Earlier this morning, I opened the FUEL conference, a meeting of 100 or so business leaders who draw upon their Christian faith and ethical commitments as they lead the organizations they steward. Thank you to Linda Maris and National Christian Foundation|Wisconsin for persevering through COVID to put this together! Here are the opening comments I shared:
We are given a story about John the Baptist in Luke's gospel. Soldiers, tax collectors, and people in general ask him what they should do now that they repented of their sins and received God's cleansing forgiveness. Their experience with forgiveness had been symbolized by baptism in the Jordan River, but what now?
John's answer is to return to their lives and live as people marked by generosity, justice, and peace. Their very work was to be a signpost of God's merciful and peace-building Kingdom.
John's shows he had been paying attention to the soul songs of his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, who lived and served at the heart of a synagogue community. The life of a good Hebrew loved God, their children and grandchildren, their neighbors, and even foreigners. Why? Because they once were also vulnerable strangers and slaves who had received God's mercy.
- No thumbs on the scales when weighing out grain for a customer!
- No failure to seek your customer or neighbor's fair advantage, even if they fail to consider yours!
- No overlooking the opportunity to serve widow, orphan, refugee, or prisoner.
- No taking credit for any wealth that accumulates under your responsible stewardship. Instead, all glory to God is accompanied by your opportunity to be more generous than ever.
Were we to ask John such a question in our day, would his answer be any different? Might he not say this remarkable and integrity-laden way of living within a greedy, angry, self-absorbed, and technologically-addled society marks the Kingdom of God more than ever? Might he not call us to be those who stabilize society, care for the Commons with which we all live? Might he not appeal to us to be those who wipe tears from eyes and embrace the unloved? Might he not call us to bring a patience to the marketplace that is rooted in eternity - even in the face of being reviled for our seeming naïveté and weakness?
May these next moments inspire you.
May any discomfort you feel become a doorway to wiser leadership.
And, may you leave here full of return on the investment of time and money you made to be here.
If you are an experienced executive leader who is moving toward developing the future of your business in your marketplace, we would love to talk to you.