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, which is why we are focusing on BAM and Creation Care again on The BAM Review this month.
A Basis for Creation Care
The way we view God, human beings and creation will determine how we relate to people, businesses and environmental challenges.
We believe in God the Creator, thus we speak about Creation. He is also the Sustainer, he has not abandoned creation.
We believe that man is created in his image, and thus has a unique value and dignity.
We also believe that Adam and Eve – and all of humanity – are to be co-creators with God, to be good stewards of creation, to create good things for others and ourselves.
This applies to creativity in business, to not only create wealth, but also to create solutions to poverty, human trafficking, water management, air pollution, and many other things.
Worldview and Nature
Ideas have consequences. Our worldview affects our behavior. Our beliefs shape our actions. This also applies to the way we see business, treat staff and customers, and care for the environment.
It is not a Biblical worldview to see human beings as creatures with a license to exploit and damage nature. Nor is it a Biblical worldview to see people as equal to dogs, carrots and cockroaches, as just one species among others.
Diagrams via Dave Bookless
Instead the Bible gives us a picture of human beings as part of God’s creation, with a special value and dignity deriving from God, and a special responsibility to care for creation.
Creativity in business is not only about creating wealth, but also to creating solutions to poverty, human trafficking, water management, air pollution, and many other things.
More Work Needed
Through the BAM Global Think Tank we have learned that we need to become more aware of these issues and also to become more intentional and pro-active as good stewards of the planet.
Research has shown that the environmental bottom-line often is neglected or less developed among many BAM businesses. Thus BAM Global is putting an emphasis on BAM and creation care in research, writing and publications.
In 2016 and 2017, BAM Global and Lausanne organized a global consultation various aspects of wealth creation.
This Wealth Creation Consultation produced seven papers and one of them, Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation deals with business and creation care. It also includes encouraging case studies.
The Consultation was summarized in a Wealth Creation Manifesto, with affirmation #11 stating: “Creation care is not optional. Stewardship of creation and business solutions to environmental challenges should be an integral part of wealth creation through business.”
There is a need to be a prophetic voice at times, but also a time to pro-actively pursue business solutions to environmental challenges, to innovate and commercialize.
“Whether it is addressing pollution, desertification, shortages or misallocation of resources, businesspersons can bring their God-given talents to love the people of this earth and restore creation through innovative business ideas. ‘Nature is a library of patents and ideas.’ … Wealth creators are called to use their skills, creativity, and resources to address some of the world’s environmental and sustainability challenges, and to participate in God’s restoration of creation.” – excerpt from Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation
Thus God’s call to business includes a call to creation care, a seamless integration of the four bottom lines.
“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’. … 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. A company is not profitable if it causes excessive environmental degradation; its balance sheet might look all right financially, but it has not counted all its costs on the planet and the people. Wealth creators know that the four bottom lines—spiritual, environmental, social, and financial—are interwoven.” – excerpt from Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation
We are Not Fear Mongers
We know from history that many doomsday scenarios have not come to pass. Assuming a closed system, where man alone controls destiny, the Israelites would have been massacred as they were caught between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. In a closed system water doesn’t turn into wine and the dead don’t rise.
We see human beings as stewards and co-creators with God; we can and should bring solutions to environmental challenges.
Many doomsday scenarios are based on a non-Biblical worldview. They are deterministic, fatalistic and assume a closed system where man controls his destiny and the future of the planet. This leads to despair.
But we believe in a God who cares and intervenes. We see human beings as stewards and co-creators with God; we can and should bring solutions to environmental challenges. This gives hope.
“Businesspeople must take back leadership as conservers and re-creators. Creation care is too precious, too holy, to be left to doomsayers and nihilists, whether secular or those Christians that say we do not need to care because Jesus is coming soon and will replace the current world with his.” – excerpt from Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation
We need a Biblical worldview to infuse us with hope for creating solutions – co-creating with a God who cares for creation.
This blog is a repost and was first published on The BAM Review in October 2018.
Mats Tunehag is a speaker, writer, and consultant from Sweden who has worked in more than half the countries of the world. A global thought leader for the Business as Mission movement for over twenty years, he is chair of BAM Global and has led two Global BAM Think Tanks. Tunehag has served as a senior leader in BAM for both the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Alliance, and was the convener of the Global Consultation on the Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation. Tunehag serves part time with a global investment fund that helps SMEs to grow in size and holistic impact in the Arab world and Asia. Visit www.MatsTunehag.com to find out more.