Forum for Christian Executives Focuses on Integrating Faith and Work
July 1, 2004
by Amanda Knoke
Sitting on a church pew at a missions conference in 1976, Jenny Pruitt desperately wanted to answer the speaker's call to serve Christ overseas—but her husband did not sense the same calling.
Knowing her dilemma, Pruitt's pastor told her, "Open up your eyes and look around. You are right in the middle of a mission field—you're in the marketplace."
After praying about it, Pruitt went to work the following Monday and was amazed at how blind she had been to the people all around her. She began to ask if people wanted prayer and, as time went on, she became known as the unofficial chaplain at her company.
In 1988 Pruitt founded her own company, Jenny Pruitt & Associates, in Atlanta, where she continues to be a prayer intercessor for her 475-member staff.
Pruitt was one of about 120 Christian business leaders who attended the Christian Executive Leadership Forum April 30-May 2 at the Billy Graham Training Center. Organized by the Strategic Ventures division of the Training Center and by Bill Pollard, chairman emeritus of The ServiceMaster Company, the Forum drew leaders from companies including American Express, Coca-Cola and Jockey International.
Franklin Graham told the group that people are generally comfortable with talking about God, but he emphasized that the name of Jesus must be lifted up in the workplace.
Business executives and their spouses also heard from Christian leaders and former leaders of companies including Chick-fil-A, Tyson Foods, Herman Miller and Wal-Mart, as well as former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr.
The Forum addressed ways leaders can effectively integrate their faith and work and become ambassadors for Christ in a mission field which has been largely uncharted.
Speakers considered the biblical model for integrating faith and work, the importance of biblically based company values and goals, religious freedom in the workplace, servant leadership, and dedicating work to the Lord and seeing it as a spiritual part of the Christian life.
Attending as a participant, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary President Walter Kaiser said that for 20 years he has worked to help connect what happens in the pew on Sunday mornings with what happens in the workplace during the week. Kaiser is eager to have his faculty—and the seminary students—embrace the importance of the pastor's role in equipping the church for ministry in the workplace.
Jenny Pruitt left the Forum eager to organize a chaplaincy program for her four branch offices. She said, "This expanded my vision for how God might use me to the greater glory of His name."