(Editor’s note: Troy Walling is an alumni of the Journey and the owner of a business. We asked him to write about his experience of integrating his spiritual life with his role as a business owner. We hope you find his perspective helpful. We did! We look forward to more posts written by Troy from the perspective of one who seeks the God of the Kingdom at work.)
The Kingdom of God includes your business.
Earth-shattering news, I know. But, how many who own businesses, or have a role of leadership in our careers, daily go to work with this in mind? If we are gut-level honest with ourselves, most would agree that, though we may have started our companies or careers because of a passion to do what we love and to make a difference, our businesses have become an entity unto themselves.
For many business owners, what was once an outward gift of our heart to the world has now become the world to us and requires all of our heart.
Most corporations are de facto mini-kingdoms. Like governmental kingdoms, these mini-kingdoms have “laws” that govern (company handbook, quarterly reports, etc.), a driving force to sustain itself through growth (unit sales, marketing and profitability), expectations that “subjects” (employees) will be subservient to the mission, and they have a king (CEO). What would it look like to see a corporation move from a mini-kingdom to a place where the Kingdom of God breaks through–a Kingdom Outpost?
In Luke 13:18-19, Jesus describes the Kingdom of God “like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree…” This, along with many others verses, indicates that Jesus considered the Kingdom of God to be rather earthy, not something separate or distant and future. The Kingdom is here now and it is expanding.
In Luke 13:20-21, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to “leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Jesus implies that the Kingdom of God is here now hidden, right under our very noses if we would just look. The Kingdom is doing its work and expanding unseen through the flour of our everyday lives(?). Jesus is saying His Kingdom is hidden within the very things of this world and one day will be finished and visible for all to see.
This “hidden in plain sight” aspect of the Kingdom can be seen in how the early followers of Jesus used the existing structures of the day, mainly dinner symposiums (the Lord ’s Supper), to gather, create community and to worship God. It was through these structures that people were given the opportunity to switch allegiances from the Roman Empire to Jesus and His Kingdom. Much like the leaven Jesus spoke about, the Kingdom of God spread subversively through the very social structures of the day.
Likewise, the Kingdom of God is embedding and expanding through the structures of our day, transforming people and claiming territory. A business leader who would like to transform her business into a Kingdom Outpost will first deal with her own kingship and cede it to Christ. People are seen as His and not as tools to reach a goal; but rather, the goal itself. The “laws” or policies of the corporation can then be formed with people in mind to create portals in which the Kingdom can be experienced, even unwittingly, in the lives of the people in the workplace. And the leader herself moves from giving marching orders to receiving marching orders from the King and pointing in that direction.
As a leader, you don’t have to be king. The pressure is off. You simply need to tend to your corporate garden and water the seed that is already there waiting to grow into a sturdy tree.