A Cup of Cold Water: Business and the Stewardship of Creation

by Mark Polet

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

The purpose of this blog is to reflect and comment on the eleventh affirmation of the Wealth Creation Manifesto:

11. Creation care is not optional. Stewardship of creation and business solutions to environmental challenges should be an integral part of wealth creation through business.

The Wealth Creation Manifesto is an integrated whole, and so I would like to continue from Dr. Rod St. Hill’s blog on affirmations 7 and 8. Rod argues that the BAM movement is committed to the quadruple bottom line – economic, social, environmental and spiritual. He then quotes Amartya Sen, saying threats to environmental sustainability is an ‘unfreedom’ that must be overcome to foster development.

Creation is a gift from God. Eons ago, God created everything we need right now for our businesses. What are we going to do with the gift?’ Specifically, how do we “set the captives free” [1] answering the challenge given by Rod St. Hill?’

Part of the answer lies in Matthew 25:

‘35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Many of the unreached areas also have the highest water stress and/or the poorest air quality. [2] What if we as wealth creators provide clean water, clean air, clean food or clean energy to help people flourish? Think of the benefits of a restored creation along with restored hearts.

My colleague Anugraha Gaikwad and I have the pleasure of working with wealth creators who are doing this very thing. They are working with local community leaders in unreached areas. They are offering plastics recycling, clean water technology, waste-to-energy solutions, improved sanitation systems, waste-to-product initiatives, clean energy alternatives (both on shore and near shore), and products from natural sources. I challenge you as wealth creators to join your colleagues. Be the one to bring a cup of cold water and you will have the chance to share living water.

There is a consequence if we do not use our talents accordingly. I quote my colleague Revd. Dr. Dave Bookless [3],

‘(T)he later verses of the same parable (Matthew 25:41-46) “Depart from me you who are cursed … For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me’’ are equally applicable to BAM. If we fail to take account of the impact of our business activities on the poorest and most vulnerable, whether through causing pollution, over-exploiting natural resources, or putting profit above people and planet, we are judged by Jesus’ comments in these verses.’ [4]

Jesus does not mince words. The choice is ours as wealth creators. We must take into account our impact on the environment and use God’s gift of creation so all God’s creatures may be set free.

Creation groans. [5] Help make it sing. [6]

 

ENDNOTES

[1]  Luke 4:18-19

[2] soon to be published work by Mark Polet and Anugraha Gaikwad through BAM Global

[3] A Rocha. (2020). Revd Dr Dave Bookless.  available at  https://www.arocha.org/en/people/dave-bookless/

[4] Bookless, Dave. (2020). Email communication. 2020 June 23.

[5] Romans 8:22

[6] Psalm 19:1

More in this series:

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World
Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators
Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good
Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church
Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth
Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God
Business as Good News to the Poor

mark polet july 2018 031Mark Polet is a professional biologist with over 40 years of experience. Working on four continents, Mark and his wife Terri bridge cultures and traditions with people of good will to serve those who are spiritually and materially impoverished. Mark is passionate about bringing engineers, scientists, and business together to develop solutions to challenging environmental issues. Mark has the privilege to coordinate the BAM Global Creation Care Consultation. Prior to working in the impact business space, Mark & Terri owned a number of companies, including an environmental services company and an environmental consultancy.

 

 

 

Watch the Wealth Creation Classroom Series

The Lausanne Global Classroom on Wealth Creation is a series of short 2-5 minute videos based on the work of the Wealth Creation Consultation

More Resources

Download: PDF of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

Read: Wealth Creation Manifesto with Bible References

Read: Calling the Church to affirm Wealth Creators

Download: Wealth Creation Papers:

Click on image to open BAM Global Reports page

 

 

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Profile photo by Lucie Leduc

 

Turn Off the Lights to Share the Light: Why Good Environmental Practice is Great Business Practice

by Mark Polet

There is a misconception that good environmental management always costs money. Well, sometimes it does seem to cost when externalities are not costed fully (waste management, air and water pollution control) or when the company is not managed properly (contamination). 

Turn Off the Lights so You can Share the Light

However, there is another area of sound business management where good environmental management saves money. It’s called efficiency.

In short, turn off the lights.

It is easy for all of us to fall into complacency or just get too busy to really manage our costs, especially in the challenging places where you work. That is why we are looking for quick wins. The first quick win my colleagues and I have noted in working for Kingdom Companies is energy efficiency.

Turn off the lights when you leave! I find it remarkable how many times energy is wasted in companies, even where energy availability is inconsistent. We have seen whole factories lit up with not a soul in them.

Manage your air conditioning.  25°C (77°F) is often recommended, no cooler. If  you have your suit jacket on while you work at your desk, something may be wrong.

BAM is in the relationship business, and enrolling staff in Creation Care is one more step in discipleship.

Watch for phantom power costs. Turn off appliances when not in use. 

Many electronic appliances (i.e. monitor screens) are still drawing power even when ‘off’. If at all possible, shut off at the main plug.

Read more

Messy Site, Messy Company: Aiming for Environmental Excellence

by Mark Polet

When it comes to running a good business, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

I want to explore with you why you who are pursuing excellence in business need to weave good environmental practice into your operations.

Messy Site, Messy Company

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company. Because poor environmental practice is often quite visible in a disorderly site and disorganized operations, it is often the most evident warning bell to any investor or customer that something is wrong with this firm.

Why do I stay that? After over forty years of assessing companies for environmental excellence, including Kingdom-Oriented firms, there is one correlation in my experience that always holds.

If the site is a mess, the accounting is a mess.

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company.

A messy site means messed up books. I have reviewed firms across a score of industry groups. At times I will come across a  company that has an unkempt site. Sometimes it is debris lying around; other times it is  far worse, with spills contaminating the soil. In all cases, I find as I continue my audit that their financial records are equally messy, and their regulatory compliance is spotty at best. The management of their supply chain was poor. The amount of waste they generate, both in lost productivity and actual, physical waste, is evident.  Read more

Should Environmental Concerns Be a Priority for a Christian Business Owner?

In June this year, the Lausanne Movement gathered more than 700 Christian leaders from 109 nations in Manila for its Global Workplace Forum. Among the many topics discussed was where creation care should rank among other Christian concerns like evangelism and discipleship.

Should environmental concerns be a major priority for a Christian business owner? Here are the answers of Lausanne leaders:

 

Ed Brown, executive director of Care of Creation and Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care (United States):

Yes! Without question, for two reasons. The first is uniquely Christian: obedience. Taking care of God’s world by responsibly caring for God’s creatures (Genesis 1) and by “tending the garden” (Genesis 2) was our first assignment from God. Lausanne’s Cape Town Commitment appropriately calls caring for God’s world “a gospel issue under the lordship of Christ.” This first task has never been taken away from us. Christian business owners are to be more than sound financial stewards and Christlike shepherds of our workforce; we’re called to be keepers of God’s garden.

The second is not uniquely Christian, but important nonetheless: survival. Business owners need to be concerned for the survival of the business, but also for the survival of the human race, including their community, customer base, and their own children and grandchildren. Yes, profit is needed for economic survival, but profit can’t be made in a collapsing world. Economic activity is a root cause of the environmental crisis, and wise businesspeople recognize that environmental collapse threatens their own business’ future, as well as the lives of their own grandchildren. Those who can run their businesses in ways that do not damage God’s creation will both survive and prosper.

 

Las Newman, Lausanne’s Global Associate Director for Regions (Jamaica):

Yes. Good business makes good sense. How can a Christian business operator witness for Christ and at the same time abuse his workers, short-change his customers, ignore environmental standards, contribute to environmental pollution, and affect the ecological balance of nature? Good business depends on three things: profitability that ensures return on investment for growth and development; care for the welfare of the people who help to produce such return on investment (i.e., workers and customers); and good environment for business that enhances the quality of human life and honors the Lord. Business operators in the aviation, food handling, transportation, tourism, earth extractive, manufacturing, and retail industries, among others, now recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility and include a green policy agenda to their business, including support of the arts.  Read more

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

What If? Business Solutions to Environmental Problems

by Mark Polet

In the conversation around environmental impact for social enterprises, impact businesses, and indeed, BAM companies, there are two strands that integrate and weave around one another – like strands of DNA.

The first strand, addressed in my previous post, is that every impact business should be an environmental company, complying with the ethic and regulations around good environmental practice, acknowledging that we are stewards of God’s creation.

The other strand is the provision of environmental technology and solutions as a business opportunity in itself. Positive environmental impact can be achieved, not only through operational choices that care for creation and steward natural resources, but by the very product or service offered by the business.

Environmental Challenges are Business Opportunities

Peter Drucker said, “Every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise.” This is particularly true of the myriad environmental issues to be faced in our day.  Read more

Tikkun Olam: How Companies Can Repair the World

by Mark Polet

My good friend, Eric, and I recently walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain together with another of our friends. We were walking through the rolling plains near León, where we could see the pastures and fields for kilometres in every direction, bracketed on three sides by the coastal mountains, the Pyrénées and the hills of Galicia. God’s creation lay before us like an open book. Perhaps inspired by such a scene, Eric told me about the Hebrew concept of Tikkun Olam, ‘Repair the World’.

Repair the World

Romans 8 is pretty clear that the liberation and restoration of creation is integrated with our redemption. We in the impact business space have the profound privilege of repairing the world economically, spiritually, socially and environmentally, carrying out the commandment of ‘Working in the Garden,’ (Gen 2:15).

Let’s focus on how we as Impact Business leaders can ‘Repair the World’ from an environmental perspective. In 41 years of service, I have had the privilege helping companies from over 21 different industry types fulfil their environmental obligations, and in some cases, show environmental excellence.  Read more

Who Cares About Creation Care?

by Mats Tunehag

We know we are to be good stewards of creation. Those are God’s instructions to humans in Genesis 1 & 2 – especially Gen.1:28, often known as the ‘creation mandate’ (also ‘cultural mandate).

In the Business as Mission (BAM) movement we typically talk about the quadruple bottom line of social, spiritual, environmental and economic impact:

In and through business we want to:

  • serve people,
  • align with God’s purposes,
  • be good stewards of the planet,
  • and make a profit.

But how are we doing in the BAM community with stewardship of the planet? How are BAM companies leading the way in positive environmental change?

We know from our work in the BAM Global Network that creation care and environmental stewardship is a relatively weak area for BAM companies, and and that BAM practitioners feel under-resourced and overwhelmed by this challenge. Creation care is a topic in much need of further exploration in the BAM movement. This is why we are launching a blog series focused on BAM and Creation Care on The BAM Review in the coming month.  Read more