Walking into the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville is a fascinating experience. The resort provides 27 acres of “tropical” beauty and opulence as the setting for the National Leadership Conference of C12, the nation’s largest gathering of Christian CEO’s. But the real scene was set the first evening by Alan Barnhart, the CEO of Barnhart Crane and Rigging Company. His challenge to us all was to understand that we are just stewards of what God entrusts to us, not the owners.
And the way he has lived this as he has helped his company grow from handling a few millions dollars of business a year to a few hundred millions of dollars of business each year, has been to set a standard of living that he chose when the company was small, and to never have increased that standard of living, but rather to have found ways to literally give the rest to the Lord. Even the company itself has now been legally transferred into a structure where it’s profits go to God’s work. What a picture of Godly stewardship.
C12’s tagline is “Christian CEOs & Owners Building Great Businesses For A Greater Purpose.” The whole thrust of this conference demonstrates that C12 is serious about this mission. As the Bible puts it in the book of Colossians, “That in all things He (Christ) might be preeminent.” Subsequent speakers shared from their personal journey the steps of moving from businessmen or women who happened to be Christians, to what it looks like as they learn to be Christians who happen to be in business. If we are Christians first and foremost, everything else then flows from that commitment to Christ.
What this looks like in shipping and logistics may be very different from what it looks like in Pest Control, but the outcome is the same. Changed lives in our staff, in our clients and in the whole of our customer base. And what magnificent changes were described as we looked at the impact of our companies on the very people that we are called to serve.