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Business is a human activity that
involves policy setting, decision making, influencing change, and growth or
impact reporting efforts, all of which should be done with legitimacy,
responsibility, and accountability.1
However, the name of business has been tainted and many view it as a trade to
be avoided. From corporate greed to environmental devastation, it is no secret
that the world of business has been corrupted. Although this is true, it begs
the question: can business still be used for good? Many Christian skeptics of
business oppose this idea and assume that the business world can never be
salvaged from its corruption and that it is the source of much damage and evil
in the world.2
Most of these same skeptics would argue that God feels the same way. At first
glance, a marriage of business leadership philosophy and the virtues of
Christian servanthood would seem doomed to fall apart on the basis of
irreconcilable differences.3
Yet, there are important passages within the Bible that suggest that business
is, in fact, important towards achieving God’s ultimate plan. It, therefore,
must be possible to blend the values of both traditions: Christianity and
business. This is known to be true because not all businessmen are solely in it
for the money: there are some who take delight in using their money and their
talents for the assistance and welfare of other people.4

How, then, can Christians approach
business in a responsible way? First, one must start at the very beginning:
Genesis 1. Here lies the evidence that God intended business to play a role in
His plan. Second, in order to understand where business is going, one must understand
God’s desire for business today. This includes understanding where business has
gone wrong in the past and why God wants to utilize it now. Third, one must
have an idea of the practical ways in which business can achieve this desire.

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There are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration to not only
run a business with Christian goals and morals, but also to keep the business
afloat and to turn a profit. With all this being considered, it is possible for
the goals of Christians and business to align.

Genesis reveals some important
truths about God’s ultimate desires for work and business in everyday life.

Traditionally, business has been seen as a selfish, evil practice. Work and
business have been deeply affected by the reality of sin. However, sin has not
made it evil but it has tarnished the original design for work.5
Business and work was originally intended to be part of God’s ultimate plan.

Genesis teaches us this in four powerful ways. First,  it shows us that the material world matters
to God.6
Throughout the book, God creates and says that it is good. Clearly the material
world matters to God and when businesses produce material things that enhance
the welfare of the community, they are engaged in work that matters to God. 7All
valid work is sacred to God.8
Second, it shows us that human beings are called to steward God’s creation.9
Genesis clearly shows how the whole world was created by God. It also shows
that Adam and Eve were not just passive beneficiaries of God’s creation. Instead,
they were given a role to play. This role is that of being stewards of God’s
creation. As said in Genesis 2:15, God gave human beings dominion over His
creation, with the responsibility to be partners with Him in extending His rule
over all creation and with this came the obligation of stewardship.10
Third, Genesis tells us that human beings are made in the image of God.

Multiple times throughout the Bible it is said that God created man in His own
image. Before the beginning of time, God in three persons was.11
All three persons were and are in intimate relationships with each other.

Humans beings made in the image of God are also, thus, inherently relational.12
For this reason, business must flow from relationships and be shaped in a way
that flows back to community.13
Another aspect of the image of God is that He was a worker. Genesis 2:2-3 says
that on the seventh day God rested from all the work of creating He had done.

Humans were not designed to just sit around in the garden; they were assigned
the opportunity to work from the very beginning. Finally, the fourth truth
revealed in Genesis is that the garden is incomplete. In the last few chapters
it talks about the certain tasks humans are assigned. One example of these
tasks is when, in Genesis 1:18, Adam and Even were to subdue and rule over the
created order. This task was given by God to humanity as a blessing.14
As originally designed, the garden was not God’s endpoint. Nowhere in the Bible
does it say that the garden was perfect, merely that “it is good”. This is
because God’s plan is not yet finished. God designed humans to partner with Him
in building His ultimate kingdom. In summary, the business culture is not to be
marked off as a realm of evil, nor a realm that needs to be destroyed. From the
beginning God had a plan for business and work as part of the growing of His
kingdom.

             
Work and business have great value because they are a significant part
of the mandate to human beings to be responsible stewards over God’s creation.15
There are three important roles that God intended business to play in the
world. The first is to honor Him. The distinction between business and ministry
is a widespread and erroneous notion in today’s churches.16
The belief that in order for people to maximize their impact for God’s kingdom
they must go into full time “ministry” is not true in the slightest. Colossians
3:23 says that whatever you do, do
for the Lord not men. No matter the career or job, it can be done to glorify
and expand the kingdom of God. This include business. A Christian’s work should
be far more than just a livelihood; it is an opportunity to honor God through
performance.17 A
Christian’s attitude toward work should be a good advertisement, not for his or
herself but rather for God.18
The second role is to serve God as well as others. Virtually the entire Bible
tells the story of God’s efforts to restore the relationships that God desired
from the beginning. A theology of business must be set in the context of God’s
desire to restore a loving relationship.19
This starts with having a servant heart. Christians should strive to be good
and faithful servants.20
Business in its nature is a servant. It is a servant to its customers,
employees, community, government, and, if it has the vision to see it, a
servant of God.21
Part of being a servant of God includes being a servant of His creation.

Environmental consideration has been primarily viewed as a constraint that is
to be avoided.22
Responsible use of the environment’s resources is permissible to support the
production of services and products that are driven by and result in human
flourishing. However, the relationship with the environment is reciprocal.

Business too must be an active partner in serving the environment.23
The third role is to prepare for the future. In Proverbs God calls His people
to learn His will, to set their minds on doing His will and to conduct and
commit their plans to Him.24
While only God knows the future perfectly, people are to prepare and plan for
the future in a way that honors His desire for them to serve others as they
rule and exercise dominion over His creation.25
In a sense, all of life is preparation for the future. 26

            More than any other industry,
business is likely to shape the face of the world.27
It is because of this that reshaping the way business is done in the world is
so crucial. Overcoming the corruption is not only possible, but should also be
relatively easy. Most business people have good intentions and basically know
right from wrong.28
However, Christians are not called to do the bare minimum, instead they are
called to go above and beyond for God’s glory. There are certain criteria that
Christians can use to see whether or not their goals align with the goals of
business:

1.     Does the business make a profit?
Although the Bible teaches to give and to serve our neighbors, business must be
able to turn a profit. Without profit, there can be no expansion in good.29
Profits should come as a reward for providing commodities or services that are
beneficial to the person who buys them.30 

2.    
Are
profits earned fairly and honorably? Keeping one’s business afloat under
economic pressure without compromising one’s standards of fair dealing with
customers, partners, and employees can be difficult but is possible.31
It all has to do with good leadership. Good leadership starts by determining
the organizational mission. This is the purpose that guides the organization’s
choice process in every area, and influences every decision. It also includes
implementing, monitoring and controlling strategies.32
Defining goals and implementing strategies based on biblical values and
principles ensures that the Christian mission is integrated into all aspects of
the business. The leadership that frees people to be their best,  affirms them in their diversity, and  includes them in the dreams, decisions and
benefits the organization is servant leadership and is essential for running a
profitable business the way God intended.33

3.     Are the profits dispensed or
invested with justice and wisdom?34
A steward protects organizational wealth and satisfies stakeholders’ interests
and work through structures that facilitate and empower God’s creation.35There
are several steps to achieve this: trust in God, see life as an integrated
whole, recognize the roles you play, understand God’s values, understand the
world’s values, and act on what is right.36

            God-given interests and abilities
lead many to choose entrepreneurial and business professions as their way of
working for others, serving their neighbor, and glorifying God. This choice
commits them to thinking out the best and most consistent application of the
Christian purpose in business.37
That is, living out God’s ultimate desires for business by honoring Him,
serving Him, and running a sustainable and profitable business that benefits
creation. Through these actions and seeking the Lord’s guidance in their lives,
business people can better avoid falling into the corrupt, evil stigma of bad
business, and instead rise to the challenge of smart, ethical business that
further grows the kingdom of God.

1 1 Belle,
Stuart M. “Knowledge Stewardship as an Ethos-Driven Approach to Business
Ethics.” (Journal of Business Ethics, 2017) 1.

2 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 11

3 Childs,
James M. Ethics in Business Faith At Work. Minneapolis (Augsburg
Fortress Press, 1995) 73.

4 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 23.

5 Wong, Kenman L, and Scott B Rae. Business
for The Common Good (Illinois: InterVarsity Press,2011) 63.

6 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 28.

7 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 28-29.

8 Wong, Kenman L, and Scott B Rae. Business
for The Common Good (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2011) 57.

9 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 29

10 Wong, Kenman L, and Scott B Rae. Business
for The Common Good (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2011) 233.

11 Van Duzer, Jeff. Why business matters to God. (Illinois.:
InterVarsity Press, 2010) 31.

12 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 32.

13 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 32.

14Van Duzer, Jeff. Why business matters to God. (Illinois.:
InterVarsity Press, 2010) 35.

15 Wong, Kenman L, and Scott B Rae. Business
for The Common Good (Illinois: InterVarsity Press,2011) 63.

16 Wong, Kenman L, and Scott B Rae. Business
for The Common Good (Illinois: InterVarsity Press,2011) 59.

17 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 14.

18 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 14.

19 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 27.

20 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 24.

21 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 23.

22 Wong, Kenman L, and Scott B Rae. Business
for The Common Good (Illinois: InterVarsity Press,2011) 238.

23 Wong, Kenman L, and Scott B Rae. Business
for The Common Good (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2011) 239.

24 Chewning,
Richard C. Biblical Principles and Business (Colorado: NavPress, 1990) 30.

25  Chewning, Richard C. Biblical Principles and Business
(Colorado: NavPress, 1990) 30.

26  Chewning, Richard C. Biblical Principles and Business
(Colorado: NavPress, 1990) 30.

27 Van Duzer, Jeff.

Why business matters to God. (Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2010) 20.

28 Van Wensveen Siker, Louke. “Christ and Business:
A Typology for Christian Business Ethics.” (Journal Of Business
Ethics 8, no 11, 1989) 3.

29 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 29.

30 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 31.

31 Chewning,
Richard C. Biblical Principles and Business (Colorado: NavPress, 1990) 19.

32 Chewning, Richard C. Biblical Principles and Business
(Colorado: NavPress, 1990) 40-41.

33 Childs, James M. Ethics in Business Faith At Work.

Minneapolis (Augsburg Fortress Press, 1995) 75.

34 Mitchell, John E. The
Christian In Business. (New Jersey: F.H. Revell Co, 1962) 28.

35 Belle, Stuart M. “Knowledge
Stewardship as an Ethos-Driven Approach to Business Ethics.” (Journal
of Business Ethics, 2017) 4.

36 Dayton, Edward R. Succeeding in Business Without
Losing Your Faith. (Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 1992) 181.

37 Chewning, Richard C. Biblical Principles and
Business (Colorado: NavPress, 1990) 19.

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