Characteristics of a BAM Practitioner

Peter Shaukat interviewed by Jo Plummer, Editor of The BAM Review

We have developed an interesting questionnaire for potential BAM practitioners which get to some of these criteria. Here are ten of the top ranking criteria in our experience:

  1. Well-rounded thinking
    We look for a genuine, thoughtful understanding of work as ministry, with the experience and capacity to grapple with ethical issues, able to live with a certain degree of ambiguity – i.e. they are not black and white in their thinking.
  1. Servant leaders
    BAM practitioners, fundamentally, are called by God to a ministry of exercising servant-leadership in the marketplace – the arena which is, in our time, the most influential, agenda-setting nexus of human activity.  Understanding how to be an agent of redemption and transformation in such a context – and bringing some tangible experience to the table in doing so – is indispensable.
  1. Devotional life
    We seek out those with a demonstrated ability to nurture their own devotional life through the Word and prayer.  A close walk with God, and taking responsibility for one’s spiritual formation both individually and within the context of community is essential not only to survival, but to “thrival”, a unique mixture of faithfulness and fruitfulness to the greater glory of God.
  1. High risk-tolerance
    We look for a genuine, high risk-tolerance as they live out an incarnational presence on the ground.  In a day when the culture of the age is to insulate, isolate and insure ourselves against suffering and harm, the counter-culture of the Kingdom is to carry our cross daily – this is not just a “spiritual” thing, but touches upon the daily conduct of business.
  1. Self-awareness in terms of personal attributes
    We are looking for those that are aware of, and humbly able to recognise their combination of skills, talents, experience (linking formal education with real life experience) and spiritual giftings and practice, since both are needed to do BAM well.
  1. Emotional intelligence
    We look for those who are relationally adept and have good EQ (emotional quotient), regardless of what their Myers-Briggs, DISC, or other psychometric categories might suggest.  These two characteristics (temperament shaped by fruitful formation through abiding in the Vine) are non-negotiable in cross-cultural settings.
  1. Openness and intentionality towards missional and cultural preparation
    We are working with BAM companies in the majority Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist world – so this shapes the Christ-centred, missiological perspective, passions and preparedness of any potential candidate. We look for adequate, appropriate preparation for the spiritual and cultural context into which they are planning to proceed, combined with a curious learner’s heart for in situ observation and assimilation. Language and culture acquisition are pretty fundamental realities to doing business well, making friends and influencing people. (This needs to be balanced in many situations with the realisation that English may in fact be the lingua franca, so not always is the standard language acquisition template appropriate.) Similarly, understanding the deep worldview of the particular religious context is essential – although, again, some traditional mission approaches prepare in categories that the business world finds irrelevant, or missing altogether. Keep in mind that the BAMer’s cultural contexts may quite likely include the potential diversity of other expats who might be involved in the business, and not just ‘the nationals’.
  1. Team-oriented
    We also look for a balanced view of strategic collaboration and a communitarian, team-oriented approach to mission (and business, for that matter). This balanced view should render them open to the concept of being sent and resourced in a variety of ways for wholistic impact, and genuinely engaged in accountable relationships both ‘at home’ and ‘in the field’.
  1. Realistic financial expectations
    We are working with BAM companies in generally less-affluent contexts, so this shapes the financial compensation realities and therefore the expectations of a potential candidate. We look for realistic expectations about and appropriate personal circumstances in regards to finance. We strongly recommend that, generally, the candidate should understand and be prepared to work with the Holy Spirit in assembling the full package of necessary and sufficient financial resourcing – all of which, whatever the source, comes from Him. This can include that which God provides through like-minded Christians, and/or, through their own financial means already or in other ways provided by God.
  1. Longer term availability
    We look at sufficient availability. Unless it is a very specific task oriented role which might indeed be shorter term, most BAM companies would be looking for a minimum of six months; one year is better, and within two years real value can be added to the company or it becomes mutually clear that it’s not a good ongoing fit. Ideally though there would be a commitment for more than two years since ‘longer is generally preferred’. This is both because companies need good, stable talent, and because transformational impact and potential comes with deeper relationships.

Then depending on the individual’s marital and family status, consideration needs to be given to a whole range of spiritual and practical issues. In practical terms, age, ethnicity, gender, or even health may come into play as a criteria. These are important to process as we assess reality in which they will find themselves attempting effective BAM.

These would be the key ones, with others being relevant of course.


Peter Shaukat
 has lived and worked in a professional and business capacity for over 30 years throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and North America and is a pioneer in the business as mission movement. He currently consults on business as mission all over the world and is the CEO of a global investment fund for BAM enterprise in the Arab world and Asia.

First published in BAM Review http://businessasmission.com/blog/

Business According to a Global Dictionary of Theology

So what is an article on business doing in a global dictionary of theology?** What place does business have in the life and witness of the Body of Christ worldwide? Why should businesspeople take an interest in theology and its practical outworking as they ply their trade? These questions go to the heart of a persistent struggle waged by the church throughout history.

  1. Business in a global context

Economic issues rank high on the agenda for much of the world. For good or ill, commercial priorities and the behavior of business leaders are shaping global events, in some notable cases, far beyond the capacity of traditional centers of influence, such as governments, to control or match. In many countries unemployment is rampant; even the solutions to other apparently unrelated issues, such as HIV/AIDS or traffic in human beings, involve a business oriented response. The church must choose between responses of ambivalence, antagonism, or positive engagement with business in its holistic understanding of the gospel.

  1. Foundational theological concepts

Theological reflection on business is part of a larger set of issues including debate over distinctions between sacred and secular, the nature of work and ministry, and, in the missiological arena the nature and role of so-called “tentmaking”, of which business is generally taken to be a subset. An important overarching concept is the prophetic call to love justice, practice kindness, and walk humbly with God (Mic 6. 8). The vexing issue of profit is addressed in scripture. Many of Jesus’ own teachings use business examples, often favourably, to illustrate ultimate truth.

  • The Person of God

It might be said that God is the original entrepreneur. Beginning with an idea, and creating that which was good in all respects, God reveals His Person, and shows us an essential outlook on life (Gen. 1.1 – 2.3). Furthermore, the central business activity of providing meaningful and sustainable employment is a demonstration of justice and kindness, grounded in the character of God.

  • The Power of the Gospel

Alongside of proclamation is the need to demonstrate the transforming power of the gospel to a skeptical world. From the “thief who steals no more” (Eph. 4. 28) to the executive who “provides what is right and fair” (Col. 4.1) modeling successful business, based on God’s truth and prayerfully led by the Spirit, is a tangible and irrefutable witness.

  • The Priesthood of all Believers

The “ecclesia”, the people of God, are found on the shop floor, in factories, and other work settings. Especially in countries where suspicion and hostility to the gospel is strong, the most natural and credible opportunities to evangelize and make disciples are often found among employees, suppliers and customers of businesses led by committed Christians.

  • The Practice of Stewardship

In contrast to conventional wisdom, the Christian affirms that business does not exist to maximize shareholder wealth, but by the permission of God and to be a channel of blessing to others. This leads to a number of considerations concerning the proper direction and use of all that God gives us, including the gifts of time and talent represented by employees, the earth’s resources, the very products and services produced, and the profit which accrues. These concerns are foremost in the thinking of the faithful steward.

  1. Historical perspectives

Beginning with the story of Abraham, including the account of the worthy woman of Prov. 31, and culminating with the record of Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18), entrepreneurs hold an important place in the unfolding of God’s purposes. In the Middle Ages, the Nestorians carried the gospel along the Silk Road as they conducted business on East-West trade routes. The influence of the Moravians and Basel entrepreneur missionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries was far-reaching. The Norwegian entrepreneur, Hans Nielsen Hague (1771 – 1824) represents a dramatic example of the power of business in the hands of a committed Christian to literally transform an entire society. Far from being on the fringes of God’s global purposes, business has often played a central role. With this historical perspective in mind, the challenge of our day is in many respects to recover and implement afresh this exciting heritage.

  1. Business as a multidisciplinary exercise

For the church worldwide to effectively embrace business as a vocation for its membership the collaboration of those with of a wide range of skills and spiritual gifts will be required. For example, because the practice of business takes place in a cultural context, anthropological perspectives are necessary. Similarly, the contribution of ethicists, economists, environmentalists, historians, journalists, lawyers, missiologists, sociologists, and others will add value to the more classic “business” competencies of finance, product development, marketing, and human resources. Chief among the spiritual gifts required will be courageous prophets, envisioned pastors, and authoritative teachers, if those saints who are called to a ministry of business are to accomplish this with Christ-honouring accountability, affirmative equipping, and adequate resourcing for the task.

  1. Current trends

There is a global movement of the Spirit in connection with business. Virtually every country in the world and every part of the Body of Christ is being touched. Perhaps most significantly, individual believers with business skills are being awakened to the potential involvement they can have in furthering the Kingdom of God in the business arena. In 2005, a gathering of over seventy representatives from every continent met in connection with the Lausanne Consultation in Thailand to focus on business as a missional activity for the church. Emerging across the world in at least a half dozen regions, many of which are economically poor and where the church is in a small minority, are consultations of entrepreneurs, business professionals and others engaged in the issues of business for the greater glory of God. Spanning the globe are Christian business ministries to executives and employees with a calling to the higher purposes of God. All this represents a genuine sign to the people of God, and to the world, of the Kingdom in our midst.

Peter Shaukat and Mats Tunehag

** Global Dictionary of Theology. Editied by Dyrness & Kärkkäinen. IVP 2008

Bibliography

Cleveland, Paul, Gregory Gronbacher, Gary Quinlivan, and Michel Therrien, A Catholic Response to Economic Globalization: Applications of Catholic Social Teaching, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Acton Institute, 2001)

Danker, William, Profit for the Lord, (Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf & Stock, 2002, originally published by Eerdmans, 1971)

Grudem, Wayne, Business for the Glory of God: The Bibles Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003).

Hill, Dr. Alexander, Just Business – Christian Ethics for the Marketplace, (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997).

Myers, Bryant, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1999).

Rundle, Steve, and Tom Steffen, Great Commission Companies: The Emerging Role of Business in Missions, (Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2003).

Schlossberg, Herbert, Ronald J. Sider and Vinay Samuel, Eds, Christianity and Economics in the Post-Cold War Era, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994).

Tunehag, Mats; McGee, Wayne; Plummer, Josie (editors), Business as Mission. Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 59. (www.lausanne.org) 2004