I was having my monthly conversation with a client who has been stewarding a particular investment idea into the world for over two decades. He has been working for other companies and last year he founded his own company. He is widely respected and trusted within an industry that is not generally known for its high integrity.
His integrity is so high that within a year of setting up his operation, he has been given $2.3 billion of other people’s money to invest. And people are queuing up to give him their money to invest.
We talked about the company culture he is creating with and for his twenty people.
He talked about how privileged he felt to be able to be that trusted and be able to build this business, and be able to contribute to the well-being of his team and his clients.
I know he has a faith, so I took a risk, and asked him whether he saw his work as a kind of ministry.
He said he did.
We talked about what that meant to him, and I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes from Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet, “Your work is your love made visible.”
It is our natural impulse to express our love that transforms our work into our ministry.
I have worked with my client for over a decade, but this simple question opened up a whole new and unexpected realm of conversation between us. He said it was one of the most important conversations we’d ever had.
We talked about there being a sense of holiness to what he was doing, something sacred. To have people’s trust. To operate from integrity. To have your clients trust you. To have your team enjoy working and growing with you. To care about his team’s wellbeing.
We touched on an idea I have always loved: That Love Is Good Business.
I became fascinated in the idea of work as ministry when I was very young. What did it mean that work was a calling, a ministry, rather than just something we did for money or status?
My dad only ever worked in one insurance company, for 49 years – from the age of 16 to his retirement at the age of 65. He rose to being a director of one of the divisions.
But his real calling was to be a minister. He was a lay Methodist preacher, and would preach most Sundays in a local church in the Essex area where we lived.
While I didn’t necessarily resonate with what he preached, I was inspired by his sense of having a calling, his excitement around creating a sermon, and seeing there was an activity something he willingly invested his energies into and loved sharing with the world. This was his ministry.
But in my youthfulness, I thought that if I wanted to have a calling and a ministry, it meant I had to be either a minister or something like a social worker. Neither appealed to me. It took me many years to begin to understand that your ministry is less about form and what you do, and more about the purpose for doing them, your Why if you like.
I see my writing, my speaking and my coaching and mentoring as my ministry.
Ministry is about essence rather than form. My belief now is that anything we do can be our ministry when our purpose for doing the work is to inject a little more love, kindness, healing and inspiration into the world. To make the world a little kinder, a little more of the world we know it can be.
Back to my client. He was further living proof that when we extend outwards the love that is within us, and when, as leaders, when we care about the wellbeing of our clients, and our team, and we operate with integrity, keep cleaning up our inner world, things have a higher tendency to go rather well.
I had always also loved spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson’s thought that “The love within us is meant to extend outward. The closer we grow to our inner light, the more we feel the natural urge to share that light with others. So it is that we all long for meaningful work, some creative endeavour that will be our ministry, by which the energies within us may flow into the world.”
I took the risk to share this quote with my client and he loved it.
Would you like a conversation about how your work can be your ministry? How your leadership can be your love made visible? Drop me a line at email@example.com and we’ll arrange that.