Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

Several years ago, I became fascinated with international espionage. It seemed for a time that I could not read too many novels of this genre. The intrigue, complexity and dangers associated with undercover agents gathering and acting upon intelligence was very entertaining. In every case, the key to the secret agent’s effectiveness was his or her ability to avoid detection while infiltrating the domain of the enemy. While I have not read any espionage novels lately, I am open to recommendations from readers of Weekly Impact to add to my (rather lengthy) reading list.

Anyhow, it has often struck me that many marketplace leaders who claim to be Christians tend to act as though they are secret agents for Jesus. Unlike the espionage agent, however, their effectiveness in fulfilling their life mission is undermined by their desire to avoid detection. Jesus calls marketplace leaders to be his followers, not his secret agents. This idea brings to mind a passage from the Bible describing the leaders in Jesus time.

“On the other hand, a considerable number from the ranks of the (marketplace) leaders did believe. But because of the Pharisees, they didn’t come out in the open with it. They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.” (John 12:42-43, The Message)

The Pharisees were the religious thought leaders of Jesus’ day. Admired for their adherence to the law of Moses, the Pharisees had significant influence in Jewish society. As a result, many leaders who came to believe in Jesus sought to stay in their good books.

As a marketplace leader, I have often been quite outspoken about my faith. I am not immune, however, from taking on the secret agent persona on occasion! The following are some of the reasons we might go “undercover” from time to time in our professional lives:

  • We fear a loss of credibility with customers, staff and other stakeholders if we open up about our faith.
  • We fear that our status as leaders will be compromised because of the (often incorrect) perception held by others of what Christianity is and is not.
  • We fear being “politically incorrect.”
  • We are concerned about possible adverse consequences for our careers or businesses including, in particular, a negative impact on our pocketbook.
  • We fear persecution for our beliefs.
  • We believe in the principles of Christianity but do not have a relationship with the principal of Christianity (Jesus).

With the exception of the last point, I confess to “ouch” on most if not all of these points on some occasion over the decades I have been trying to follow Jesus. How about you?

At LeaderImpact, one of our major objectives is to de-risk the activity of living out the Christian faith. We accomplish this goal through professional training, special events featuring credible Christian marketplace leaders (LeaderImpact Forums) and, finally, LeaderImpact Groups where one can safely explore the relevance of faith in God in one’s professional and personal life with other marketplace peers.

Intrigued? Please contact us.

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.