If we or those around us define meaningful impact in the traditional way then we are limited to a small handful of areas. The main traditional definition is conversions. We are constantly asked, “How many people have come to Christ as a result of your ministry?” or “How many people have believed through your business in Boola Boola Land?” Having equated the Great Commission with soul winning it is not surprising that the Christian public wants to know the answer to this question.
We can fall victim to discouragement, misunderstanding, accusations of time wasting and so forth if we continue to define success in the same old tradition way. Stated bluntly, at some point in your career in BAM you will begin asking yourself, “Where are the converts? Where are the churches? Where are the Bible studies?” If your answers to those questions is minimal then you will feel like a failure and, to make matters worse, your network of friends will gather around you as Job’s counselors to pour on the guilt and condemnation.
What we need is to rethink our definition of success, of what true kingdom impact looks like.
“Now hold on, Mike,” you protest. “Didn’t you just say that these are not the metrics we need to use?” Actually, what I said was these are not the only metrics we need to consider. It is impossible to read the New Testament, especially the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and not see the premium value God places on proclaiming the individual gospel and seeing men and women brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Luke’s version of the Great Commission is entirely about preaching the Good News: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations…” (Luke 24:46-7, italics mine) Mark is even more explicit: And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15, italics mine)
One of my favorite characters from Scripture is Barnabas. His very name means “Son of Encouragement” and that is just what he did. One new believer Barnabas encouraged was named Saul; we know how that story ended.
Whether you are a domestic BAMMER or working in an Indonesian company, you will likely be connected to believers in the workplace who lack the knowledge or the courage to truly live out their faith in the kinds of ways we’ve been studying. What a difference it makes when someone stands for Jesus in the right way. Others begin to come out of the woodwork, to find their voice, to embrace their calling.
One person who I delight to remember is Judy. Judy was a believer when she first came to our team but a very distant one. Her life was crumbling along with her marriage. As she worked God worked. She began to get serious about Christ and His Word. Judy’s marriage sadly fell apart but she later remarried an amazing Christian and together they are a brilliant light in their church, their company and the lives of many.
You might have to stretch a bit for this one at first but remember this: there is no aspect of life over which Jesus is not Master and about which He does not care. If we understand and embrace that there is no sacred-secular dichotomy in God’s Kingdom and that “the will of God...is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2) regardless of category it falls in, then we can see that any number of things may in fact be Kingdom Impact.
A great sermon preached in the power of the Holy Spirit leads to Kingdom Outcomes. So does the successful translation of a book of the Bible into a tribal language. Agreed? Of course! Then how about the a successful ocular implant that enables a deaf child to hear his mother’s voice? How about a drug that cures River Blindness or Ebola? Or a pollution reducing technology for the power industry? Or the completion of a new office building? Or...you cannot draw a line can you? Any activity done for Jesus’ sake down to a cup of cold water (Matthew 10:42) is a legitimate Kingdom Activity and can lead to legitimate Kingdom Results.
According to a recent Gallup study, a staggering percentage of American workers are totally disengaged from their work and another staggering number are actively looking for another job. As I often tell audiences, if you don’t love your job then quit--either quit not loving it or quit the job. For your own sake, don’t stay in a job where your heart is disconnected.
I believe that one of the most exciting Kingdom Outcomes we can achieve, regardless of our corporate status, is an engaged workforce, a motivated team. Many years ago, the Chairman of the Board, who happened to be my boss, called me into his office to fuss at me because, as he put it, “Why does everyone want to transfer into your division?” I couldn’t keep from laughing when I said, “The question you should be asking me why don’t they want to stay in their current division?” We had built a solid team with a clear vision, shared values, deep concern for each other and our customers and we had fun! And it was true. People were lined up seeking a transfer in. I don’t blame them.
Societal Impact (Better Life)
Our company employees over 100,000 people a week on temporary assignments. In many cases they are unskilled, entry level or trying to get back into the workforce for some reason or another. In the course of the year we will employ over 500,000 such workers for at least a week, many of whom go on to get full time jobs with our clients. We rally around a meaningful mantra: Getting Good Jobs for Good People. It gives meaning to our work every day.
There is more, though. We have discovered that every worker we come in contact with represents, on average, a family of 3. That means that we touch in some way approximately 400,000 people per week--men women and children and that we touch about a half million people each year.
The question we constantly ask is “What is the impact of that touch?” Is it filled with respect? Is it filled with appreciation? Are we fighting to get them a safe job, a job that suits them, a job with a future? Are we pushing to get better wages? Better treatment? Out of these questions we have formulated what we refer to as “Better Life.” Our belief is that we can help each of our temporary employees and their families take a step or two toward a better, richer, fuller life.
As long as we take a myopic view of what life in the Kingdom of God looks like we will see very limited Kingdom Outcomes. However, the moment we are reoriented to what God’s reign really looks like as it is revealed in Scripture (instead of our evangelical traditions) we will be like Elisha’s servant at Dothan. Our eyes will be opened to see all kinds of wonderful things God is doing in and through us and we will see them everywhere!