With the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 climbing higher each day and millions of Americans unemployed and sheltering in place, most of us are taking stock of our lives in one way or another. Some are connecting more deeply with loved ones, both at home and virtually; and millions of people are finding renewed strength in their faith.
People often turn to a higher power during times of crisis. For this reason, a new book by David Steward, founder of the nation’s largest African American-owned business, and his longtime friend and mentee, Brandon Mann, founder of Biblical Business Training and co-founder of Kingdom Capital, offers hope and healing in these dark and turbulent times.
In Leadership by the Good Book, to be released on May 12, the authors empower business leaders to put themselves in a servant-leader mindset. They argue that you don’t have to compromise your morals to be a business success, explaining how biblical principles like forgiveness and putting others’ needs before our own are both the right thing to do and good business. The book is powerful and inspiring, combining biblical passages with first-person stories that follow Steward’s remarkable rise from his childhood, growing up in a poor family living in segregated Missouri, to his founding of World Wide Technology, Inc., a $12 billion company of more than 6,000 employees.
Though Steward and Mann wrote the book long before the outbreak of pandemic, they say it’s even more relevant now, and that people should take comfort in the values and principles that have sustained us for more than 2,000 years.
“In times of anxiety and uncertainty, people look to the bigger picture and eternity,” Steward said. “When you have your foundations shaken and the new norm forms, we tend to look beyond to something different. In this environment, we can all lead in new and different ways. We can reach out to our community and coworkers, putting their interests before our own.”
So far, we’ve all noticed subtle changes in business demeanor. Before meetings, we’ll often begin by asking about our coworkers’ health and family. But Steward and Mann say that caring deeply about others should always be the model. In their book, the authors frequently refer to “the most important meeting of the day,” which is when the family first meets at home after spending the day apart.
“The people we work with are literally on loan to us from their loved ones,” Steward said. “We’re borrowing them. We get it wrong in leadership by thinking that the employee owes us when, really, we owe that employee meaningful work that helps them accentuate and explore the gifts that God has given them.”
Steward and Mann say the nature of this pandemic, which disproportionately affects older people and those with compromised immune systems, means that most of us are staying at home, not for ourselves but to help others. They encourage people to use this time to think more about families, friends and communities. How to serve them and keep others top of mind.
“The coronavirus is the invisible enemy, but it’s effects are tangible,” Mann said. “There is another insidious invisible enemy that’s even more pervasive—anxiety—and none of us are immune to it. The only effective antidote to anxiety and things being completely out of control, is having faith in God, knowing that He is in control.”
Leadership by the Good Book is the rare business book that provides tangible real-world application. With a focus on turning readers into leaders, every chapter concludes with a “Your Leadership Flywheel: Learn, Live, Lead, Legacy” section, which serves as an introduction to the Biblical Business Training (BBT) leadership development model. Founded by Mann, BBT is dedicated to helping people apply biblical principles at work through small-group Bible study.
With its focus on core values of love, service, honesty and integrity, the book will appeal to a broad range of readers. What’s more, Leadership by the Good Book is designed to serve as a companion to the BBT curriculum. Readers become leaders by joining the BBT movement—at no cost to them—and using those resources as part of their own “leadership laboratory.” In addition to Bible study, BBT offers a book study, which provides a more approachable way for some to immerse themselves in Biblical teachings.
“BBT offers a book study and a Bible study that harmonizes with the book,” Mann said. “The book study is designed to feel like an Oprah Book Club. It’s a great opportunity for someone to take a step toward a deeper Bible study. This is an opportunity to meet people where they are, where they’re comfortable, and then allow the truth of God’s word to continue to work in through their lives.”
Today, many people are searching for deeper meaning and reflecting on what matters most. Steward and Mann hope that the lessons set forth in their book will continue to inspire people long after our world returns to a new normal.
“How do we emerge from this so that we continue to be mindful of other people’s lives and situations?” Steward said. “Hopefully, we’ll maintain that sensitivity coming out of this.”