It’s not about having money. It’s about using money. Simple? Yes. Easy? No.
Businesses make money. It’s why they exist. No profit…no business. And the same is true for “non-profits.” No money at the end of the month means no organization the next month. So let’s stop vilifying profit and ask the real question: how would God have us use it?
Everyone has heard the old adage: Love people. Use money. And of course we know that most of us get it backwards at times and end up loving money and using people. So, keeping it in the right order…
1. Use profits to reinvest in the technology of the business.
Technology is obsolete by the time you get used to using it. Witness the iPhone–hard to believe, but that worldchanging bit of tech arrived on the scene only 7 years ago. I now have the iPhone 6. About one per year. On a larger scale, there is equipment to buy, machinery to upgrade, communications technology to enhance, software to expand. You name it. In the days of the Bible this may have been sharpening the plow or buying an extra ox; today, it’s computers and CRM and websites. And if you don’t reinvest some of the profits in technology your competition will, and you will find yourself in a world of hurt.
2. Use profits to increase the earnings of employees.
I am not suggesting a charitable or entitlement approach to wages. I am calling for the reinvestment of your profit in the people who helped you earn it through a fair and generous pay and benefit program. The basic Kingdom principle here is the “Golden Rule.” Treat your employees as you would like to be treated. Fair wage. Fair benefits. Fair bonuses. Treat people right and they will carry you to heights you never dreamed of.
3. Use profits to expand the business.
Why not buy a new building or buy another company or launch a new product line or open in another city…or even use your profits to open a branch office or design shop or call center or factory in another country? One of the tenets of Business as Mission is the opportunity that comes when a business that is built on Biblical principles and focused on a Kingdom purpose decides to open in an unreached or least reached area.
4. Use profits to build liquid reserves.
We all know the rainy day is coming. Whether it’s a disruptive technology that suddenly renders your service useless or the Great Recession or a massive breakdown of your most expensive machine, you need cash or reserve assets that can be quickly converted to cash (the definition of “liquid”). Heed this. Businesses don’t fail because they don’t make a profit; they fail because they run out of cash. If you have a “Kingdom” aversion to putting some cash aside, I suggest you reread Proverbs.
5. Use profits to better your community.
I like to ask company owners and employees this question: if we were gone tomorrow would our community care? Would they even notice? What good are we doing for the community in which we operate? Don’t overlook the local school system or the rescue mission or the fire department or the parks. What a great testimony it is when a company actually serves the people who support them every day.
6. Use profits to support Kingdom charities.
Some may wonder why I didn’t start with this. Several reasons. One is that much giving is guilt based and a way to “cleanse” or “baptize” the profits. Since that’s not necessary, I didn’t want to go there. Second is that “ministries” tend to expect this, and I find that offensive. Third because you can “give” yourself right out of business if you don’t have a healthy view of profit and the Kingdom. Having said all that…be generous. Give where it will make a difference.
Business exists to make a profit. Peter Drucker said that and I agree with him. Once the profit is made, then it falls to you and me to seek God’s wisdom in the best use of it. It’s a lot more than dropping a big check in the offering plate.