Blog: Mark Stutrud

If you're busy on-task in the working world, it helps to pause and think for a minute. Mark Stutrud, president of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, writes on the messy, loving human services business and on training our entrepreneurial gaze higher.

Training Our Entrepreneurial Gaze Higher

Not every CEO admits to being driven by a higher power. The truth is, most of us are.
For me, it's easy. I sit at the helm of a faith-based organization, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. Although we serve any and all who need our services, we are very much Christ-centered and that is core to our mission.
I know many CEOs in the secular world who profess to the same convictions. That's because you can't operate for personal gain alone. It doesn't work. Everything falls apart. True service leads to work satisfaction and every person who realizes this lives a life of sustained gain, happiness, and contentment.

Answering to a higher power changes your business model entirely. It becomes about people connecting with other people; caring comes into the equation, service is a word that pops up again and again.

For me, love of Christ is so important that it permeates my executive thinking, my beliefs of excellence, my stewardship and my passion. I'd be the same at the helm of any organization and my higher power would lead me to do good before doing well, always.

In an organization like this, though, there is an inherent expectation on me as leader of a faith-based mission. It's part of the language, part of the job description. It's ok to be faith-based in an organization like this.

The question is, why isn't it ok in any capacity?

Americans are so careful not to mix church and state that I fear we sometimes abandon belief for a view of a plain brick wall. We should be awe-inspired every step of our journey – in the workplace as much as on our personal paths. I'm not talking about preaching or proselytizing. I'm saying instead that being guided by a higher power changes the landscape entirely and makes the whole world better.

It elevates our conversations. It makes our work more than punching a clock to pay our bills. Answering to a higher power, being driven by a mission to serve others, illuminates the work we do – any kind of work – and makes us kinder, more compassionate, more effective.
Let's train our entrepreneurial gaze higher. It takes all of us to a better place.