For Christian Business Owners: A Business Is Not A Family

family businessI’m a trial lawyer specializing in employment law.

The other day, a client tells me about her former employer, “The owner says he’s a Christian . . . . What a hypocrite!”

You see the owner had told the employees he considered them family. My client’s “family” then terminated her. My client realized families don’t terminate its members when times get tough or if they don’t perform. So, my client concluded this Christian business owner was a hypocrite.

I wish I could say this was the only time I have heard this story from a client or potential client, but it has happened far more than you might expect.

The desire to treat one’s employees like family is noble, but it is not Biblical. The Bible addresses natural families (e.g. “Husbands love your wives . . . .,” “Honor your father and your mother . . . .,” “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger . . . . “), and it addresses spiritual family (“And stretching out His hand toward His disciples He said, ‘Behold my mother and brothers!‘”).

But nowhere does the Bible say the relationship between employer and employee should be like a family. Instead, the Bible, when addressing the relationship between employer and employee, speaks dispassionately of duty (e.g. “The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning,””Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh . . . .“)

A family is held together by blood relationships and love and exists for the mutual support of one another. A business is held together by contractual relationships and exists to provide products or services and generate income.Your family may be work, but work is not your family.

If you are a Christian owner of a business, you should pray for your employees, love them and serve them. You should try to develop them into individuals who do their work ethically and excellently, but you should not create false unbiblical expectations about your relationship with them. It is not good for your business and it is not good for the Kingdom. GS

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