The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Spanish group Evangelicals in Economy and Business organises conference for business leaders. Meeting regularly with fellow believers is “vitally important”, says experienced businessman Peter Briscoe.
“The Bible has much to say about dealing with people and money, innovation and creativity, decision-making and leadership”, believes Peter Briscoe, a former executive of a high-tech company.
He will be one of the speakers of a conference organised by the Spanish group Evangelicals in Economy and Business (Evangélicos en Economía y Empresa, Tres-e).
They bring together people whose desire is to live the professional life according to “biblical values” and see their workplace as their “mission field”.
“Getting to know other Christian professionals who go through similar situations gives a new perspective and helps to discern ways to address certain challenges”, explains Zulima Sáenz, member of the Tres-e committee.
A wide variety of professionals - such as people working in engineering, human resources, finances or self-employed workers - are active members of the group.
After 6 years of local training, national conferences and production of materials, the group is now organising its first Conference for Executives and Business Leaders (12-14 May, Barcelona).
“The perspectives and needs of executives and business leaders are frequently very specific”, says Sáenz. “Certain topics are addressed from another angle”.
Such a conference is important because “we do realise that executives and business leaders have positions that are very visible in the business field, and their testimony has a great impact both inside and outside of their organisation”.
Evangelical Focus asked Peter Briscoe, one of the guest speakers at the Barcelona conference, about the relationship between the Bible and leadership in business.
Question. Why is it important for business people to spend time with other Christians to think about what the Bible says about their job?
Answer. It is vitally important for leaders in business to meet together with fellow believers for mutual encouragement, guidance, support, and to find God’s direction for their organization... A business leader is faced with multiple decisions almost every day. Many decisions will be taken together with staff or managers, but there are many types of decisions for which it is not practical or possible to discuss with others in the same company. Outside help and guidance can be of great help.
When I was leading a high-tech company in the field of human spaceflight, we called together a team of business owners to advise me on major decisions. I had lots of tough decisions to make!
The people I met with were not high paid consultants but Christians leading their own business who wanted to meet to discuss dilemma’s and tough problems in a confidential manner with each other. We searched the scriptures to see if the Bible could shed any light on these problems and prayed together for God's revelation and guidance. There were eight of us meeting monthly for a half day of talks, prayer and study on practical business problems. Between the eight of us, we had almost 200 years of practical business experience. We supported each other with our time and experience because we wanted to grow as disciples of Jesus and to glorify God with our businesses. There was not one problem which was brought to the table, which someone had not previously encountered! That person was able to give a testimony on how the problem was solved, or which mistakes they had made.
This help, advice and support was worth so much to me as a business leader, and even saved me lots of money by avoiding some mistakes and pitfalls.
The Bible has so much to say about dealing with people and money, innovation and creativity, decision-making and leadership. It is a wonderful, dynamic resource for building a business which will shine as a light and testimony to God in a sometimes dark and tough marketplace. We need not go it alone in business as God has also given us fellow Christians to help us!
Q. At the Barcelona conference, you will talk about loneliness in leadership. Why is this an issue?
A. Isolation is one of the Christian’s greatest enemies. Leading to feelings of loneliness, isolation opens a door for depression, negative feelings, lack of focus and affects performance.
As an entrepreneur, you are on your own and nobody supports you because it’s hard for them to see what you see and feel the excitement that you feel at the critical stages. This is especially true if you run your small business from home. It can also be true for people working in large companies who can be isolated as a result of neglect or poor performance.
Loneliness when travelling opens us up for temptations and can often lead to uncharacteristic and undesirable behaviour.
We are created as social beings and need to feel connected, supported and loved. In our ultra-connected world of social media we have lots of quick contacts but very few friends.
A person can be alone without being lonely, which implies feelings of loss or alienation. And vice versa: a person may be with others, and paradoxically, experience deep feelings of loneliness if involved in a relationship with someone who doesn’t understand or accept your essential nature
Who can we turn to for support, encouragement and understanding? How can we remain strong in an environment which seems to be against us? How can we turn a negative feeling such a loneliness into a strength with which to cope with life’s challenges?
So if we’re out there on our own in our business or career either literally, mentally or emotionally, what can do to create community around us and feel supported? How can we change isolation into true community?
Q. Some weeks ago the World Economic Forum had its latest meeting in Davos. What do Christians have to say about these type of global meetings?
A. I was last at the Davos conference almost 20 years ago, where, for some years, we held small meetings with Christian entrepreneurs and leaders to share our Christian thoughts on economic issues. Then these meetings were banned because of the religious content.
It is important that Christians should have a strong voice in economic issues because we believe that God has the best interest of people at heart and wants them to live prosperous and generous lives in safety, security and peace.
The Bible gives us revelation on God’s heart concerning our economy and economic principles of the Kingdom of God can be applied worldwide.
To this end, I am one of the initiators of the European Economic Summit (see more) which is held every two years. This is a gathering of Christians in politics, economy and business which proposes Christian solutions to not only European but also to global issues like human trafficking, poverty, corruption and employment.
We, as believers, have a responsibility to warn governments about debt which is spiralling out of control and damaging the future of our children; about poverty which takes away human dignity and about greed which steals from honest workers.
We must stand up and tell the world about God’s love for people and the ways in which the global Church is equipped with the Bible and the Holy Spirit to transform local societies.