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

Walking through the Wardrobe: Six Keys to the King’s Economy

Excerpt from Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give.

Rahab was the prostitute living in the walls of Jericho when the Israelite spies showed up… who one day looked out the window and saw another kingdom invading, a kingdom with another king.

A Kingdom within a Kingdom

Today, each one of us is a bit like Rahab. We live in one kingdom, a kingdom of this world. When we look out the window and see King Jesus and his kingdom headed our way, we’re confronted with the same question Rahab faced: Whose side am I on? Nobody can swear ultimate allegiance to more than one king. “No one can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24).

Actually, our situation is a bit more complicated than Rahab’s. Jesus has already invaded the city. Furthermore, Jesus hasn’t come simply to obliterate the human kingdoms we’ve grown up in; he’s come to conquer and reclaim them. After all, every throne, dominion, ruler, or authority – on earth and in heaven – was created by and for him (see Col. 1:16–18). And at the end of the biblical story, we find the “kings of the earth” bringing their “splendor” into the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21:24). And most importantly for our purposes in this book, our role isn’t simply to accept the invading King and then abandon the communities in which we live. Our role is to swear allegiance to Jesus and become, as the church, an outpost, a colony of the Jesus kingdom, amidst the kingdoms of the world. We are to declare in our words, our actions, and our lives together that “there is another king” (Acts 17:7), and he’s on his way to reclaim what’s his. Through lives lived under the rule of Jesus, we invite every other kingdom to join us in pledging allegiance to our world’s rightful Lord.  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

Where Does Your Business Fit in God’s Economy?

by Dave Kahle

Excerpted from Dave’s book The Good Book on Business

It is the early moments of creation. God is busy at work, creating the universe, and has just created his most complex entity: Man. Or, more specifically, the man Adam. He is a special creature, made in the image and likeness of God himself and placed at the very top of the created world.

How will God relate to Adam and his progeny? Will he create some special organization, like a church, and command Adam to worship him? Will he give Adam a family and expect that in the myriad decisions of raising children and getting along with his spouse Adam will seek him out for wisdom and guidance and thereby seek a relationship with God? What will God do with Adam? For what purpose did God create him?

He will give Adam a job. First, a lifetime purpose and then a specific task that contributes to that purpose. Then within the context of that job, God will work with Adam, speak to him, relate to him, and work together with him.

In other words, God created work—and by extension, business—as the venue in which God would speak with man, relate to man, and work with man.

Let us take a look:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
(Gen. 2:15) Read more

God in Your Foundational Statements

by Dave Kahle

There is a certain power and attractiveness that accrues to those folks who take a stand and publicly express it. That’s called leadership, and the world is full of people looking for a leader. There is something compelling about a person who is committed to a cause that is bigger than just himself, who has the courage to declare that commitment not only for himself but on behalf of those in his sphere of influence, and to do so publicly for anyone who wants to hear it. The impact can be incalculable — spreading across geographies and dripping down into several generations.

Of course, we’ve all seen this principle in our lives — significant people influencing multitudes with the strength of the commitment to a cause. My mind leaps to Billy Graham on the positive side, and Hitler on the negative. These are grand-scale examples, but there are scores of others in our families and communities who don’t get the same level of notoriety, but for whom the principle is just as operative.

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 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

Business and Shalom

by Roxanne Addink de Graaf

Business and Shalom are seldom seen in the same sentence. Shalom is a word more often heard in church than in the marketplace.

However, just coming from a visit with entrepreneurs in Liberia, I’m more convinced than ever of the vital role of business in bringing about true shalom, the shalom God calls us to build here on Earth. Shalom should be a driving force behind the mission of every business, and shalom provides an excellent framework for a wholistic, multiple bottom line kingdom-building business.

The Biblical vision for “shalom” goes beyond our common understanding of peace. As the Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff writes, “Shalom is the human being dwelling at peace in all his relationships: with God, with self, with fellows, with nature… shalom is not merely the absence of hostility…at its highest it is enjoyment in one’s relationships.” (from Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Wolterstorff, 1983)

Relationships are at the heart of shalom, and the marketplace is a place of relationships. We will not achieve a true vision of shalom if we don’t achieve shalom in business, and as Christians in business, we need to be leading this crusade.

Wolterstorff goes on in his essay to describe shalom as a rich and joyous state of right relationship (justice), delight in service of God, the human community and the creation around us. Shalom is not a peaceful spiritual state where physical needs aren’t met, where people are still hungry, injustices prevail or work is no more. Rather, our right relationship with nature involves work and reward. Wolterstorff reflects that the Biblical shalom includes “shaping the world with our labor and finding fulfilment in doing so,” as well as enjoying the fruit of our labor, celebrating with “a banquet of rich fare for all the people.” (Isaiah 25:6) Read more

Foundations: An Act of Worship

by Mike Baer

Like Business as Mission, the term Business as Worship has many meanings. As I listen to speakers and read current writing it seems that these fall rather easily into two major thought buckets:

1. Business or Work as an Act of Worship

2. Business or Work as an Act of Spreading the Worship of God

These are by no means mutually exclusive nor are they contradictory. In fact, both are wonderfully true and accurate. They are simply looking at the near term versus the eternal.

An Act of Worship

The core idea here is that worship, the act and attitude of ascribing worth to God and of prostrating ourselves, literally and figuratively, is not at all limited to what happens in a church building on Sunday morning. Singing, praying, listening to the Word of God and giving are all recognized forms of worship. But what about loving others and serving others? Or providing for our families and generating income for employees? What about honest labor? Accurate scales? Are not all of these also acts of worship? Indeed, when we speak of work as worship we are building on the Biblical truth that all of life, every single bit of living is meant to be done from a heart of submission to God and affection for Christ and our fellow man. All of life, except for sin, is in fact worship.

Read more