[Book Review] Business by The Book: The Complete Guide of Biblical Principles for the Workplace

Business By The BookWhat guidelines do you use to run your business?

Do YOU run your business by the book? How about by THE Book?

Larry Burkett’s Business by The Book – The Complete Guide of Biblical Principles for the Workplace is by no means a new publication (1998), but it is certainly filled with timely admonitions.

I re-read it recently at my husband’s suggestion. We’re looking into beginning another small business together, and he wisely thought we might need a refresher course. While we have frequent opportunities to learn and be encouraged regarding Biblical living, running a business in a Biblical fashion is often a bit more, um, shall we say “challenging.”

If you’re not familiar with Larry Burkett, let me give you some perspective. Folks like Dave Ramsey cut their teeth on his materials. He’s somewhat the grandfather of modern-day Biblical financial principles.

And what he has to say to Christian business owners is as relevant today as it was at the turn of this century.

Business by The Book is divided into three sections.

Part 1 – Business by The Book discusses general principles that we need to consider when setting up a foundation from which to grow a lasting business. There’s quite a bit of “meat” here for folks with online businesses. 

Part 2 – Critical Policy Decisions focuses a little more specifically on decisions that those in management and/or ownership positions might be dealing with, such as employee/employer relations, and borrowing/lending decisions.

Part 3 – Your Business and Your Life deals with that ever-difficult balance between our work and how it affects those around us: partnering with others, business tithing (nope, we’re not “exempt”), and retirement.

What’s In It for You?

The first time I went through Business by The Book, I have to admit I skimmed through Part 2; my attitude being that I was “only” a small business owner, and the chapter headings led me to believe his words were written more for the corporate (wo)man. This time, since I was also reading it for review purposes, I dug in. And let me tell you, small business owner: don’t skip Part 2!

Opening Part 2 is the chapter “Leadership: The Foundation for All Your Decisions,” so I guess we really shouldn’t be surprised, right? Among other recommendations, Burkett encourages leaders to know their personal assets and liabilities, and to promote a culture of respect between everyone with whom they work. He encourages us to be transparent, not only as an important personal characteristic, but also as a tool to develop trust, both within the organization and with customers/clients. He also encourages us to grow our ability to be an open and interested listener. I could go on and on…but I think you’ll see that the flavor of this book is not your typical business management textbook.

The most important take away!

This little gem hit me right between the eyes:

”Although the need for a focused vision seems obvious, it’s amazing how easy it is to get off track… A clearly-defined vision or mission statement can keep you on course and serve as a benchmark to help you evaluate all the opportunities that pop up.” p.109

Similar to the Word of the Year that we discuss here in the International Christian Mompreneur Network, a thoughtfully-crafted vision statement will keep you on track this year…and through the coming years. What is your statement? Do you have one?

A really neat feature about his book is the Study Guide included in the back. Discussion questions, along with Scripture references, allow the book to be used in a small group setting, perhaps with an accountability group, or even as a discipleship/mentoring tool.

For Christian business owners, whether your enterprise is small or large, on-line or bricks-and-mortar, these thoughts penned by the late Larry Burkett are timely and important to read and take to heart.

Living in the world while not being of the world takes constant diligence, encouragement, and guidance. The diligence is up to you; Business By The Book brings both encouragement and guidance to the table.



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Pat Fenner has been chief-cook-and-bottle washer on the home front since the dark ages. Wife to a self-employed entrepreneur hubby and homeschooling her 5 children, she has juggled more jobs and projects over the years than she cares to admit! Right now she co-owns and writes at PatAndCandy.com, where she shares wisdom attained from the school of hard knocks on parenting and homeschooling. Visit her site (PatAndCandy.com) and download a FREE PDF "A Mother's Affirmation" to remind you how important YOU are to your brood!