Christian values and culture in business are the keys to a successful Christian outreach, David Ridley told a group of students at an Oct. 15 “Kingdom Business” luncheon hosted by the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. Ridley, former CEO of Invesco Real Estate, which managed as much as $800 billion in assets, spoke on the topic of the intersection of business and ministry in the workplace—“the largest mission field in the world.”

Ridley said that any leader in a team-building role—in a church or secular setting—can encourage those around them and use business as an opportunity for Christian outreach by influencing change within the community served. Leaders can apply business rules to church-building, and rules of the church can be applied to secular work. “Those leaders and future leaders are where it starts,” he said.

“Leaders need to send out employees with the support they need to spread God’s Word,” Ridley continued. “Send them out empowered to be the best they can be, while honoring God for all that is accomplished.”

“To reach the world, we have to make a connection with people,” he said. “Avoid the disconnect. There are cultural differences all over the world, but the spiritual needs of all people are the same.”

Ridley recalled meeting with a Houston real estate executive more than three decades ago who bluntly told him that he was doomed to fail if he intended to compete with more prestigious firms. At the end of the evening, Ridley returned to his small hotel room and made a lengthy list of all his shortcomings that would lead to his failure.

“And do you know what I did then?” he asked. “I went on my knees and I surrendered that list to Jesus. I prayed, ‘Please, Jesus, take me out of this business. I want out.’ 

“After that, I felt like a thousand pounds was gone from me. No more fear of failure. How could I fail if God owns it?” 

He began to expand his opportunities by bringing in new, more highly skilled partners. That, he said, illustrates the first of three pillars on which to build a Kingdom outreach—by establishing a solid foundation for the task ahead.

“Your bedrock is your people,” Ridley said. “And it’s not the smartest people that you want. There are smart people everywhere. You’re looking for humility.” 

The greatest sin he sees in business is pride, Ridley said. “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.”

A second pillar for Kingdom outreach is a strong engagement ethos. “If we couldn’t get people to believe in us, what we did was all for nothing,” he said.

A final pillar for Kingdom outreach is passion—“a fire in the belly,” he said. “You get to know who these people are. Your team must be engaged, strong and empowered.”