by Dave Kahle
“Our business should just make money so that we can give it away” – that’s the message our contemporary evangelical culture teaches us. Those who look for a higher purpose in their business may find this message easy to accept but is this message actually short-sighted and missing the mark on all God has for Christian owned businesses?
There are books written advocating that the sole purpose of a business is to make money to fund religion. What if God has a much larger and full purpose for business? It is easy to conclude from the Biblical theme of giving that the sole purpose of our businesses is to give. And besides, it feels good and gives great CSR standing in the community! With so much support for the idea, it’s no wonder that most Christian business people believe it.
But is our perspective skewed?
Could it be that this giving paradigm, that feels good and seems reasonable, is actually hindering our growth and thwarting the growth of the Kingdom?
If we could unleash the potential of Christian owned and influenced businesses to see themselves as powerful entities in the Kingdom with multiple bottom lines (Social, Spiritual, Economic, and Environmental) as opposed to merely a Kingdom check-book, we could turn the world upside down. Here are some consequences of the short-sighted view of the Business as money-giver paradigm.
Consequences of the ‘business as money-giver’ paradigm:
Consequence #1: It elevates money to the highest priority in business.
By stating that the purpose of a business is to make money so that you can give it away, money is elevated to the highest priority in business. Now, all of the other purposes of a business — to provide community, to develop future leaders, to bless communities, to demonstrate the fullness of Christ, etc. (find the full list in The Good Book on Business) — slide down the scale and become subservient to the quest to make money. While a business should make money, that is not its highest calling. A business only achieves its potential when it steps out of the money-is-everything mentality.
Consequence #2: It encourages a simplified compartmentalization view of business.
If you hold the simple view of business as a checkbook, only to give to the religious institutions, then you have a neat and easy demarcation between what you do on Monday through Saturday and what you do on Sunday. It is easy to hold that business is for making money without a developed vision for the business to have greater Kingdom purposes. With the simplified view, the only point of intersection is when the check is passed from one hand to the other.
This compartmentalized view of business is another reason why the Kingdom has been stymied. Since many Christians see their business as something separated from their Christianity, they often make decisions and institute practices that are not influenced by Christianity.
The most common complaint about Christians by non-Christians is leveled at church-goers and labels them as hypocrites. The compartmentalized view of business, promoted by this paradigm, contributes to that hypocrisy.
Consequence #3: It encourages non-scriptural giving.
Not to say it’s wrong but business giving, particularly giving to the local church or religious institution, is nowhere modeled in the Bible. The Bible does not speak to organizations giving to other organizations. Almost all of the giving in the Bible is one person giving to another. By institutionalizing the gift and the giftee, we take the power of personalization out of the gift. It becomes a tax write off and a P & L sheet notation, instead of a heartfelt expression of Christ’s love from one person to another.
There are reasons why the percentage of Christians has not increased even one percent in the last 30 years in the USA – in spite of $530 billion dollars spent by the institutional church system. One of the causes of this unacceptable situation is the institutionalization of giving, which is encouraged by the business as money-giver paradigm.
Consequence #4: It contorts face-value scriptural teaching.
In the parable of the bags of gold, the business people who grew the assets for which they were responsible were rewarded by more for which to be responsible and a closer relationship with the master. They were not rewarded for giving it away; they were rewarded for making it grow.
This passage teaches that God rewards businesses who reinvest their profits into growing the business. There is nothing wrong with giving, but it becomes an issue when it is made super spiritual over the face value teaching of the Bible.
Consequence #6: It lessens the reason for growth of our businesses and confines them to being just worldly entities.
A Biblical business can, and should, be so much more than just a money making entity. This view of a business limits the aspirations of the business owners. Since they don’t see their businesses as powerful Kingdom entities, they don’t aspire to that. And, since they don’t aspire to it, they don’t develop the business along biblical lines or with Kingdom vision. The first step to personal growth and business development is to want to become something more than you are now. The business as money machine mentality prevents the business owners from aspiring to be more.
Consequence #7: Ultimately, it hinders the growth of the Kingdom.
Tens of thousands of businesses are kept stunted and distracted by the business as money-maker mentality. They remain locked in a worldly view of their businesses. This stunts the growth of Christianity. Tens of thousands of businesses could be unleashed to develop leaders, grow people closer to God, and distribute God’s blessing to the stakeholders.
If we could unleash the potential of Christian owned and influenced businesses to see themselves as entities in the kingdom, we could turn the world upside down. Instead, we’re held captive by our own paradigms and beliefs. The idea that the purpose of a business is to give money to the religious institution is one of those paradigms.
Dave Kahle has been a Bible teacher, elder, house church leader, short-term missionary and Christian executive roundtable leader. For 30 years, he has been an authority on sales and sales systems, having spoken in 47 states and eleven countries. He has authored 13 books, including The Good Book on Business. Sign up for his weekly messages here. More from Dave at: www.davekahle.com.