(17) You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” (18) But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:17,18, NIV)   

In a past issue of the Financial Post, business writer Rick Spence addressed the question: “What specific personality traits are most crucial to succeeding in business?”  Spence identifies 7 elements:

  1. Character and Integrity: Your word must be your bond.  Trust is the true currency of business.
  2. Market Knowledge: Know your industry and your market inside out.
  3. Social Skills: The need to communicate well with others, influence and motivate them and evaluate them and their suitability to meet your business needs.
  4. Commitment to Innovation: Always be looking to offer something new and different; strive constantly to do things better, smarter and cheaper.
  5. Organizational Skills: Be able to get stuff done on time and be able to help others do so too.
  6. Instinctual leadership: Essentially, leadership is the ability to get employees, customers and other stakeholders to buy into your vision or dream, usually by consistently demonstrating that you are looking out for their interests.
  7. Financial Skills:  At minimum, you need to be able to read a P&L statement and talk intelligently with accountants and lenders.  More importantly, every day you will have to understand contracts, terms, margins, and discounts and follow the key metrics that demonstrate your company’s health and progress.

There are many lists out there that identify the crucial elements of the successful business person.  Spence’s list is a good one and most members of Corpath would see his 7 elements as a good structural starting point for our goal of “pursuing excellence in business.”  However, I would suggest it misses the crucial biblical teaching of our passage this morning which may be summed up by the term, “Humility.”   Humility is the crucial element for the kingdom business leader’s success.  We all know business leaders who have succumbed to the conceit of believing that their companies would not be successful without their power, their strength, their knowledge or their presence.  We all have followed the stories of these business leaders who believe in their own invincibility, and how their pride leads to their downfall.  Jim Collins in chapter one of his book, How the Mighty Fall, actually sees hubris and pride of leadership as the first stage in the decline of once-mighty companies.  In Collin’s Good to Great, he lists humility as a crucial characteristic of the “Level 5” leaders who take their companies to long-term success.

Reflect today upon your own attitudes.  At times, do you secretly begin to slide into the belief that your strength, knowledge and power are the crucial elements of business success?

We are all vulnerable to sliding, over time, into this hubris.  This reflection involves a balance.  One does not have to be ashamed of or downplay genuine talents that you have.  Balance involves having gratitude for the genuine gifts of leadership that God has given to you to employ in the marketplace.  But tempering that with the humble recognition that it is God who ultimately provides success.  I encourage you to regularly pray this prayer:

“Lord thank you for giving me the ability to produce wealth, please confirm your covenant in my life to guide me, provide for me and to bless me as I make you Lord of all that I am and do.”

REFLECTION:  At next Forum meeting discuss how you can collectively guard against the slide into the human conceit of believing that YOU ALONE are the key to business success.


© John Wiseman – Corpath – www.corpath.ca

Rick Spence, Financial Post March 05, 2013