Reverse the view

In the IBEC blog of June 6 entitled “A Kingdom Business – what is it?” I used a Kingdom business coffee company to illustrate four core components of a Kingdom business.  The following is from Rick Buddemeier who serves as a cross-cultural analyst and trainer, helping IBEC business consultants and others to serve foreign companies effectively.  His comments are instructive for anyone working in OTHER cultures.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

Reverse the view: the Other culture’s point of view of the core 4 of Kingdom business

In an Other culture, to be respectable, business and work mirror the Other culture.

“The business itself is the ministry” – Larry Sharp

Four commonly defined characteristics of a Kingdom business were recently identified by Larry Sharp, what I’ll call the Core 4. He writes:

“A Kingdom business can be defined in various ways. In a study I did several years ago, reviewing the primary authors defining these businesses (Baer, Rundle and Steffen, Eldred, Mulford, etc.), I discovered that every definition includes:

  1. Development of employees for their full potential; and provision of products or services which are a true benefit to their markets, treating all stakeholders with dignity and respect.
  2. A product or service that is offered with excellence.
  3. Profitability, but with a Christian ministry purpose equal or bigger than financial profit.
  4. Servant leadership that seeks to glorify Christ in all aspects of the business and seeks to help others to follow Jesus.”

Key concepts from Sharp’s Core 4 through Other culture eyes: how would the Core 4 be understood by an Other culture?

Consider how these might be understood by people who live in Nepal, Senegal, Peru, Italy—or a culture familiar to you.


Here Sharp is talking about recognizing the image of God in every person. We Westerners, however, might confuse “respect” with counting all men as equal, a foreign concept in many Other cultures. If you are the boss there, it is unwise to pitch yourself as an equal or to treat workers as an equal class.

Employee potential

Westerners think future and see “potential.” What do Other culture workers value and expect of themselves as workers? What do local managers and supervisors expect? These are important questions about motivating employees in the Other culture.

A benefit to their markets

It’s not YOUR market! Some good ideas can create havoc in the Other culture. See my blog entry The Mango Mart Solar Cart BAM Bust.

Excellent service

Let’s not assume that Other culture peoples don’t know and have excellent service. It’s worth asking (not telling) what “excellent service” is. And, “What’s less than excellent service here?”

Financial profitability + Christian

What kind of purposes for business might believers in the Other culture perceive? It’s important for them to help us understand their business traditions. In Ghana, many in the Church have had a view of business as unspiritual. With that view (Don’t you wonder where it came from?) can generating a profit and making disciples go hand-in-hand?

Servant leadership

How is this understood in high power-distance cultures?

Aspects of the business

In many Other cultures, “aspects” will seamlessly include family and friend relationships.

Product or service

If you have spent time in non-Western cultures, you will recognize that “products and services” are an adjunct to RELATIONSHIPS, which is why Sharp chose to say “offered with excellence,” although even that may fall short of “offered to someone who knows you and someone you know and care about in general.”

Rick Buddemeier

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