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Ambassadors, Marketers, and Vessels

The beauty of being connected by faith is the unanticipated connections God makes between us when we least expect them. God’s providence makes it clear there are no chance meetings, which is how I met consultant and author Dr. Shelette Stewart.

With over 20 years of leadership experience in Fortune 500 companies including The Coca-Cola Company, Dr. Stewart is the founder and principal of Stewart Consulting, LLC, a business consulting and leadership development firm.

She oversees strategic partnerships with global corporations for Harvard Business School, is a Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Program Specialist, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration and is the author of “Revelations in Business: Connecting Your Business Plan with God’s Purpose and Plan for Your Life.

I asked Dr. Stewart how she approaches her work as worship—or as she suggests—connects her profession with her purpose and calling:

2 Thessalonians 1:11 reads, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his calling. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”

Question: In what way has your calling and business career been a response to a prompting of your faith?

“My faith has been a consistent thread in my career. When I look back at some of the most critical decisions I've had to make in business—particularly as an entrepreneur—my faith was crucial.”

“When God called me out of corporate America, where I was serving in a leadership role for The Coca-Cola Company to start my business and write my book, “Revelations in Business,” it was one of the more horrendous times in our country from an economic perspective. It was during the years of 2007 to 2009, and it was truly His promptings and my faith that sustained me.”

2 Thessalonians continues: (1:12) Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him.

Q: You’re a leadership and business consultant. How does your work with leaders and corporations bring honor to Jesus?

“I believe that the best way for us to bring honor to Jesus in our work is for us to exemplify Him in the workplace and marketplace. We're His ambassadors. We're marketers for Him. So, from a practical standpoint, this means doing my best to embody the fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, kindness, etc., when working with colleagues and clients. It also means being a person of character, keeping my word, and making sure that my work exemplifies excellence because we serve a God of excellence.”

Q: You write “We don’t have a personal life and a professional life; we have ONE life and we have to make that life count!” — How does this one assertion serve as the anchor of your writing and practice?

“This belief informs the way I live my entire life. I write about it and practice it because I truly believe it. Our life is not a dress rehearsal. This is the real deal. You know in the Western world, and particularly in the United States, we spend more time at work than we do with our loved ones. Our careers consume over half of our lives.”

“We've all have heard the reports from Harvard and other leading researchers reporting that in some cases, 70% of American workers are dissatisfied with their jobs or careers.”

“This hurts my heart, especially when we are blessed to have so many options in the U.S. I always say, we spend too much time at work not to enjoy it. I believe it's imperative that what we spend most of our waking hours doing, for most of our lives, is also spiritually edifying.”

Q: How do you personally approach your work as worship, and how are your business endeavors an expression of worship?

“I believe that business is a form of ministry and that our work should be a blessing. My pastor relayed this notion in a recent sermon when he reminded us that God blessed Adam and Eve with jobs and work managing the Garden of Eden before they sinned, before the downfall.”

“Work is meant to be a blessing. Work is not the result of a fallen world. This truth helps me keep worship in the proper perspective. I am thankful to God and worship Him for allowing me to serve as one of His vessels in the marketplace. I travel the world speaking on purpose-driven leadership, and the topic that I'm most requested to speak on is connecting your profession with your purpose, and your career with your calling.”

“This connection and alignment are what I strive for. It’s worship. It’s a way of giving glory to God by making sure that all I do aligns with His plan and His agenda.”

Q: What advice would you give to an entrepreneur or business leader who wants their faith to make their work more meaningful?

“The first step is to begin from within. Pray and ask the God who created us, and who resides in all of us, what His purpose is for you. Pray, meditate, and contemplate your calling as an individual. We serve a loving God. He's not going to give us a purpose and not tell us what it is. It's up to us to be intentional and diligent in asking.”

“Once you have a better idea of your purpose, the key is to connect every aspect of your business plan to His plan and purpose for your life. This is what my book is about: I've learned that His Word must always serve as the spiritual foundation for my professional and commercial endeavors.”

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