Celebrating God’s Purposes for Business

| May 13, 2021

I believe that to do effective business as mission, we must start with a solid foundation of thinking about business from a biblical perspective. In other words, before we get to the ‘as mission’, we need to understand God’s design for business – and yes, celebrate it, because it is really good!

Celebrating God’s Purposes for Business

It is no secret that my favorite quote about business comes from Dallas Willard who said that, ‘Business is a primary moving force of the love of God in human history.

Business, done well, is glorifying to God and has enormous potential to do good. Business has an innate God-given power to create dignified jobs, to multiply resources, to provide for families and communities and to push forward innovation and development in human society.

In Deuteronomy 8 we read that it is God who gives us the ability to produce wealth. He provides abundant natural resources so that we can use our creativity, talents, and hard work to provide for ourselves and innovate for society. Business processes naturally generate wealth and resources; companies are able to create good products and services for the benefit of communities. Business pushes forward innovation, helping societies develop; enterprises bring in new technologies, skills, and training to communities. Business, done well – not forgetting the Lord our God (Deut 8:11) – is glorifying to him.

Although companies sometimes have a bad reputation for environmental damage, corruption and exploitation, we believe that is not the whole story of business. Business has an innate power and God-designed role in society – and like any power, this can be corrupted by sin and greed. That is why God also reminds his people in Deuteronomy 8:11 and 18 not to forget him as they settle down, start businesses, and create wealth in the new land he is giving them.

Harnessing the power of business

Water is a life-giving resource on the earth, essential for human flourishing and ‘good’ just as it is. However, the power and potential of water can also be intentionally harnessed to do even more good, in small or great ways – it can be channeled through an irrigation pipe or can produce hydroelectric power. However, because we live in a sinful world, water can also be poisoned, it can be mismanaged, it can give rise to greed and conflict, or it can be used to do harm.

Business is also a good, God-given tool and resource that can be used for benefit or harm. If the natural role of business in God’s design for humankind is to create jobs, multiply wealth and resources, drive creativity and innovation, and sustainably provide for families, communities and nations, then we can already clearly see the potential of business for God’s kingdom work on earth. Businessmen and women may then intentionally harness this power of business and focus it to sustainably address some of the world’s most pressing problems: environmental crises, joblessness, poverty, slavery, sanitation problems, food security, and so on.

Getting to the ‘as Mission’

In the global marketplace today, we have an enormous opportunity to leverage this God-given potential of business to address some of the world’s most pressing spiritual, social, environmental, and economic issues. A growing number of business people and others are doing this worldwide; they are serving God in the marketplace and intentionally shaping business for God’s glory, the gospel, and the common good. Business professionals are using their skills to serve people, make a profit, be good stewards of the planet, and align with God’s purposes; they are taking the whole gospel to the ends of the earth.

This is ‘business as mission’ – the movement we are part of. A major part of this movement is made up of Christ-following business professionals using the gifts of entrepreneurship and good management to bring creative and long-term, sustainable solutions to global challenges. Then there is the wider supporting ecosystem of investors, trainers, mentors, mobilisers, incubators, intercessors, networkers, communicators, and so on, from many backgrounds and organisational types: academia, the church, NGOs and agencies, as well as business service providers.

Steve Saint, an inventor and business person and son of missionary martyr Nate Saint, once said, “In our society we become what we celebrate. In order to release business people to get engaged, we need to celebrate their role in the Kingdom of God. We need to stop celebrating one call, one role over another call or role. Business is a high calling, we need to celebrate it so that our children and their children know that if they are called to business then that’s what they should be doing to God’s glory”

There is still a great need to affirm Christian business people in their call to the marketplace.

Thinking Bigger About Business

Business as mission is an intentional application of the innate God-given potential of business. If we emphasise that business is a means to a particular end and not something to celebrate it in its own right, then that is what we will multiply. We will perpetuate the split thinking about what is sacred and valuable and what is not in the minds of the Christian business people we encourage.

Let’s keep broadening our horizons. What does God say about business? What were his intentions when he made enterprise part of his design for human society? I believe understanding this is a key to releasing the power of business for God’s kingdom; the power of business to bring God’s blessings to people and give them the opportunity to rise out of spiritual, social and physical poverty.

We can ask God to show us all the ways that business might positively impact a community, and then work intentionally to create that impact. He might surprise us! One might start out hoping to create jobs for vulnerable women and end up inventing a new product, or hope to see the church established in an unreached area and end up helping to write a new tax code for the country (true story!)

So even as we focus in on business as mission, let us understand and embrace the fullness of God’s design for business. Let us celebrate his intentions. As we do that, I think we will have to say “Wow!” God is so creative and he has given us the ability to be creative, to add value, to make money, to create wealth and come up with new innovations, that provide livelihoods, that help a community develop, that help us live in peace, that close the door on exploitation, that give lives meaning and transform people’s values… These are all God’s gifts to us in business, and more!

 

This article was originally published in The BAM Review, © 2021, used with permission. More information is available at the BAM Review. https://businessasmission.com/


Category: Faith

About the Author ()

Website | Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the Business as Mission Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.