20 – How to Introduce Executives to Christ
OBSTACLES TO REACHING EXECUTIVES
Is it more difficult to win executives to the gospel? Yes and no. No, because every man has what Blaise Pascal called “a God-shaped vacuum that can only be filled by God through His Son, Jesus Christ.” Yes, because highly capable executives can often fill that vacuum for decades with accomplishment, money, power, prestige, and position.
Since executives are highly motivated over-achievers they often “seem” to have everything under control. They don’t appear to need God because God is a crutch and, of course, only weak people need crutches. Since they have accomplished so much, why do they need the Lord’s help?
A NEED AND A RIGHT
Do the rich and powerful have as much right to the gospel as the poor and powerless? After all, Jesus Himself said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24). Yes, it’s difficult, but Christ also commands us to present the good news about salvation through faith to all men. Jesus often showed a special interest in executives: Zaccheus, Matthew, Jairus, Pilate.
Should we be concerned for the souls of high-powered, successful, hard-charging executives and leaders? Yes, every human being should have a chance to respond to a credible offer of the gospel. 2 Peter 3:9 puts it this way: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Immediately after urging us to pray “for kings and all those in authority”, Paul writes, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:3-4). These are not efficacious statements – they do not promise that all men will be saved. But it does express the “desire” or “heart” of God who does not delight in the death of the wicked. God loves every man He created. All men need the Lord.
How can you and I effectively introduce executives to faith in Jesus Christ? Here are some practical ideas:
1. Be alert for seasons of crisis and suffering. We each go through vulnerable moments when the breakers of life crash upon us. Sometimes we wonder if it’s all worth it – what’s it all about, anyway? In fact, the Bible tells us that God brings “futility, frustration, vanity, and meaninglessness” into men’s lives precisely so that they will repent and turn to God. Be especially sensitive to executives going through a hard time. At such times you may find a more willing, interested person. Watch the newspaper for executives in trouble. Drop them a note or, better still, drop by to see them.
2. Ask for the appointment. Many upper echelon people are insulated because of time pressures. But often, they will accept a phone call or agree to a meeting if you set up the appointment ahead of time. I regularly meet with high level executives, not because I have any special way of asking, but simply because I do ask. If you are an executive, remember that like attracts like. You may have a special entree to executives.
3. Build a relationship. Top executives often become isolated from people because of the unique responsibilities and pressures they face. It is not uncommon for executives to feel like they have no friends. They can be suspicious of someone who wants to help them – there’s no free lunch.
Try asking an executive to do something unrelated to the gospel or church. Perhaps it’s golf, tennis, fishing, or racquetball. Maybe it’s dinner with spouses. Possibly, you have met because of a child’s activity. How about a barbecue after a little league game? If you live in an executive neighborhood invite your neighbors for an open house in the fall. If you like, you can invite them back for a Christmas party and have a Christian executive share his or her faith.
4. Give executives what they need in the context of what they want. When Jesus went to a well (John 4), a woman wanted to talk to him about water, so Jesus talked to her about living water. A man I met was unemployed. He wanted to talk about work, so I talked to him about work. I volunteered to send his resume to a friend who runs a company related to this man’s interests. His live-in girlfriend just couldn’t get over that I would help a virtual stranger. Over a period of about eight weeks he gave his life to our Lord.
5. Show them Christ. Recently an executive showed me a long letter about his theology he wanted to send to someone. He asked my opinion. I told him, “If it was my choice, I wouldn’t send the letter.”
“Why not?” he asked.
“Because the example of your life is 100 times more convincing than your letter.”
In our ministry we have a slogan: “Men who know Christ show men Christ.” Let the presence of Christ so radiate in your life at all times that executives are attracted to Christ in you. If you want to catch fish you have to put some bait on the hook. For the executive, a life consistently lived for God is the most appealing lure.
6. Talk to them about Christ. The Lord calls us to take living water to men who are sick unto death. Men can chase after any number of vain, hollow philosophies and psychological theories. Stick to the message of the gospel, including sin and repentance. Don’t offer men dying of spiritual thirst a gulp of “power-of-positive-thinking” poison.
My accountant revealed an extremely creative idea to share his faith. He writes co-executives and co-workers at their home addresses, shares what Christian faith is all about and includes a copy of Know Why You Believe by Paul Little (InterVarsity Press). They all come to him to express gratitude that he cared enough to write. Even if they have no interest whatsoever, they appreciate the gesture.
7. If you cannot tell a man about Christ, take him to a person who can. A rapidly rising executive with a NYSE company found out that his wife was leaving him and taking their three children from the east coast back to Washington state. A friend of this executive invited him to our Friday morning Bible study. After listening to his story I had the opportunity to talk to him about getting his own life in order. He trusted Christ Jesus to be his Savior and Lord.
If you cannot share “the reason for the hope that is in you” you are like a crippled man without a cane or a painter without a brush. Let me urge you to receive training to share your faith. Ask your pastor. In the meantime, don’t exclude your executive friends from the gospel – take them to a place where the gospel can be heard.
8. Provide low pressure opportunities to investigate and grow. I mentioned in The Seven Seasons of a Man’s Life (page 224) that Lyle, a business owner, wanted to start a Bible study at his office. Recently he told me he’s starting a second study and 19 people have signed up to come. You could offer to meet once a week with an executive at his office to study a book or the Bible. You could invite him to become part of a small group Bible study. Invite him to hear interesting speakers share their faith, especially if other executives will be present.
Executives tend to be crowd adverse, so reaching them through large events tends to be less effective. Small groups or dinner events in a home or “neutral” setting will usually work best.
9. Go slow. The foundational philosophy for our ministry is this: “It takes a long time to make a disciple.” It takes an especially long time to make an executive into a disciple. Executives do not respond to pressure. In fact, the slightest amount may send him running. Take your time. You may invest ten or twenty years into a man before you see a return.
10. Above everything else, pray for the executives that you are trying to reach. Put them on your “Ten Most Wanted” list. Ask the Holy Spirit to change their hearts. Our role is to be a faithful witness and true friend – God alone can give them new life.
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley has been used throughout the world to help men and leaders think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to equip them to have a larger impact on the world.
© 1995. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.