If you’ve read the About page, you know I feel one of the greatest challenges of being a Christian in the marketplace is the feeling of separation. The feeling of being the only Christian in a crowded business world. Even surrounded by members of a church, we often feel isolated because the others are not business people. One of Satan’s greatest weapons he uses against us is to make us feel apart from other believers and convincing us we are the only person with the struggles we are facing. For those who have had the misfortune to see a coyote kill a lamb, his first tactic is get it separated from the flock.
Developing relationships with believers who are in similar life situations is extremely beneficial. As Christian businessmen and women, it is important to not only surround ourselves with other believers, but those who are involved in business. These Christians can provide support and encouragement in a way that non-business believers could never provide.
Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Several years ago, as I struggled to balance my faith in the business world, I was blessed to have been introduced to the International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen ( or IFCB). This organization is a group of believers in business. These men come from all backgrounds; painters, CEOs, doctors, software developers, oil drillers, insurance salesmen… There are no political parties, no denominations and no hidden agendas. The only mission of the IFCB is to strengthen, encourage and disciple Christian businessmen.
There are several venues used by the IFCB. In my city, there is a weekly luncheon designed for fellowship and testimonies. There is another training luncheon held once a month for the young businessmen, where prominent business leaders share their lessons on Christian leadership.
However, the most common venue is the Roundtable. Most of the roundtables are held at breakfast. During the roundtables, there is time for fellowship where we get to build relationships with other businessmen in the city. This is followed by a discussion held over a particular leadership or business topic, led by the group facilitator. Finally, the roundtable closes with prayer requests and prayer.
So many things happen in these roundtables over time that it’s almost impossible to capture in one post. Here are a few of the things that happened to me over the past two years from the IFCB roundtables.
-Developed wonderful relationships with men from all walks of business. I am not a “networker” but I have a tremendous network of believers from numerous businesses.
-Established mentor relationships with a few of the men. Over the past few years, some of these men have become like second fathers to me, providing me wise counsel on business and my personal life. I am also becoming a mentor to a few of the younger men.
-At one roundtable, I brought up an issue I was struggling with at work. The facilitator stuffed the prepared lesson back into the folder and for the next 45 minutes, these men went around the table, asking me questions to get to the root of the problem and then providing advice that was invaluable. In fact, this has happened several times as the men love reaching out and helping the other members. It is like having a table of business consultants overhaul your problem.
-The prayer and support is amazing. When struggles arise, these are men of prayer who actively pray for each other. And beyond prayer, they offer support where they can. When I’ve been challenged in my business, I have been prayed over, encouraged and checked up on (Yep- they even swung by the office to see how I was doing.)
-I’ve been inspired by what some of these men do for Christ on the own time. Several of the men have their own mission beyond their jobs. It was through one of these connections that I met a man who is the CEO of a non-profit mission organization. Not only has he become a great friend, a role model and a mentor, but through his encouragement, I took a mission trip to Istanbul that literally changed my life.
Wow. I could go on.
Needless to say, the International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen is not the only organization of its type. There are several others out there. The IFCB is the only one that I am involved with. I would encourage you to seek out such an organization and, beyond what you volunteer in church, get involved.
If you would like to see if there is an IFCB chapter in your area, check out the International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen website.
If there are no IFCB chapters in your area and no comparable organizations, maybe it’s time in your life to step up and lead. I would be thrilled to help you get an IFCB roundtable started in your town. Send me an email and we can talk.
Regardless of what venue or organization, do yourself a blessing and get involved. The relationships, learning, encouragement and support can absolutely change your life and change your business.