Richard Blackaby Interview: What Are The Challenges For Christian Marketplace Leaders?

Dr. Richard (Rick) J. Goossen, Chairman, ELO interviewed Dr. Richard Blackaby, President, Blackaby Ministries International, on December 21, 2018.  Dr. Blackaby will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming ELO Forum in Winnipeg on April 30th (see his bio HERE)  Dr. Blackaby is the co-author (with his father, Henry) of three books that are particularly relevant to Christian marketplace leaders:  Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville, TN:  B &  H Publishing Group, 2008); God in the Marketplace (Nashville, TN:  B & H Publishing Group, 2008); and Spiritual Leadership (Nashville, TN:  B & H  Publishing Group, 2011).  This is the fifth of a series of blog posts related to Christian entrepreneurs applying their faith in the marketplace based on the interview with Dr. Blackaby. 

You can view the previous blogs below:

Richard Blackaby Interview: Spiritual Disciplines for Christian Entrepreneurs

Richard Blackaby Interview: Christian Entrepreneurs & Risk 

Richard Blackaby Interview: The Meaning of Spiritual Leadership 

Richard Blackaby Interview: Christian Entrepreneurs & Risk 

Richard Blackaby Interview: Biblical Principles for Christian Entrepreneurs 

Richard Blackaby Interview: A Distinctive Biblical Approach to Work?

Richard Blackaby Interview: Spiritual Leadership Versus Leadership 

RG:       What are the biggest challenges for Christian business leaders to be effective in the marketplace?

RB:        I think for Christian business leaders, one is understanding that their ways are not God’s ways.  We keep trying to do God’s work the world’s way.  I think to be effective, we need to be students of God’s ways, of how God does things, and to recognize His voice. 

I think something else that’s difficult for Christian business leaders is that their churches typically don’t equip them.  One of the reasons I’ve spent so much time working with business leaders is because they claim their church has never discipled them.  If you are a successful businessperson your church may put you on the board of elders or the finance committee, and just assume that if you have been successful in business, you must also be successful at being a Christian. The bulk of the training provided by churches is to equip people to serve in the church, not in the business world. So, they’re saying, I’ve never been able to know how to be effective in the business world as a Christian. No one ever taught me how to recognize the Spirit’s prompting in my life or to recognize when I was being tempted to do something the world’s way instead of God’s way.  There are a lot of voices out there in the business world, a lot of whispers saying do this, you’ll make lots of money or you’ll beat your competitors. Tell this white lie and you’ll sell this product.  And they’ve said I’m being bombarded by voices.  My spouse’s voice, my kids’ voices, my VP’s voice—but how do I know which voice I should be heeding, if any?

When you learn to think biblically and to recognize the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you have a  measuring stick to evaluate those voices you keep hearing.  You might conclude: This person is my friend and they say they want what’s best for me, but when I put their advice up against the word of God, they’re asking me to compromise some things God clearly said were wrong. I’m going to use God’s word to measure these voices.  In other cases, I’ve known some really brilliant people who just listened to some really bad advice and it cost them dearly.  I think with the internet and social media, there are more voices out there than there’s ever been before and they are more accessible than ever.  More than ever now, you’ve got to have some way to judge and evaluate all the different voices enticing you to take your business this way or that.


RG:       What are the key relationship principles that Christian business leaders often need to work on?

RB:        There are some wonderful relationship principles in the Bible.  One that God has been speaking to me a lot on lately is the whole issue of blessing.  In Genesis 12, God talks to the businessman Abraham and says, through you, I’m going to bless all the families of the earth.  How do you lead a business so that it blesses its employees and customers?  So much of the world is based on what I can get from my customers or what I can get from my staff. But how do you conduct your business so that everyone who comes in contact with your company goes away blessed?  I’ve had people who have actually taken a cut in pay to work with me and they said it’s not about the money.  When I work with you I feel blessed, I feel uplifted, I enjoy my work and that’s what matters to me even more than adding a few more dollars to my paycheque.

How do you make the people you work with better? I was challenged by a passage in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 where it talks about David. The discussion preceding that is about David’s mighty men.  As a leader, God has challenged me.  Everyone looks at David and says just imagine what I could do if I had a group of mighty men and women working with me!  But the truth is you have to be a mighty man in order to attract mighty men.  I speak to business people who are loners. Or who don’t have any strong leaders around them. Or they have no wise counselors giving them counsel.  Why?  They’ve never cultivated anyone.  They’ve never hired them.  They’re not the kind of person that attracts mighty people.

I love the story in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. Of course, David was the most famous giant killer of his day. Everybody assumed it was impossible to kill a giant but by the time you get to this passage all kinds of people are killing giants.  A bunch of his mighty men are killing giants, even his own nephew is killing a giant.  You think, well what happened?  I thought giant killing was impossible.  Well everybody thought it was until David proved that it wasn’t.  People started hanging around David and before long, you had a whole bunch of giant killers. You couldn’t hang around David for long before you found yourself becoming a mighty man!

So I’ve always asked myself this question: Do the people who work with me become better people?  Do they become mighty men and women because they’re working with me?  Over time, as I’ve built an organization, do I end up with an organization of pygmies or giants?  I want to be the kind of person that people grow when they’re around me. I want people to say that the time they spent working with me was when they grew the most in their entire career. I want head hunters to regularly come looking for my lieutenants because they know that they have all grown under me to become giant killers.

One other relational truth is found in Matthew 10:16.  Jesus is sending out His disciples. He says I want you to be as innocent as doves but wise as serpents.  I think in the business world, that’s a key principle.  You can’t be naïve, but you want to have integrity.  You don’t want to always assume everybody’s out to get you.  You want to treat people gently and kindly, but at the same time be as wise as a serpent. You have to be alert to the dangers out there.  There’s a fine balance.  We tend to lean either too far to the dove side or too far to the serpent side, but to get the right balance in how we relate to people is something the Spirit of God must help us to do.