Being a Disciple of Jesus in the Marketplace

This is a Guest Post by Frank Viola, Frank is a friend I met during the last year. He is a prolific writer, and blogs at Beyond Evangelical. Frank is currently offering an online discipleship course that I highly recommend, and you can enroll here. The course closes December 31, so if you are interested you should take a look now.

When I became a Christian in my youth, I had the naive idea that all Christians were loving, honest, and reliable. So I would always seek to hire a Christian if I needed a product or a service.

Business Man Praying

Sadly, my youthful notion of Christian business people was shattered when I realized that virtually every Christian I hired (1) overcharged (2) did a poor job and (3) weren't exactly ethical or honest.

By contrast, the non Christians I hired charged less, did better work, did everything to insure that I was satisfied, and they were more pleasant in general.

Consequently, I raised a standard long ago that I would never hire a Christian to do anything for me. I would instead hire nonbelievers.

There have been a few exceptions, mainly with Christians that I know personally and trust. But these people aren't typical. In fact, they are rarer than hen's teeth!

They are genuine disciples of Christ.

Their hallmark is this: they treat their clients the same way they want to be treated if they were the client.

Ring a bell?

It should. That's Matthew 7:12, and it's the summary statement for how we know a genuine disciple of Christ. They treat everyone the same way they want to be treated in every circumstance.

Strikingly, Jesus said that this one sentence summarizes the entire Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets).

Treating others the same way we want to be treated is the way that God's own life operates. And as Christians, we possess that life.

How do you want to be treated when someone works for you?

You desire honestly, reliability, and great work at a reasonable price. You also desire that the work is fully guaranteed and that you are satisfied with the product or service.

Well, that should be the hallmark of how you treat others when they hire you.

Why do so many Christians not follow this precept in their business practice?

I believe it's because they have been taught to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than by the Tree of Life.

Living by the former is simply being religious. It's trying to do the “right thing” and avoid the “bad thing.” And when we try to do the right thing and avoid the bad, we usually fail. Why? Because we're relying on our own human abilities and resources in “being good.”

Eating from the Tree of Life, however, is learning to live by the very life of Jesus Christ Himself. And the DNA of that life is to treat others the same way we want to be treated in every circumstance.

When we learn to live by Christ rather by our religious nature, being honest, ethical, and walking in love toward others isn't a duty or a chore. It's second nature.

I've spoken a lot about this elsewhere in very practical terms, but I wanted to sketch out the difference in this brief article.

May God raise up countless business men and women who are learning to live by Christ and express His nature in their work, making Matthew 7:12 a visible reality rather than a pious precept.

FRANK VIOLA has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including God's Favorite Place on Earth and From Eternity to Here. He blogs regularly at

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • James Kinson

    Frank, thanks so much for this article. I have seen this as well.

    I recently read about Christians being poor tippers. Your article is one more example of the negative image many Christians have and deserve. I am tired of the world knowing Christians for everything but their love.

    We can’t bring the world to Christ if our actions don’t look anything like His actions.

    Christians need this wakeup call.

    Let’s love one another as we are called to do and help build God’s kingdom.

    • MLS

      My experience does not support yours about hiring Christian employees. Many claim to be Christian, but job performance, interactons with other employees, suppliers, customers,etc. are usually a very good indication of the validity of an employee’s claim of being a Christian.

      My true Christian employees have problems like many others but generally are beacons of light in my company and I find that I can relate to them at times on a spiritual level.

      I think it is sad that in our society so many are labeling themselves as Christians, wearing crosses as jewlery only, and witnessing for the prince of darkness rather than our Holy God.

  • You are the man Ray! This is what I am talking about! As a disciple of Christ everything we do should be done with excellence, because the way people look at us shapes their view of Jesus. We don’t just live for our self and our own gain. We aren’t just serving an earthly master but a heavenly king.

  • Kathleen Thompson

    This is sad, and so often true. I hire people because they are the best for the job, and not because they say they are Christians. If we only knew how much more loudly our actions speak than do our words.

  • Hi Ray,
    Thanks for posting this. It’s a sad commentary but a great that we always need to review our entire lives to see if we’re really living what we say we believe.

    By the way, the link to Frank’s site in the author box is broken and is directing to a 404 page on your site rather than to