we approach the clash of all ages spoken of in Revelations, that provides a big-picture context to the pathway before us. 


The term Kingdom company or Kingdom business is very key to this converging move of God meshing the economic and community with the spiritual.  Unfortunately, like the wealth transfer, it is a term that is being embraced in ways that reduce its strategic significance. 


Far too often "Kingdom company" has been coined to reflect any believer-owned business.  In some cases, it is being employed to describe companies without either customers or a cash flow - with well-meaning owners promoting wonderful visions of their good intentions to support a wide array of worthy ministries.  There's nothing wrong with vision or good intentions; nor do I want to cast aspersion against believer-operated startup companies.  Every believer in business ought to have a role in advancing the Kingdom of God and being a Light in the darkness.  But a Kingdom company involves more.


A Kingdom business involves a calling and cost, a process, a timing, and an impact. 


The Calling and the Cost

The calling for a Kingdom business owner is tied to a throne-room agenda involving the utilization of the business.  Aside from a handful of believer-owned enterprises, like those of Robert LeTourneau and Stanley Tam who established enterprises with 95 percent of profits going into missionary activities, most Kingdom businesses will involve more than being a funnel for large ratios of their revenues.  Discerning the throne-room agenda tied to the calling will require spending significant time in the presence of the Lord.  That means spending significant time in God's Word and in prayer as the Lord progressively unveils the wisdom for the steps needed to turn the vision into reality.


William Danker's 1971 classic, "Profit for the Lord," has recently been brought back into print.  It provides the model of the Moravians who, in the early 1700s, began planting community businesses.  Their business enterprises became the center of community activity, employment and Truth in what was then remote areas ranging from Pennsylvania to Surinam to Africa.  Not to be confused with communal models, or those like the Amish who were fleeing wickedness and establishing self-contained communities, the Moravians led the way in becoming integral contributing leaders of the communities in which they settled.  They fostered the biblical premises of private ownership, a work ethic, opportunity and community responsibility with enterprises that have endured to this day.  They were forerunners in the practical integration and utilization of spiritual, economic and community capital.


Today, initiatives led by a growing number of believers like Bob Horton in Canada, as well as our own God's economy program (see my recently released book "God's Economy, Israel and the Nations") are planting businesses among believers in areas of poverty, persecution and distress.  These new business-owners in turn are taking the scriptural principles and truths, that make their businesses possible, to their employees and neighbors and becoming community builders.


Yet, there is a cost to the calling.  Being entrusted with a Kingdom business will comprise a cost tied to the steps toward the fulfillment of the vision.  The cost is not tied to the bruises or scars resulting from the bottom dropping out in a relationship or a venture gone south that may have been the catalyst to the calling.  Nor is the cost tied to the wakeup call.  There may be a cost tied to the bumps or the wakeup call - but that is not the cost of the calling.


The cost of the Kingdom business calling is in the disciplined obedience required to exercise the dynamic of dominion that paves the way for new paradigms - which in turn involves faithful effort and implementation that takes vision into the realm of reality.  This is a process that cannot be bypassed. 


Yet, overlooking this process seems to be the basis for a statement I've heard on more occasions than I care to recount.  That statement has essentially questioned the "desirability of doing business with select members from within the Body." 


This sad indictment is typically the result of those who are high on vision and short on results, excellence, dependability and the sacrificial work ethic required to overcome obstacles, prevail and become participators in the God-given dynamic of dominion.  I'm not knocking vision - it's a central factor in the equation for a genuine Kingdom business.  But I am big on excellence and on believers paying the cost for what they step out in faith to do.  The standard for any believer in business should be the type of excellence that goes the extra mile and makes the needed sacrifices that honors the Lord. 


The Process

The process will involve two operational believer-owned business categories before a business can be classified as a Kingdom business. It's important to understand each category and to be found faithful during the time of operating in each sphere.  Each is a calling in its own right.  Likewise, it is important to know that it is God who grants promotion and the principles of operating in each sphere are ones that cannot be circumvented.  The first is that of a Christian-in-business.


Christian-in-Business.  This is the category of business that enables the believer to enter a partnership with the Lord, to support his or her family and provide an honest service, trade or product for the customers they serve.  It assumes the business has customers and is cash-flowing!  Otherwise, it is a startup that hasn't yet gotten off the ground. 


A Christian-in-business goes beyond the basics in supporting their local congregation, the poor and afflicted, and other outreaches. It is run with the highest ethical standards and goes the extra mile to nurture the satisfaction needed to keep customers returning. The manner in which the owner or owners operate the business presents a good witness to employees, customers and their congregation.


Christian-Run Business.  The next category of a believer in business is a Christian-run business.  These businesses entail a purpose.  They go beyond the level of being a good witness and making an impact on their employees, customers and congregation. They likewise don't overlook the basics as they serve. 


They reach out. They mobilize and serve.  Christian-run businesses are involved in initiatives that go beyond the sphere of activities defined by their basic business.  The owners are community-oriented and involved.  They are catalysts for positive change.  They give back to the community; and their example is a model that encourages and provides programs that enables their employees to also serve in this way. 


This category of Christian business-operators and owners will be recognized as community builders among believers and non-believers alike.  They are the salt and light of the world that Jesus spoke about (Matthew 5:13, 14). They adhere to the principle outlined in 1 Timothy 6:17, 18:  "Let those who are rich in this world . do good, that they be rich in good works, generous and ready to share." Their good works provide a witness that cannot be denied:  "Conduct yourselves honorably among non-believers, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge."  1 Peter 2:12


A good litmus test for a Christian-in-business is "how do they serve their customers and employees and congregation?"  The litmus test for a Christian-run business is "how is it serving its community?" 


A Kingdom business involves this - and more. For a Kingdom business, the issue is "what impact is it having to advance God's agendas and His Kingdom?"  The issue for the one at the helm of a Kingdom business is never one of ambition, or the need for recognition, position or ownership.  It is a calling - a high calling.  While there is a process involved for those called to operate Kingdom businesses, the telling evidence of presumption is when the zeal and the basics don't line up - and the result is a reputation that causes other believers to want to avoid doing business with them.


The Timing

More often than not, there is a timing factor involved with a throne-room initiative that marks a Kingdom business.  The timing of throne-room initiatives cannot be forced.  Joseph's promotion could only be released by God's intervention.


Joseph was faithful, often beyond levels of normal human endurance, at each stage in his tenure in Egypt. During his time as a slave in Potipher's house and his time in prison, Genesis 39 tells us that Joseph was already God's ambassador whose vision for what was to come was tempered by his willingness to pay the cost of waiting in diligence and faithfulness.  His promotion brought him authority and power.  Yet those attributes were in strong evidence long before his promotion because they came from within: "the Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man, and everyone saw that the Lord was with Joseph and made all that he did to prosper."  Genesis 39:2-4


The Impact

A Kingdom business has a purpose that goes beyond its benevolence and community outreach.


Without skirting the requirements for a Christian-in-business and a Christian-run business, a Kingdom business will be the outworking of the unique calling of the person at its helm.  Foundational to its purpose is to make a unique impact, through its basic business objectives, in advancing the Kingdom of God.  Similarly, impacting the Kingdom will very often involve a legacy that will transcend the generation of which the Kingdom business is a part. 


Kingdom Business

So, what is it, in practical terms, that is the most defining characteristic of a Kingdom business?  That answer is uniquely connected to the Kingdom business owner or owners. 


Yet, as this whole move of God in the marketplace starts coming into focus and gaining momentum - we have those who are debating the issue of whether a purposeful Kingdom initiative involving business is a business or mission enterprise.  It's neither - it's a calling with its own purpose.  God never intended nor does Scripture support the dichotomy between the spiritual and the rest of life for God's people. 


Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - and the principles outlined in Deuteronomy - support the premise of God-centered, entrepreneurial communities.  They support the integration of the spiritual, the economic and community. 


We likewise have those who sense the call and have a vision and sometimes even have a company - who are expending great time and effort on the conference circuit, that perhaps they should be spending on their knees.  That is by no means a disparagement of marketplace conferences.  I recall my first talk on the Joseph Calling almost a decade ago, how it released, encouraged and mobilized those with this calling who never had it articulated in that way.  Groups like the ICCC, Generals International, Global Harvest Ministries and people like Os Hillman, Rich Marshall and Barbara Wentroble are doing an incredible job with the conferences they hold in paving the way for this move of God.


At the other extreme of those searching for direction for their calling are those who have been isolated from recognizing that their calling is tied to a move of God - who simply need to be refreshed and encouraged, as they have been faithful in paving new ground.  There is something about recognizing that they are not alone.  There is something about realizing they are a part of something significant in God's agendas that is both liberating and a means to take the step to the next level.


The Distinguishing Characteristic:  Ten Times Better

Those called to operate Kingdom businesses fit into the category of those I describe in the chapter titled "Kings, Rulers and Leaders," in my "God's Economy" book.  They are modern-day Josephs.


With a calling paralleling that of Joseph the patriarch, today's Josephs are kings - and you can't be a king for the Kingdom if you're driven by soulish issues.  A Kingdom company has got to have a genuinely called Joseph at its helm.  It has to reflect a LOT more than a vision or a nice refined testimony.  It's got to be doing something tangibly for the Kingdom beyond just making monetary contributions.


Joseph and Daniel both excelled in whatever they did - in a way that advanced God's Kingdom while attracting the recognition and promotion from those in the world around them. Daniel 1:20 describes this dynamic for Daniel and his friends: "In all matters of wisdom and understanding, the king found them ten times better than all the astrologers within his realm."


Ten times better - even when confronted with the best minions the devil has to offer - that's the distinguishing criteria for those leading genuine Kingdom enterprises.  It is a measure beyond ability, talent and effort.  It will indeed take a LOT of ability, talent and effort.  It also will take a flow of wisdom from above to navigate the virgin territory where spiritual, community and economic capital merge.


It comes down to a statement I heard as a new believer repeatedly made by my first pastor:  "I can't, but He can."  God can and will - through those He has genuinely called.  But it will involve a balance between the basics and walking on the water for those who are called - and a standard and faithfulness that emerges having seen God's intervention to their lion's den and fiery furnace encounters. It will involve wisdom on the timing of when to move as reflected by God's admonition to Moses in Exodus 14:15:  "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Lift up your staff and divide the sea."


For the ones called as Kingdom business leaders with a standard to be ten times better - the foundation is a vital, interactive prayer life, coupled with the continual washing from God's Word.  Getting the prayer support of others is always important, but it can never replace the ongoing, interactive presence of the Lord in the life of the one called.


David was a kingdom-builder who understood the standard of "ten times better:"  "Lord, You make me wiser than my enemies; I have more understanding than my teachers, for Your Words are my meditation.  I understand more than the ancients, because of Your Word." Psalm 119: 98-100


Pharaoh recognized it in Joseph:  "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?  In as much as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are."  Genesis 41:38


For those called to change the course of nations and build the Kingdom of God through Kingdom enterprises - that's the standard!  For Kingdom business leaders, Deuteronomy 17:18-20 punctuates this high-calling with these words:  "The one who sits on the throne as king, must copy these laws for himself in a book. He must always keep this copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the words of the law. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his people. It will also prevent him from turning away from God's Word in the smallest way."



2005 Copyright Morris Ruddick - mer@strategic-initiatives.org


Morris Ruddick is the author of "The Joseph-Daniel Calling" and "God's Economy, Israel and the Nations," each of which address God's move in the marketplace.  They are available from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other popular outlets.


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The Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) is a team of prophetic intercessors committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis.  For more information check:  www.strategicintercession.org

Visit Faith and Work Resources.com link to the right of this page for more resources from Morris Ruddick.

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