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Four Essentials of a Working Spirituality

by Peter Shaukat

Having hazarded a comment on the global and ecclesiastical context of our time and offered a rough and ready theology of work, I’d like to outline few suggested essentials of a working spirituality with a missional worldview for the professional or business person.

Embrace the Incarnation of Christ

The first essential is to embrace the incarnation of Christ. Specifically, devotionally, prayerfully to remember and internalize the fact that Jesus walks the Holy Land of your country, your marketplace, your professional sphere through you. You are his hands and feet. You are his mind and word. You are a channel of his redemption and restoration. His promise that we would do greater works than he did in Palestine is surely supported by his promise to be with us and evidenced by the work and witness of practicing Christians in every profession, especially in places where it’s still highly unlikely that the majority have ever seen a Christian engineer, teacher, or businessman.  Read more

The Spirituality of Professional Skills and Business

by Peter Shaukat

This short and surely inadequate article on the place of professional and business skills in spirituality and mission is essentially a plea for Christ-followers to demonstrate and proclaim a wholistic gospel and to pursue authentic whole-life discipleship. In many respects, it reflects one element of my own pilgrimage in mission, which might be described as a long pursuit of an answer to the question: “How do we integrate our Christian faith with our vocational talents and training in a life committed to the global mission enterprise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”

My journey thus far is still for me most memorably crystallized when, as a young engineer-in-training experiencing the breakout of Jesus in my personal world, I approached a mission agency leader with the question: “What should I do to serve Christ globally?” The answer I received then was to go to seminary for four years and then come back and see him. His answer may just possibly (but probably quite remotely) have had to do with his perception that perhaps I had certain “ministry gifts” needing development. However, with the passage of more than four decades since that conversation, I am inclined to believe that it had more to do with a pervasive, dichotomous, sacred-secular worldview rooted in Greek Platonic (and Buddhist/Hindu) thought than with the biblical, integrated notions of shalom, holiness, and service. Since then, by God’s grace, through observing the modeling of Christ’s virtues in the lives of hundreds of fellow-travelers, imbibing five decades of studying Scripture on a personal devotional level, embracing divinely appointed circumstances, and following personally chosen pathways on five continents, some progress in answering that question first posed in the 1970s is slowly being made.  Read more

A Potluck Approach: Engaging the Marginalized with Meaningful Work

by Stu Minshew

Work is good, and we are called to glorify God through the work that we do, but what does that look like in our day-to-day lives as entrepreneurs and Kingdom businesspeople? A new book by Michael Rhodes and Robby Holt, Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give, has challenged me to intentionally consider how I can provide employment opportunities for those on the margins of society. Today, I want to share two key takeaways for as we seek to engage those on the margins through our work.

Where Do We Start: Potluck vs. Soup Kitchen

No matter where we live and work, we are surrounded by those in need. Many individuals, and even entire groups of people, live on the margins of our society. There are those who have committed crimes and served time in jail, those treated as inferior because of their race or ethnicity, members of low-income communities, single moms, and the elderly. Almost everywhere in the world, these individuals are afforded less encouragement and fewer opportunities for work, and are often prevented from even pursuing meaningful work.

How should Christians respond? We must start by realizing the value inherent in each individual, a value that comes from the fact that they are created and loved by God. As His followers, we are also called to love them and we demonstrate that love in the way we engage them.  Read more

Business as Mission and the Three Mandates

We know that businesses can fail and hurt people (Enron) and harm nature (BP). But it is equally true that we all depend on businesses, and that they can do good. The woman in Proverbs 31 was an astute businesswoman whose ventures served individuals and her community.

The Quakers practiced a kind of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) long before academics developed the term. Their motto was ‘spiritual & solvent’. They served God and people in and through business.

Even Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations and sometimes called the “father of capitalism”, said that business should operate within a framework of fair play, justice and rule of law, and that businesses exist to serve the general welfare.

The computer pioneer Dave Packard said: “Many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being. People get together and exist as a company so that they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately – they make a contribution to society.” Read more

Creating Wealth that Reaches Beyond the Dollar Sign

by Joseph Vijayam

BAM Conference 2018 Speaker, September 21-23 – Visit bamconference.com

We who form the Church of Jesus Christ are called to usher in the kingdom of God in all its fullness. Bringing in the kingdom requires the Body of Christ to do many things. One of these is to create wealth.

In Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul uses the imagery of marriage when he refers to Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom betrothed to His bride, the Body of Christ. We are the friends of Christ the Bridegroom, and in that special role we have been entrusted with the task of hastening the day of His wedding. It requires us to work towards preparing the bride so that she is ready and spotless. This happens when the hearts of people across all nations, tribes and tongues are yielded to His Lordship. To this end, we must preach the gospel, make disciples, free the oppressed, feed the hungry, serve those in need and bring in righteousness and justice to all people.

God will do the above through those that fear Him. Wealth is one of the important resources that He grants to His people to accomplish His purpose for all mankind. Wealth is needed to fight poverty which is the primary characteristic of Satan’s kingdom – an antithesis of God’s design and desire for us to enjoy abundant life.

Poverty is often not the result of the sin committed by the person who lives in poverty, but it is a sign that Satan is active in stealing, killing and destroying in order to perpetuate poverty around the world. The good news is designed to provide relief to the poor (Isa 61:1-4). This includes those who are economically poor, the hungry, thirsty, naked and homeless as well as those who are broken hearted, restless and in bondage to sin (Mt 25:35-36). While the anointing breaks spiritual yoke (Isa 10:27), money is needed to break material yoke. Read more

Excerpt from Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation

Intentional Stewardship

Along with the spiritual, financial, and social bottom line, the environmental bottom line is an integral measure of a God-centered successful business. The subject of this series is wealth creation for holistic transformation. The work of wealth creators includes sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus, improving the financial wellbeing of society and the staff within their companies, providing the dignity of work and the stability that ensues from meaningful long term employment, developing a society where we love each other as we love ourselves, and providing the clean energy, water, air and land on which we live. The wealth creator acknowledges this inextricably linked web of relationship with Christ, society and creation.

Environmental stewardship, then, is not an add-on. It is not part of a marketing plan to ‘look good’. It is a God-given command to steward his creation. By affirming one’s business and passion for wealth creation as an important part of the business ecology and an instrument in meeting the cultural mandate, creation will be restored and opportunities for wealth creation will be seen. Each business run by wealth creators has a specialty, a God-gift, and points of excellence that can be applied to a pressing environmental issue. A transportation company can work on innovative fuel efficiency and improve transportation of needed medicines. A restaurant can source its food stocks with care,[i] and reduce food waste by supporting the food bank with excess, then composting the rest. An office can install passive cooling, energy efficient lighting and provide incentives to reduce commuting or increase the use of less polluting transport for their employees. Companies have the advantage of scale and resources to do much good quickly. Environmental discipline is financial discipline (conservation of resources), social discipline (respect of local communities and the resources under their stewardship), and spiritual discipline (obeying God’s commandment to steward the earth). The bottom lines are integral and are split into four for convenience, but not in practice. A company is not truly profitable until it affects a positive return in each bottom line. Stewardship is intentional and requires discipline to carry it out. Sustainable living is to ‘aim for a full, just and responsible enjoyment of the amazing gifts that our generous God has provided for us.’[ii] Read more

Excerpt from Wealth Creation and Justice

Righteous Business

Justice. Righteousness. Scripture often treats these as synonyms. Yet each is distinct. To be just means one has avoided breaking the law, and has fulfilled the law. It conveys an absence of culpability. Righteousness, by contrast, implies a larger, fuller standard of behavior. It subsumes justice, but adds the love-motivated behaviors that represent the very heart of God’s kingdom. Righteousness is a higher standard than justice, applicable to those with ‘ears to hear’. We see this distinction play out quite clearly in Scripture’s guidance to business people.

The Bible has quite serious things to say to employers regarding just compensation of workers. God frequently and emphatically condemns businesspeople who take advantage of their workers, particularly through exploitive compensation:

‘Why have we fasted’, they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers (Isa 58:3, NIV; emphasis added).

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty (James 5:4, NIV; emphasis added).

Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts’ (Mal 3:5, ESV; emphasis added). Read more

Excerpt from Wealth Creation within Global Cultural Perspectives

Kingdom Values Trump Mere Cultural Values

All the participants and all the case studies used in this paper show a very strong adherence to the supremacy of Kingdom values over culture. Biblical wealth creation demanded, even in challenging cross-cultural situations, that whenever a cultural value came into conflict with a cultural norm, then the cultural norm must bow. Biblical values were transcendent and universal.

Unsurprisingly, empirical research by secular sources has echoed this insistence on the reality of universal values. Rushworth Kidder’s research with the Institute for Global Ethics, for instance, shows five core values shared universally: honesty (or truth or integrity), responsibility, respect, fairness, and compassion.[i]

Amongst the practitioners we interviewed,[ii] the most commonly noted biblical values relevant to the task of wealth creation were the following:

Integrity

The issue of ‘corruption’ is frequently mentioned as a chief concern. Its reality was clear, and numerous business leaders expressed their determination to fight it, even at the cost of significantly endangering the official permissions necessary for their projects. Encouragingly, despite the risks, there were numerous testimonies of the eventual success of these same projects. Moreover, their stance for integrity earned them the added advantage of the good reputation, both for their businesses and the God they represented. Read more

Breaking Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

by Mike Baer

Adapted from material first published on the Third Path Blog, as part of a series, reposted with kind permission.

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

You don’t have to go very far today to hear some reference to the ‘sacred-secular divide’ or the ‘sacred-secular dichotomy.’ It’s in all the books, blogs, conferences – and occasionally in a sermon. And it’s always in a negative connotation.

So what exactly is the sacred-secular divide? In one sense, it’s impossible to define. It’s a kind of culture, a nuance, an entirely too subtle way of looking at life, vocation and ministry. It’s a shadow that covers many other aspects of our lives. It seems innocuous, but it’s not. The divide is a false dichotomy, a false worldview, an infection in the minds of Jesus’ followers that has done incalculable damage to the cause of the Church.

However, we can at least approximate the meaning of the divide in this way. It is a view of life built on a separation or distinction between those things, people and places someone believes to be sacred (holy and of God) and those believed to be secular (worldly and not of God). Certain callings are holy (missionary, pastor) and others are secular, i.e. of the world and therefore unholy (business, medicine, construction, etc). Certain places are sacred as well—church buildings, graveyards, seminaries while others are secular—my house, your house, schools, and athletic stadiums. I know you might like the sentiment, but a candle lit in a church building is no more holy or special to God than a candle on my 2 year old grandson’s birthday cake. Caution: if that statement offends you, then you are living in the divide. In short, it is all about distinctions and separations and classes and castes. Read more

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide? 3 Short Videos

The sacred-secular divide is an unbiblical way of thinking about the world that pervades the modern church globally. It deeply affects the way we think about business and work and is one of the most frequently mentioned barriers to understanding and engagement in business as mission. In the coming weeks we will hear stories and teaching that will help to break down the sacred-secular divide. These three short videos, each just a few minutes long, will help answer the question, What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

Mark Greene: Imagine – London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

The sacred-secular divide is the pervasive belief that some things are really important to God, and that other things aren’t… 

Read more

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