Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of highly effective people” book is one of the best and is highly recommended to everybody who wants to be a highly effective Christian business leader.
- Be proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- First things first
- Think win-win
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood
- Sharpen the Saw
In this article, I’ll connect these 7 habits to biblical references so you can apply to your life as you strive to be a highly effective Christian business leader.
1. Be Proactive
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty”.Proverbs 22:3
In the scripture above, it points to how things can happen unexpectedly but the prudent one is always on guard to see the danger ahead.
Be on your guard is used more than 20 times in the scriptures. And just like the parable —where the master comes back unannounced to meet his servants, those who the master meet on duty are rewarded as written in Luke 12;
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreakLuke 12:38
Proactiveness is the ability to be prepared ahead for an unforeseen event. Therefore, as a highly effective Christian business leader, you must be on guard at all times.
In order to survive, you must build the foundation of your business on the solid rock of preparedness. So that when the storm comes it doesn’t blow away like chaff. The book of Matthew says;
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.Matthew 7:25
Let’s take an example from this current COVID_19 pandemic, schools who were proactive and had invested in an online learning system before the pandemic would easily transition to learn at home during the pandemic.
In the same way for some businesses that have set up an online project and communication management system (e.g Trello, Asana, Slack, etc) prior to the pandemic will be more confident in their staff working remotely because there are systems in place to track their productivity.
2. Begin with the end in mind
In the beginning, one of the first articles on the platform, I emphasized the importance of vision also known as the “light” as the first thing a prospective entrepreneur should have.
Vision helps you think about the end before you begin. This is because if you can’t imagine it, how can you actualize it? Proverbs says;
“For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he..”Proverbs 23:7a
The mental picture comes before physical picture according to Covey.
So as a highly effective Christian business leader, you should have the habit of knowing the end goal before you start any project.
There is a saying that ‘you can only achieve as far as your mind can take you‘. This means every great project started as a thought in the mind before it was brought to life.
I believe if Thomas Edison didn’t think it was possible in his heart he wouldn’t have tried up to 1000 times to create the light bulb.
That’s why as a Christian your salvation starts in your heart to believe that Jesus is Lord. Thereafter, you confess with your mouth and other things follow.
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”Romans 10:10
3. First thing first
The matrix designed by Covey and Eisenhower explained how to prioritize what is important vs urgent. To guide you in deciding where to invest your effort as an effective business leader.
When using this matrix, your business purpose and values help shape your prioritization criteria. As a highly effective Christian business leader, it is expected your values are derived from your Faith in God.
Therefore your pursuit of God comes first before anything as Jesus told us in Matthew;
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.Matthew 6:33
This means your foremost priority is the kingdom of God, never lose sight of that.
This first thing first habit also reminds you to always use your time in doing what matters most. Time is also the most precious resource you ‘ve got but it’s running out —no time to waste.
According to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe;
4. Think win-win
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you and that sums the laws and the prophets”Matthew 7:12
This part of the scripture also known as the ‘golden rule‘ sets the foundation to think win-win in dealing with your business stakeholders such as customers, competitors, employees, partners, etc.
Again, learn to build a cooperative habit rather than be competitive and watch how far you can go with the help of others.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”James 1:19
Contrary to the scripture quoted above, most people are slow to listen and fast to speak.
But as a highly effective Christian business leader, you should develop the habit to be an ‘active’ listener. So, ‘active‘ here means fully engaged to understand the other person’s point of view by ‘putting on their shoes’ (empathize).
To empathize also means to defer judgment and biases based on your personal experiences.
So I agree with Covey that “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply”.
For example, you spent some time explaining something to someone, shortly after the person responds off from what is discussed. Right then you knew they weren’t listening all along. Proverbs says;
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shameProverb 18:13
In business management, synergy is the idea that the whole is better than the sum of its parts, illustrated as 1+1 = 3.
Of course, there are times when you have to be alone to drive your goal but when the opportunity comes to go along with others take that option as long as you all establish a win-win mindset.
Moreover, there is power in unity, there is power in cooperation over competition.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”Matthew 18:19
7. Sharpen the saw
Literarily, when a carpenter uses a saw for a long period of time, the saw becomes blunt. This slows down his work or causes poor output.
A highly effective carpenter schedule time to sharpen his saw in order to produce quality output. Likewise, a business leader must schedule a time alone where he or she retreats to renew their mind and body.
Jesus Christ showed us a perfect example were He takes time off from everyone to pray in solitude. And He did that as a preparation for performing major tasks ahead in His earthly ministry.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”.Luke 5:16
Importantly, without a habit that refreshes yourself, your body and mind become weak to perform the other 6 habits.
Short Biography of Stephen Covey (1932 – 2012)
Takeaway: To be a highly effective Christian business leader, it is pertinent to build resilient habits that drive proactiveness, vision setting, win-win mindset, prioritization, empathy, synergy, and regular refreshen.
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