A business’ value chain is that set of activities that a company performs in order to ensure the delivery of high value goods and services to market.
A hallmark of a Jesus-centered business is that at every turn, care is given to ensure that quality materials are sourced, workmanship meets proven standards and attention to detail are front and center in the way business is done.
Consider the steps involved in running your business: from conceptualization to production, packaging, delivery, marketing, customer service and the inevitable honoring of warranties. How well does your value chain represent your faith? As you review the daily choices and practices that make up your business’ value chain, are there opportunities to more intentionally place Jesus at the center of your activities?
What Is a Jesus-Centered Value Chain?
Business leaders generally optimize their value chain for profitability and a competitive edge. They look for processes that might be added, eliminated, or improved, for the sake of increasing revenue, while operating at lower costs.
As a Christian entrepreneur, you understand the need to increase efficiencies. You must protect the stability of your business. Of course, streamlined processes can also provide better working conditions, employee satisfaction and tighter safety conditions. But when efficiencies and earnings are the only measure of excellence, the rewards are primarily profit driven.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”
So, when you look at your value chain, how could you put justice, mercy, kindness and love at the center of your business practices? What steps are you taking to ensure that your business bears the mark of the One that created meaningful work in the beginning?
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
Putting Faith at the Center of Your Value Chain
Start by listing all the processes involved in your day-to-day business activities. What do you oversee as a leader? List the people you interact with, the activities you and your employees do and what transactions occur at every step of the business cycle.
Submit your list to God in prayer. Then give some thought to the following characteristics of a Christian’s walk in the light of value chain: humility, balance and integrity.
Humility. Smart planning, hard work and a keen eye for business can pay off with big dividends, and financial success is a gift from God to be used wisely. Sincere humility is a rare quality among successful people and a real testament about whom they are crediting with their success. Seeking God’s wisdom in making sound decisions and giving Him credit for our good fortune is a basic Biblical teaching. Approaching negotiations with a true win-win objective, although rarely seen in many high-profile negotiations, is not only a business practice that builds good will for future negotiations, but a scriptural directive.
Balance. Our families are a sacred trust, given to us with the direction to cherish and nurture them, even at our own expense if necessary. It can be an entrepreneur’s biggest challenge to stay focused enough on the business to ensure its health and growth yet focused enough on their family to ensure they know that they hold priority over profits.
Integrity. Conducting business with integrity is when who you say you are and what you stand for are aligned with who you really are, and what you actually do day-to-day when providing your products and services. Many companies say a lot about “‘people first'” or “‘customer service’” but do little about actually loving people or looking after customer needs when it’s inconvenient or expensive to do so.
Think of your value chain as an area where you can put feet to your faith. Ponder these questions as you review the health of your value system:
- How are you ensuring that your products or services continuously meet or exceed industry standards?
- Are you sometimes tempted to shine the light of your success on yourself, your talents or your intelligence? Are you unpretentious, even in the face of accolades or notoriety?
- How are you balancing your desire to maximize profitability in your business, with healthy personal and family rhythms?
- How would people describe the level of your integrity as the leader of your company?
- Do you view your suppliers, contractors, employees and customers as blessings to your business?
- How can you demonstrate real caring for the people you lead and sell to, while maintaining a commitment to creating profit?