Exhortation: Go out and change the face of business!
By Fr. Herb Schneider, S.J.
NAC33 ILOILO, Day 1, Apr 11, 2013
In his exhortation during NAC33, Iloilo, Fr Herb shared some insights about BCBP’s calling to go out into the marketplace and make disciples for Christ. This is A CALL TO ACTION AND A MUST READ FOR ALL BCBP MEMBERS.
Good afternoon to all of you. And Happy 33rd Anniversary to all of us. I am very, very happy because today or this year I am celebrating my 33rd year with the BCBP.
I want to share with you some insights about our double theme for this year’s anniversary, ”Go I am with you” and “Change the Face of Business”. I want to begin this way because this year is the year of faith and the year of new evangelization. The whole church all over the world is focusing on proclaiming the gospel and recalling that Jesus Christ called disciples precisely in order to work with him to proclaim that the kingdom is near. To call people to a change of heart and to bring them into a new relationship with Godand for God to give them the great gift of life in all its fullness is what faith and new evangelization is all about.
Just as Jesus called the twelve and the other disciples to proclaim the gospel, so in 1980 the BCBP was called into existence precisely in order to proclaim the gospel in the marketplace and to the professions.
As business people we know that one of the most important things is delegation. But delegating a task to someone else is not sufficient; together with the delegation we have to give that person the authority to make decisions. We have to give them first the resources that he or she needs to do the job – like financial, material and personnel resources.
Jesus knows that also. In the gospel when he sends his disciple out on mission to proclaim the nearness of the kingdom, to call people to repentance, he gives them a share in his own divine power. And when the disciples come back they say, we not only proclaimed the kingdom, but we were able to heal those who were sick and we were able to drive out evil spirits. In other words they proclaimed the kingdom in power, anointed with the Spirit of Jesus.
When you come to the very end of the gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus says, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go and make disciples of all the nations and behold I am with you till the end of time.”
Now, my brothers and sisters. when Jesus called the BCBP into existence, he also promised us the power of his Spirit in order for us to do the task. So we are not sending out BCBP members to the marketplace and the professions to do the proclamation in their own power, but in the power of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have no excuse for not evangelizing because Jesus is going with us and is giving us the power, the wisdom, the courage and everything we need to speak his word effectively to people in business.
What does this mean to us? If a Brotherhood chapter, or any Brotherhood group no longer evangelizes, it equivalently loses the purpose for its existence. Or, if we proclaim the gospel effectively to people who are no longer in business, who are retired, we are no longer doing our job, because people who are no longer in the marketplace cannot change the marketplace, they cannot win the marketplace for Christ — which is the reason for our existence.
And so, for me it’s good news, that we are called out with the power of Jesus Christ and not with our own strength in order to proclaim the gospel. We can be confident that our word will bring about a change, our word will be powerful to bring people to Jesus for them to be forgiven and to be filled with life. We don’t have to do it alone.
But it’s also sort of a warning because if we don’t go out to evangelize anymore or we are content with the people, the members we have, then we lose the reason for our existence plus we lose the reason for receiving the empowerment of the spirit because the Spirit is given to us to enable us to evangelize.
Now some people sometimes say ‘our place is small, there’s nobody anymore to evangelize’. I want to suggest something for you if that thought comes into your mind. Walk down the main business street of your town, and look at the stores, the banks and the business establishmentsand ask yourself: Is the owner of that business, is the manager of that business — are they members of the BCBP? And if everybody is a member of the BCBP, God bless you, you’ve done your job. But if they’re not, that’s the target for your work. Go out in the power of God’s Spirit and win that marketplace for Christ. And don’t stop till you can say every one of these business owners is a member of the BCBP, or a disciple of the Lord Jesus, or renewed in his life.
That’s the first thing I want to say, we don’t do it alone, we are sent out to evangelize in the power of God’s Spirit, and therefore we can do so joyfully. We can do it courageously in faith and with the confidence that the Lord will win the victory – if we offer ourselves to Him.
Then I ask myself, “Change the Face of Business”. What does that mean, what are we supposed to do? Let me ask you: is it sufficient for someone to just give his life to the Lord and accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior? I think all of us would say no. Because once you give your life to Christ, you have to begin to look at all of life through the eyes of Jesus. You have to check all your relationships and ask yourself if that is the way Jesus would relate in that situation. You have to be to others another Christ.
Jesus made God visible and God is love. God does not manipulate. God is not self interested. God gives himself totally to others. If we want to follow Jesus as our Lord, then we have, little by little through the power of His Spirit, to become people who love the way God loved, and this includes even loving our enemies.
So I want to suggest a very simple way by which we can Change the Face of Business — whether we are a Sari Sari store owner, or manager of an international company, or whether we may be just a simple employee. What I want to suggest is, that henceforth we make all our business decisions for the benefit of all the stakeholders in that business.
Remember, the stakeholders are not just the investors who give the money. The stakeholder is not just you as an employee of the business. The stakeholders are not just the customers or your suppliers. The stakeholders are also your workforce.
When you make a business plan for the coming year, check your plan, does your plan benefit all the stakeholders? Does your plan benefit your investors, benefit your management team, benefit your owners, benefit your employees? If you say “yes it benefits the management team but it doesn’t benefit the rest of the rank and file” then that’s a bad business decision. It doesn’t change the face of business but disfigures it.
What Jesus wants is a Change of Paradigm, a change in our thinking, a change of our values not just for ourselves, not just for money, but for everyone, so that everyone will benefit.
Let me give you an example. If your hire people in your business only for five months, then let them go and hire a new batch so that you won’t have permanent employees and you never have to pay benefits and you can get away with the salaries of casuals, obviously you make more money so you can sell cheaper. But is that a decision that has the benefit of these stakeholders in mind? No, because the families of these people who have only their jobs for five months do not benefit.
And so if you wanted to change that, you would have to change the employment policy, you make less money, but you benefit those who also contribute to the success of your business. The same thing is true, if you cut corners in manufacturing so that your products fall apart after a very short time. Cutting corners will make more money for you, but you surely do not bless your customers. Since it does not benefit your customers it is a bad business decision. It disfigures the face of business; it does not change the Face of Business into the features of Christ.
Our theme proclaims loud and clear: we are men and women who have changed our value system in such a way that we work together with others, so that all those who have a stake in our business or in our professions may be blessed and may share in the benefits in that venture.
We make a commitment as members of the Brotherhood that in our action groups we will so relate to one another, so encourage one another, so lead one another, that all of us, more and more change our paradigm so that all our decisions eventually will be for the benefit of all those who have a stake in these particular business ventures or the professions. If we do that consistently, we will do our job of not only winning people in the marketplace for Christ but winning the marketplace itself for the Lord – because business will be done according to the values of the kingdom of Christ and of God, not according to the prince of this world.
And it is my hope, that as we move to the 34th year and to the 35th year and to the 40th and 50th and so forth, the Brotherhood would not only grow in numbers but in its power to evangelize and to transform the evangelized into men and women who have a generous heart. BCBP men and women must be those who give their gifts and their talents to influence and transform the worldly face of business into the holy face of Christ. Thus, our business ventures will become a source of blessing for all those who work together with us for the development of our country and of this world.
Thank you very much. God bless the BCBP!