Off we went to the Faith in Business conference in Ridley Hall knowing full well we would meet extraordinary businesspeople; businessmen and women who are changing the world. We were not disappointed to hear a host of conference speakers tell us about their journeys to success, their struggles and how amidst the thick and thin, they held on to their faith beliefs. In fact, they didn’t just hold on to them, they implemented their faith beliefs into their decision making, their mission statements, their responses to rivals, the way they treat employees, the nurturing culture they are creating in their offices and the integrity they inject into business dealings. The thing that strikes me is that not one of these businesspeople is thinking about “converting people”, “evangelising”, “saving people from their sins” and so on. They are merely living out their Christian principles in the workplace.
When I was a child growing up in the church, I often thought (and perhaps was even taught) that being a good Christian in the workplace meant being a good testimony for others. This essentially meant being an exemplar of behaviour, trying to be helpful and working hard. In a way, going to church on Sunday was the expression of faith and the rest of the week was about studies or work.
Now I see that being a Christian in the workplace is much more than that. Firstly, it isn’t true that you need to be in full time church ministry to be doing God’s work. Secondly, our workplace is our ministry. We spend most of our adult life in the office, so how can we confine our Christian beliefs to the few hours spent at church on Sunday? It must be that the working week is our mission field. We have countless opportunities to live out our faith at work: helping colleagues in need, creating an office culture that nurtures and builds, making deals with integrity, removing exploitation of workers in the office and in the supply chain, creating innovative solutions to the world’s problems and undertaking socially worthy projects. I have come across many Christian businesspeople who are doing just that. They are creating innovative solutions to the world’s problems that no one else will touch. Here are two such businessesmen who spoke at the Faith in Business conference:
Richard Leftley left a very successful career in the City with the idea that something had to be done to protect poor people in developing countries. He noticed that when the poor get ill, they immediately lose their little income and it pushes them further into poverty. His idea was that if they could be insured, they would be protected. How do you insure 4 billion people, many of whom live in rural, unaccessible areas? How do you fund such a thing? Richard came up with lots of innovative solutions. It wasn’t always easy to break down barriers, to earn trust, to get funding. It has taken Richard 15 years of sheer determination, blood, sweat and tears to get to this point of success. He and his family have made tremendous sacrifices to follow his calling but they were armed with the belief that God was on his side. Today his international organisation insures just under 55 million people across the world with offices in Asia & Africa. They have removed many barriers that stop the poor from being insured. They have created an innovative, low barrier way to insure the poor using digitalised technology and to pay out claims with minimal administration and burden on the policy holder. They are living out Jesus’ teaching to help the poor, through business. His social impact on the world is simply unmeasurable.
For more details, look at https://microensure.com/
2. Fairbanking Foundation
We’ve all witnessed the devastating effects on the global economy of the greed of our money markets. Dodgy lending practices, unfair bank charges, complicated financial products, speculative financial trading and bank collapses needing government bailouts. It is safe to say that our banking industry needs a clean up. The regulator, the Financial Services Authority, was insufficient to avoid our 2008 financial crash. Who knows if the Financial Conduct Authority will be any better? Against this backdrop, emerges the Fairbanking Foundation, founded by Anthony Elliott OBE.
Anthony left a successful banking career in the City and is spearheading this Foundation to clean up the industry. The Foundation reviews & reports on financial products and banking practices, with a view to changing bad ones into fair ones that benefit the consumer. He’s introduced the Fairbanking Mark for products that meet these higher ethical standards. He battles with banks and the entire industry to get them to change. This is a long and windy road and it takes a special person to journey down it. Anthony is using his position and knowledge to further God’s kingdom in the workplace, specifically to make this world a fairer place for all. He doesn’t openly say he’s a Christian and he isn’t looking to convert people into Christianity. He is simply living out his beliefs that God created us all equal, You could say he is demonstrating God’s character as a God of justice.
For more information see http://fairbanking.org.uk
Christians are making a tremendous impact in the business arena across the world. Christians are undertaking projects that no one else would dare consider. I strongly believe that these Christians are undertaking such ground-breaking projects because of a firm set of convictions, a solid sense of mission in life and the best business asset of all: God as the CEO.
Trustee, Ministry at Work
Managing Director, Little Trove