As years pass me by, I find a great deal more enjoyment than I would have thought in being an observer. Not in a creepy or weird sort of way, but in a contemplative way. Sometimes when I sit in my favorite coffee shop, I watch the interactions between the barista and a customer. It’s a fascinating dance to be sure. Some customers have no idea what they want or how to order, while others have their order memorized like their favorite passage of scripture. Then there’s the barista, having to deal with it all. For several years the same young person was behind the counter at my local hang out. I was always impressed by the fact that she knew most customers by their order, some even by name. It was comforting to come in on Friday morning and know that my mango green tea smoothie and warmed up coffee cake were waiting for me. Then she left. It’s not the same. Now I have to recite my order every Friday – it’s like being in the movie Groundhog Day. The smoothie is made with the same recipe, the coffee cake comes from the same vendor, but somehow it’s different, it’s not as good. Why? I believe that the major difference in my experiences at the coffee shop is that one barista understood what business she was in while the other is still unsure.
The late Peter Drucker was a management guru. He was so respected that General Motors, General Electric and IBM would spend up to $50,000 a day (this was back in the ‘70’s & ‘80’s) for him to spend time with their senior management. Drucker said that “there are two essential questions that everyone must answer if they are going to succeed.” “What business are you in?” and “How’s business?” Seems simple, but is it?
As the Pastor of Business & Finance of a local church, it became important for me to really think through these questions. After all, we are in the God business aren’t we? Well, not exactly. I see us in the people development business or as the bible refers to it – discipleship (Matthew 28:19). We should be equipping our people to do the work of service (Ephesians 4:12). And not just for “ministry” but equipping them with life skills. Areas like leadership, accountability, conflict resolution, and hospitality, just to name a few, transcend the church world. Now the hard part, how are we doing? If I’m being honest, we’re not as good as we should be by now, but we are working on it. We’re in the process of developing strategies to get people activated in our church and our community based on their passions. We are equipping them to be the parent, child, friend, employee, volunteer, neighbor, or whatever it is they desire to be. For us, knowing the business we are in gives us the clarity to pursue it with passion and direction so we can truthfully assess how we are doing.
So let me ask you what Peter Druker would have asked you, “What business are you in? How’s business?” And I won’t charge you $50,000…