Slapping fish

Jesus fish pinkI slapped on the little fish at the bottom of my web site without much thought.  My friend, a business strategist, asked me if I wanted to ‘limit’ myself to only Christian customers.  Taken aback, I wondered if this was truly limiting my prospect pool or if I would feel more limited by having to consider whether I must hide or downplay my faith depending on the client.  Do I celebrate my spirituality, or do I admit to it, as if it were a dirty little secret?

These are tough decisions for many of us trying to make it on our own.  As startups, we try to be all things to all people in hoping that we may generate enough interest in our business to be able to eat the next week.  We need clients – any clients – to survive.  How important is it that they know what we believe or participate in on our own time?

I naturally ooze enthusiasm and passion – most often as I speak about the Lord, but I’m pretty exited about life in general.  That said, I also do business-related sessions where God doesn’t come up at all.  Therein lies the ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ conundrum on slapping that fish.  I’ve actually caught myself saying things like, “I’m a Christian but I also do corporate training.”

“But?”  As if the two are mutually exclusive!  I can be a Christian and do corporate training without any conflicts.  You can be a Christian and a mechanic, designer, gardener, lawyer or coffee shop owner without any conflicts, as well.  A conflict only arises when we agree to do something that goes against our faith.  As ethical business owners, that should never occur.  In that sense, being a Christian simply strengthens and clarifies the definition of good business.

So, how does my decision to slap that fish on my website truly affect my ability to get gigs?  The more probing question I asked myself was, am I willing to offer up the possibility for failure in exchange for the freedom to express my beliefs?  In other words, will my integrity work against my profitability?

It may.  But I can certainly say that if my profitability ever works against my integrity, then I am definitely in the wrong business.

You are in control of your business decisions no matter how hungry you may be, and you may choose to decline business with someone who would ask you to be something you are not.  This means you must know who, exactly, you are outside of your business, and make sure you consistently bring that person back into your business with you.  Even when you are not wearing your “I heart Jesus” t-shirt or giving a sermon, your faith and integrity will shine through in all that you do.  You will then attract the type of customers that are better for both you and your bottom line.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Whether you edit books or install cable, you are ultimately serving the Lord – even for those customers who don’t (yet) know Him.

As a Christian entrepreneur, how do you integrate your faith into your business – or do you?  Do you slap a Jesus fish onto the bottom of your web site or your business cards?  Do you have a cross or some other paraphernalia as part of your logo or brand? Do you celebrate your faith openly, choose to only mention it if it comes up, or do you hide it?

I would love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences.

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