Truly helpful or just another bait and switch?

Bait and switch has rightfully earned a bad name…

DEFINITION: BAIT AND SWITCH
Suggesting or promising one type of thing to gain attention, then not delivering fully on the promise

But I wonder how many Christian business folks are guilty of doing the same thing by claiming to be “customer focused” or “service oriented” and actually only being about the bottom dollar.

Yes, I know, you’re in business to make a profit. I agree. So am I.

But is there room in your “for profit” business model for true generosity?

Is there a mindset behind your business that genuinely works for the customer’s good, first and foremost?

Jesus said the following…

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. – Luke 6:35

As with much of Jesus’ teaching, this one is very countercultural. It’s not “natural” to love your enemies… or to do good to them… or to lend to them…

But Jesus, and His ways, are SUPERnatural. And He’s the one living in you, Christian business person.

How does Jesus’ statement relate to the practice of business as a Christian?

Jesus often gives the most extreme example as a way to show us that even in less extreme cases the same principle applies.

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So if you’re supposed to love, do good, and lend to an enemy (the most extreme circumstance), doesn’t it make sense that you should do the same to a customer or client (a less extreme case)?

That means your customer’s good comes before your profit. Just like your enemy’s good comes before your desire for retaliation or grudge-holding, or bitterness.

It truly IS about them first. That’s Jesus’ point.

How do we know that’s Jesus’ point? He says so…

…and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

When we treat others with love first, we are being like God, who loves even His enemies so much that He gave the ultimate price to redeem them (John 3:16).

When we care about our client’s needs first (before we consider the profit in it for us), then we are being like God.

That’s the counter-cultural, supernatural way of living that makes a true difference in the world.

Are you guilty of the Christian bait and switch?

  • You might be if this concept hasn’t rooted itself deeply within your business model. Yes, I said IN your business model. You need to PLAN to be loving, generous, giving to your clients and customers. It’s part of what sets you apart as a Christian business person.
  • You might be if you tout yourself as a “Christian” business (complete with a little fish or cross on your business cards or website), but you don’t give over and above to your clients, work with them in a flexible manner, tow the line on policies and procedures, or find ways to bless them with every interaction.
  • You might be if you never do jobs for free when circumstances warrant it (a client who is truly in need, or the tug of the Spirit telling you that you should).
  • You might be if you talk a big talk about “adding value” but deep down your motive is only to make money.
  • And a million others…

How to know when to give and when to charge?

The answer is quite simple. Not easy, but simple…

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16

Vital relationship with Jesus is where it begins.

Daily relationship with Him is where it is carried out in day to day business life.

He will be faithful to guide you as you look for opportunities to express His generous heart to your clients (and employees). The Bible says it is so, and my experience bears it out.

Here’s some steps I suggest to avoid the bait and switch…

  • Examine your beliefs: Are you confident that Jesus will take care of you if you’re generous?
  • Examine your faith: Are you willing to do what Jesus says in terms of generosity, even when it feels like you might go without by doing so?
  • Examine your talk. Are you saying things like “customer satisfaction” or “people first” that sound good but, in reality, you’re not living them out?
  • Examine your practices: What “policies” need to be adjusted to enable you to be more loving toward clients and employees? What “mindsets” need to be taught throughout your company culture to enable everyone to look for opportunities to truly put the customer first?

What thoughts do you have on how this might apply to Christians in business?

Could I be of help in evaluating your business culture or mindset?

Comments

  1. Nice…
    I sometimes felt that I was in a ministry of bait and switch when I started as I had to raise funds (still do) and I wasn’t crystal clear when I called a friend that when I said I wanted to catch up, I was really meaning that I wanted to show them my ministry and ask for their help (money). I quickly found that it was much better to be honest and not have as many meetings than for everyone to feel uncomfortable.

    Honesty and integrity and sincere love for others trumps “bait and switch”every time.

  2. I think sometimes we forget that this Christian life is supposed to be all-encompassing. There is no part of our life from which giving is supposed to be excluded. Our God-given businesses are to be God-centered businesses which yield God-like results: Love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, caring, compassion, etc. With this Christian mindset there’s no room for bait and switch, instead we’ll “under-promise and over deliver”, just like Jesus.

  3. I think you covered it here very well Carey. It always starts for me with my relationship with Christ. Am I working on it? Are we close? When I am working on that relationship, it is always much, much more clear when I am supposed to do something just to help. It has also taken that same relationship to have the confidence to charge. I think when many Christians start out in business they feel bad about charging for their services, whether or not they are claiming to be a faith-based business. When we try to figure it out in our flesh, it is always ambiguous. When we look to Christ, He will lead us. Thanks for sharing this topic. It is a difficult one for many of us Christians in business!

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