How to be a Christian in Business
This is a multi-part series on taking Jesus to work.
I was asked to present to Peachtree United Methodist Church on the topic of becoming known as a Christian. This forced me to think about what happened to me after I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
You'll see how each step was guided by my good friend and mentor Bill Leonard. Bill, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, put me in situations where I shared my faith. Most of the time, it was by just being there, but sometimes I needed to speak boldly.
Step 1: Let everyone know you are Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Shortly after surrendering my life to Jesus Christ, I ran into Bill Leonard at a Southeast Software Association meeting. The meeting had just concluded, and I found myself walking out of the Doubletree Hotel with Bill and his associate at the time.
"I want to thank you. God used you to change my life," I told him.
"How's that?" he asked.
"After the last High Tech Prayer Breakfast, I told you I needed your help. You were kind enough to meet with me," I answered. "You told me about the Leadership Ministries men's Friday Bible study. It was there I learned about Christ's love for me through the men who attended. I also was introduced to the Bible, which has been an amazing gift to me."
"That's great," he said.
"But there is more," I said as I gathered my courage to tell him what I really wanted to say. "I recently surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Savior."
Without a moment's hesitation, Bill said, "You need to be a table host for the next High Tech Prayer Breakfast."
"I can't do that. People know me."
"And they sure as heck don't know me as a guy who invites people to a prayer breakfast. Anywhere else, but not a prayer breakfast," I answered.
"If you surrendered your life to Jesus, you need to do this. You must stand and be counted as one of his new disciples. This is what Jesus wants us to do. And the easiest and best way to do it in our tech community is to become a table host for the next breakfast."
We continued this heated discussion all they way to the parking deck. As I remember it, Bill and his associate were relentless in achieving their goal of me becoming a table host. After five more minutes of them insisting and me objecting, I said, "Sign me up."
Within a few months, it was time.
I began inviting people to the High Tech Prayer Breakfast. Up until this time, I was quietly attending the Bible study Bill introduced me to and quietly beginning to go to church.
In these environments, I was Charlie the celebrated new Christian who was hungry to learn more about the God who sacrificed his only Son for me. In business and with friends, I was Charlie the businessman and friend...good guy but never mentioning Jesus.
Now I had to invite people in Atlanta technology to the Prayer Breakfast.Whom should I invite? Who would benefit from hearing the stories told at the breakfast? The answer was easy. Everyone I knew. Since I never hung out with Christians, I had a big market to draw from.
I decided to jump in with both feet. I would invite my closest friends first. I might as well tell them about my new found life instead of letting them discover my new faith over time. I came to the conclusion I would be more authentic by doing it this way.
I was elated. Everybody I invited accepted!
I guess they had to see what was going on. "Charlie Paparelli invited me to attend a prayer breakfast. This has to be good."
When the breakfast started, I put my forearms on my thighs with my head down.
I was afraid to look my guests in the eye. I knew they were going to hear stories from these tech business people about how Jesus had changed their lives forever.
After hearing this, they would probably guess the same thing had happened to me. And they would be right. This was my way of letting them know, "I am now a Christian."
When the breakfast was over, each of them came to me, shook my hand, and thanked me. They thought the event was inspiring, well-done, and informative.
One of my closer friends waited and approached after everyone else departed.
He said, "I had no idea you were a Christian."
This one comment and his sincerity in making this statement was the beginning of a multi-year conversation. My faith journey would come up over coffee, at dinners, and while playing golf. He wanted to know more and more about my faith. I found out later why he was so curious.
At this friend's 60th birthday party, he made some personal observations about each of his closest friends. When he came to me, he said, "Charlie is the only man I ever knew who actually changed." I will never forget what he said and where I was when he said it. He noticed I was born again.
Because of Bill and the High Tech Prayer Breakfast, I became known as the Christian angel investor. It was public information. God used this for his glory as you'll see in the next article.
This series was originally a talk. To listen click here.
Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.