Closet Christians… Come Out!

How is Kingdom POWER exercised in the highest eschelons of corporate leadership?

Remember that resource I recommended in Monday’s post — Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite? See  My own copy arrived yesterday… and already, I have found some very interesting reading.

Like how Evangelical business leaders are making their Christian faith known (or not) in the daily exercise of their responsibilities. Most leaders interviewed by Michael Lindsay indicated they want to live out their faith in ways that pique others’ curiosity and allow them to talk about faith… but most choose, at least in the workplace, to do so very subtly.

Too subtly… some leaders say.

A few highlights from Lindsay’s chapter on “Executive Influence” (pp. 186-207)…

Paul Johnson, real estate developer, has a large wooden sign on the wall behind his desk. Prominently displaying Mark 8:36: “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  When meeting there with clients or partners, he seats them and leaves the room to “speak to” his secretary. In reality, he is giving them a moment to read the sign and think about it… whether they later discuss it or not.

Although many Evangelical leaders express reluctance to talk explicity about their faith in the workplace, they want to show they are “connected” to Christ. “Launchers” (coined by Brad Rex, of Walt Disney World) can serve to provoke questions from visitors that “launch” spiritual conversations. Conversations that even lead to sharing the gospel.

Examples? Prominently-displayed Bibles, Scripture quotations in artwork, or books about faith and business — e.g., Loving Monday, God is My CEO, Succeeding in Business Without Losing Your Faith.

I like the example of Clayton Brown, a Chicago business executive, whose desk nameplate had two sides. The side always facing him said, “Perhaps Today.” Reminding him that Jesus will return one day. Compelling him, with a sense of immediacy, to live his life well and share his faith often.

Some execs hope their faith example — what they do and don’t do — will impact others.

Bonnie Wurzbacher of Coca-Cola attends a company Bible study whenever she’s in town, signaling her faith allegiance and encouraging other believers at work. Archie Dunham, who led ConocoPhillips for many years, regularly attended church on Sundays (even while traveling to Dubai and Singapore). Somehow, word spread through the company’s informal networks. Jerry Miller, oil/gas executive at Texaco, didn’t run around or chase women (like others did).

Go figure.  🙂

Others use the media to talk about their faith, as more national outlets pay attention to the intersection of faith and work. Thomas Phillips, at Raytheon, was a “quiet” or “closet” Christian until he was mentioned in Charles Colson’s book Born Again. After that, a turning point for him, everyone in the company knew of his faith.

Is it possible for Christian leaders to be too subtle?

If not, why now? If so, how so? At what cost?

Please post your comments below.

Diana Furr, a.k.a., Abba’s Girl

This blog may have raised questions for you. If you’d like to connect, engage, or get further help from me, you can… EMAIL me at [email protected]; CALL me at 863-446-1660; or request a complimentary initial CONSULT with me at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *