Articles of Faith: Faith Heroes in the Marketplace

Bible Burning

Have you ever wondered to what extent leaders are able to integrate their faith in the market today? When you think about news headlines, it seems like Biblical values are under attack from nearly every direction, especially in the marketplace.

Questions of Biblical Proportion

 In 2011, I set out to answer these questions:

  • Have Christian leaders bought into the argument that faith doesn’t belong in the marketplace?
  • Or, are they afraid to let their light shine?
  • Are there faith heroes in the marketplace today; men and women who boldly embrace their faith, living for God, and looking to the God of all wisdom and knowledge to meet the challenges of a challenging, competitive marketplace?

I interviewed nearly 80 leaders across the U.S. 68% of them were small business owners, senior executives, or CEO’s. They ranged in age from 22 to 93.

I asked them questions like these:

‘How do you integrate faith and vocation in the marketplace’

‘How does your faith intersect with strategic thinking?’

I was pleasantly surprised. And in some cases shocked at what I found! These men and women take their faith seriously; it permeates who they are in the marketplace. They absolutely depend on God to navigate marketplace pitfalls.

Turning to God for Help

Take Fred Bills, for example, CEO of Nelson Wood Shims, a leading manufacturer of wood shims. Fred was facing intense competition from China.

Fred turned to God and asked others to pray, including employees.

He engaged employees in strategic thinking and encouraged them to consider any idea.

This is what transpired:

  • One of his employees was hunting and noticed a particular species of tree in abundance.
  • This employee brought some wood back, experimented with it, and found that it made excellent wood shims.
  • Fred learned that the largest forest of this species of tree was within 100 miles.
  • Fred was able to invest in developing facilities to leverage production of shims using this species.

He credits God for leading them to this solution.

Giving it All to God

Four companies particularly impressed me, so I visited them:

Correct Craft in Orlando

Correct Craft produces world-class ski boats. Factory walls were graced with large boat-sized posters with pictures of their boats and the caption ‘We build boats to the glory of God’. My host was the company’s ambassador Ralph Meloon, who is a former CEO and Chairman of the Board.

Ralph said, “We exist to glorify God and we build boats to pay the expenses.”

Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City

David Green, Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, has 500 stores in 42 states. When God put it on his heart to close stores on Sunday, he lost $100 million. Last year, they gave more than half of their company profits to ministries around the world. Inside the corporate lobby is a flat screen TV on the wall that flashes pictures from around the world reflecting the impact the company is having.

Jasco Products in Oklahoma City

Steve Trice, CEO of Jasco Products, offers many opportunities for employees to attend God-centered classes to help with their finances, strengthen their marriages, and help them raise their children.

He also supports them in getting involved in their community in different ways.

Hawaiian Falls Waterparks in Dallas

Wet summers in Dallas caused David Busch, CEO of Hawaiian Falls Waterparks, to go belly up once and to the brink a second time, but God led him through the difficult times. Today, they are building new water parks in Waco, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada.

These and others may not be heroes as our society defines heroes, but in my mind, they are heroes of the faith.

  • They trust God daily for wisdom and guidance.
  • They walk the talk.
  • And it isn’t always easy.

Inspired to Write

I was so inspired by the many men and women I interviewed. I am confident you will be too. I anticipate publishing a book later this year with their stories entitled, Bold Leadership: Biblical Principles for Marketplace Impact.

The practical tips and stories of these faith heroes will inspire, provide guidance, and encourage you to integrate your faith with who you are as a leader in the marketplace.

My vision is that the marketplace will be transformed as Christians truly integrate their faith with who they are as leaders in the marketplace.

Are you a faith hero in the marketplace? How do you integrate your faith with your role in the marketplace? I would love to hear your thoughts, challenges, and triumphs!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Dr. Merlin Switzer is Managing Partner at Switzer Associates
He helps clients with improving Leadership, Leading Change & Team Development
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