This is Part 2 in our Relational Influence post. Click here to read Part 1.
Since the creation of man, God’s desire was that His Kingdom reign over all peoples and systems on the earth. With the fall of man and the not-so-grand entrance of sin into the equation, this plan was interrupted. However, it was not destroyed. By studying the Old Testament, we can see threads of the restoration of His Kingdom emerging. The birth of Jesus signaled that God was indeed restoring His Kingdom, and its originally-designed order on the earth!
Available to us are all the benefits of God’s Kingdom on earth – if we are willing to walk by faith and not by sight. Perhaps another way of saying this could be if we are willing to walk by faith and not by the book – the book of typical business and financial how-to’s.
If it’s true that God’s Kingdom is an upside-down Kingdom where things typically work in reverse order, how does that apply in the day-to-day activities of our business?
The central issue impacting our world since the Garden of Eden revolves around authority. Who’s really in charge, and who’s really submitted? Is there Kingdom order, or worldly chaos? Foundational to demonstrating a Kingdom style of leadership in an organization is the understanding that a leader must first be wholly submitted to God.
Despite the Old Testament prophecies declaring otherwise, many Jews during the time of Jesus were convinced the Messiah would come and establish a military-led Kingdom, conquering all known enemies and territories. Jesus indeed conquered THE enemy and his territory, but not through traditional militant means. Instead, He achieved victory, not just for the Jews, but Gentiles as well, through His death and resurrection. Those two things certainly are upside-down, game-changing acts of radical humility.
An Upside-Down Consideration
This conquer or be conquered style is not uncommon for most of us. In the marketplace, it’s easy for business leaders to slip into an unhealthy “conquer all” mode, in which any and all means necessary are employed to conquer the competition, as well as perceived enemies in the marketplace. The upside-down nature of God’s Kingdom calls us to a different posture. Instead of conquering them by our ambition, key strengths, or mere fortitude, what if we used some of those energies to demonstrate care and compassion? What if we really employed an unorthodox approach to demonstrating our sincere love and appreciation to those under our organizational care?
A Kingdom style of leadership displays radical humility and a willingness to make decisions differently. A Kingdom style demonstrates that God is the ultimate Provider, not the marketplace. It also demonstrates that those inside an organization are a higher priority than those outside.
L & R Pallet Company
James and Carine Ruder, owners of L & R Pallet Company in Denver, CO, found themselves in a troubling predicament several years ago. After evaluating their entire customer base, it was evident that the working relationship with three of their largest customers had simply become toxic. The negative behavior demonstrated by these particular customers became a tremendous burden for the L & R team to manage.
As part of his own spiritual growth during that season, James had come to embrace the truth that the Lord truly was his provider. “Those customers who are treating us so poorly are not our source, nor are they our income,” James said. He made a decision to go talk to the three problematic customers and, in a loving way, confront their unacceptable behavior. Upon prepping his own management team for this conversation, many of them were strongly opposed to the idea, bearing in mind that so much of their company’s provision was tied to those specific accounts. Facing the question, “What are you going to do, boss, if you do this and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of business?” His faith-filled response was that the potential financial loss was outweighed by the love he had developed for the managers under his direct care. The people with whom he had direct relational influence were his priority. James embraced the upside-down, relational strategy of the Kingdom.
In the days following, James met with each of the three customers, and kindly fired them! As difficult as this might have been, the positive impact it immediately made on his team was energizing! They undoubtedly knew that their boss had placed a much higher value on them than he did on a sum of money. The upside-down strategy of the Kingdom paved the way for L & R Pallet to experience relational influence at work!
The days and weeks that followed provided some surprising and unpredictable outcomes for those customer relationships. To learn the rest of the story and watch James tell it in his own words, check out the Called to the Marketplace testimonial linked at the bottom of this post.
The Greatest Relational Influence
In John chapter 3, Jesus speaks these powerful words, “…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Because of sin, we cannot SEE the Kingdom, nor truly SEEK the Kingdom unless we are born again – perhaps the most upside-down idea ever presented! The order of God’s Kingdom flows freely through those who are wholly submitted to Him. It is only then that a wild and crazy idea such as firing three of your top customers actually seems like the right thing to do!
A Kingdom style of leadership demonstrated in the marketplace flows from a wholly submitted leader and demonstrates that the people inside the organization are a higher priority than those outside.
- When was the last time you wholly submitted yourself, your family, and your organization to the Lord and His Kingdom? What’s holding you back from doing that right now?
- What challenges, difficulties, or opportunities is your family or organization facing that might be best served by considering a Kingdom-sized, upside-down approach?
May we all seek first the Kingdom and use our relational influence to advance His Kingdom… at work!
*Click HERE to view the Called to the Marketplace testimonial, featuring L & R Pallet Company
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