Marketing and Faith: Similarities and Distinctions

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A Funny Breed

Marketing and Business folks are a funny breed. I should know, I’m technically one of them.

If you’ve ever read books like 7 Habits of a Highly Effective People, Good to Great, Linchpin, or Strengths Finder 2.0 you know what I’m talking about.

“Become a better leader in 5 easy steps!” or “Discover your strengths and maximize them!”

The Overlap

What’s interesting however, is how this business world has begun to overlap with the evangelical world. Think about it with me if you would:

  • Who loves reading non-fiction books? Business folks and Christians.
  • Who goes to conferences to hear from the biggest names? Business folks and Christians.
  • Who talks about things like service and leadership? Business folks and Christians.

This last point is what got me starting to think about all this. The vernacular of the business world and that of faith are remarkably similar. If I threw out some terms from a blog post could you guess which of the two camps wrote it?

  • sins
  • empathy
  • humility
  • patience
  • kindness
  • generosity

Believe it or not, these words were used in a recent post by marketing guru Seth Godin—and he wasn’t describing anything faith related! Seth was calling marketers to avoid “the seven marketing sins” and instead employ “humility, empathy, generosity, patience and kindness.” Talk about clashing worlds, Seth Godin was only a few fruit short of Galatians 5:22-23!

The Remaining Distinction

While finding overlap between these two worlds is intriguing, what’s more intriguing is what remains distinct between the two—motive. While no one but God can judge true motive, the apparent motive behind these similarities is what keeps the two worlds distinct.

Secular business folks, on the one hand, rely on books, conferences, and lingo to move up the chain and succeed. This is evidenced by how Godin finishes the statement reference above, “Humility, empathy, generosity, patience and kindness, combined with the arrogance of the brilliant inventor, are a potent alternative.” While he mentions a few fruits of the spirit, additions like “arrogance” and “potent” to the list indicating his end goal is likely related to growing the bottom line.

This is a stark contrast from the biblical understanding, on the other hand, of why one ought to exemplify the fruit of the spirit—to wage war against the flesh (Rom. 8:13) that we might be sanctified in accordance with God’s will (1 Thes 4:3).

This is not to say that business is evil, not at all (like I mentioned above, I’m in business). Nor is this to say that marketers like Seth Godin are disingenuous people, in fact he seems like a really great guy (he’s responded personally to a number of my emails). But it makes me wonder if a customer or employee can tell the difference between a marketer or manager employing fruit as a “tactic” as opposed to one who displays fruit as a result of a sincerely lived out faith.


How have you seen fruits of the Spirit exemplified under either motive? Did the person seem to be genuine?

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