How do you think about business? There are several different ways to answer this question. Some might think of business as “the man” who uses and abuses his employees; others might think business has great value. Still others might think that our society could do without business altogether. It might be more interesting to know and consider that God greatly cares about business. He also, like a loving Father, cares about people. Therefore God cares about the practice, structures, and values of businesses. In His design He has given business a specific purpose in our world.
In “Why Business Matters to God,” a lecture at the Center for Faith & Work in New York City, Jeff Van Duzer explains the purpose and practice of business. His focus is on both those who work in and those who lead a business. He answers the following 2 topics:
- Why business matters
- How should business be done?
Here’s a short summary:
Answering “Why business matters ” clarifies the purpose of business. First, the answer is founded in the Creation Mandate which is given in Genesis 1 and 2. Work was an intentional assignment to people. People working is an important “imaging of God.” Our Heavenly Father works and makes things. This work happens in creative and meaningful ways. So we like Him, as His people, are called to be engaged in work which is expressed in creative and meaningful ways.
Secondly, God’s work happens in relationship. The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) are not only in perfect relationship but work perfectly together. The result is that all of God’s work proceeds from relationship and is intended to come back for the benefit of relationship. This is the same way God has made people—both me and you. In our work, we are to participate in relationships with others, just as God works in the Trinity. And through those relationships, our work returns back to benefit us.
Based upon these two observations Van Duzer concludes that the purpose of business can be summarized in this way: to bring people together in relationship and give opportunity for people to express their gifts for meaningful and creative work. Businesses are therefore an avenue through which God works. Their existence is to produce goods and services for communities to flourish. Their purpose is to serve people. The different fields—engineering, finance, service industry, and education—are simply different avenues through which people are served. Establishing this purpose also defines profits. As Van Duzer explains, profits become the means that provide the capital which enables businesses to serve people in communities and cities.
In answering “How should business be done” Van Duzer uses an illustration that all New Orleanians can easily understand. The practice of businesses is best understood to be like the New Orleans levee system. The levees keep rushing water in control and guard against the flooding of our city. The practice of business is about establishing boundaries within which the businesses operate. Like a levee system, these limits for businesses result in protection against harming people, communities, and cities.
Businesses shape the world we live in. Their impact is on both young and old. In fact every single person in the world is affected by businesses. Since many multi-national companies’ resources are larger than most countries, business leaders possess the resources needed to solve the world’s big problems. As a result business leaders are poised to be some of the most effective world changers. These leaders could guide their boards and employees to funnel a business’ resources in a direction for a profound impact. This important difference would impact our communities and cities in many ways. Remember, the purpose of every business is to serve people. Business matters to God. People matter to God. Therefore businesses matter to people and people matter to businesses. God matters to both.
Watch “Why Business Matters to God ” full lecture
- Why Work Matters, a related blog
- Hope for Your Work, a sermon by Tim Keller
- When Our Men are Stirred, Our City will be Changed, a related blog
- Why Business Matter to God by Jeff Van Duzer