This talk by Bro Jourdan Polotan, BCBP Cebu, was delivered at the Men’s Breakout Forum during the BCBP’s 30th National Anniversary Celebration in Davao, April 24.

The BCBP has a clearly defined mission to bring Christ into the marketplace, and win the marketplace for Christ. It is not the easiest thing to do. In fact, it sometimes seems an impossible goal to attain. Where do we start?

For those who actually practice their one-on-one with their members/action group leaders, one question is very familiar – how is your prayer time? It is a common question, but it must be answered seriously and honestly.

For us to win the marketplace, we must build on a very good foundation, the best foundation. That is, the person of Jesus Christ. Many times, we forget that God we serve and follow is living, loving and ever-present. Our Christian faith is not founded on a philosophy or belief system or mathematical and scientific principles. It is not founded on rules and regulations, activities or meetings. It is first and foremost founded on the person of Jesus. We must strive to build and strengthen that relationship with the one person for whom we want to win the marketplace – Jesus.

There are many places for us to encounter Christ. Yet, one of the most invaluable places to encounter Him is in our personal prayer time. It is in personal prayer that we develop our sense of listening to the voice of Christ. Having our daily conversations with Christ in personal prayer helps us to become attune to how His voice sounds. Does anyone remember ancient days before cellphones and caller I.D.s? If it is a frequent caller, someone we love and regularly communicate with, we immediately recognize their voice just from one word, “hello”.

It is only when we constantly commune with Christ that we begin to recognize how He sounds, how He looks and how we works. How will we know it is already Him we encounter in the marketplace when we don’t how his voice sounds, His ways, His Modus operandi? It is in becoming familiar with His voice, His face, His ways that we recognize Him in the situations of our businesses and professions.

It has become cliché to hear the question “What would Jesus do?” Yet, it is impossible to find the true answer to that question in different situations in our businesses and professions if we have not been encountering Christ on a day-to-day basis. How can we win the marketplace for Christ if we do not know Christ?

There have been, and will be, many situations in my life, wherein I wouldn’t know exactly what to do. Towards the end of my college years, I seriously considered becoming a Jesuit. It took 3 semesters of praying, discernment and working with a spiritual director for me to determine that God was not calling me to the priesthood. It was not in the study of what it takes to become a Jesuit, that I made the decision. It was in quiet, private and personal prayer that I began to see where God was leading me. It was not in the accumulation of knowledge that I discerned God’s will. Rather, it was in the experience of His presence, the recognition of His voice that I found His leading.

From 1993 to 2001, I worked and lived in Indonesia. Try living a Catholic life in a predominantly Muslim country! We have it sooo easy here in the Philippines. There’s a church within walking distance from wherever we stand in the Philippines. Or within a few minutes car ride. There are so many Christian communities with varied missions and callings, shapes, size and form.

For some Filipino Catholics in Indonesia, it was easy to fall out of the church. There was no peer pressure, it wasn’t convenient, and almost everybody else around you was not Catholic. There are no masses in the shopping mall. As a matter of fact, a fanatic might bomb your church! Yet for some, and for my wife and I, the eight years we spent there was like a long spiritual retreat. Why? Because we kept our prayer time and community! Prayer time was something that was literally written in our daily schedules, and it allowed God’s grace to flow into our lives.

We can humbly say, that by God’s grace, we became better Catholics in a muslim country. Yet if we look around us in Philippine society today, we wonder if all the cheating, lying, corruption, crime and even selfishness and apathy are the marks of a Christian country.

It was a long but not a difficult decision to leave the company I was working for 8 years. The job, pay and perks were great! But I knew I was no longer an agent of change in the company. In prayer, I was sure that the direction the company was taking would not allow me to live out my Christian faith. I aired my views and opinions, but no one listened. Should I just shut up and continue enjoying the pay and perks?

It was only in personal prayer that I found the clear answer. In Matthew 10: 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that town. It was time for me to leave.

In 2002, I started my own company as a paper agency representing various paper mills from around the world. Everyone makes the same opening line of treating customers and suppliers as partners, yet when push comes to shove, it is to each man for himself. Do anything just to make the sale. Misrepresent Products. It’s not lying, it’s withholding the truth. Wine and dine the purchasing manager. Allow him to overprice or undervalue.

I have constantly found comfort and solace in the words of Christ written in Matthew 10:14. There have been situations where I could have made a ton of money from deals that required me to take short cuts or make misrepresentations. But I decided to walk away and shake the dust off my feet.

We face so many situations in our businesses and professions. If we are to win the marketplace for Christ we must know Christ first. I am of the belief that it is our collective individual spiritual lives that makes us an effective instrument of God in the marketplace. If we are not building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we cannot bring Him into the marketplace much less win it for Him.

PRACTICAL ADVICE — START A PRAYER JOURNAL

How do we build or strengthen our prayer time? Here is a very practical advice. Put it in writing. Start a prayer journal.

Look at our businesses and professions. Everything and anything important is in writing. Contracts, Memos, Purchase Orders, Invoices, Delivery Receipts, Financial Statements, Mission and Vision statements. Imagine for a moment if we filed our Income Taxes by going to the BIR and dictating our financial statements to a revenue officer, who doesn’t take notes.

In one of our businesses, we refused to pay for deliveries apparently made by a supplier. He kept billing us for items he said he delivered, and started charging us interests/penalties for late payments. When we asked him to show proof that the deliveries were made, he later realized that his people were not issuing delivery receipts for our people to sign! He apologized, cancelled the penalties, and got paid.

Closer to home. What if nobody bothered to write down the teachings of Christ? Or how God revealed Himself to the Jews? What if Paul’s letters were never put in writing? Thank God, somebody put it in writing.

For the past 8 years that I have my own business, I’ve always looked at the incoming year with concern and anxiety. Each year, I seem to be able to come with more reasons, both real and imagined, to be anxious about how things will go in the coming year. When I look at my prayer journal, it is actually laughable how it is the same year after year. And how by the second or third quarter, the Lord proves my anxieties to be unfounded. After the 5th year of being on my own, I have stopped worrying. Now, I am on the 8th year of running my paper trading business. Praise God.

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