They are the bad guys in the movies, the subject of great debate among our politicians, and often criticized by those who cannot relate in the U.S. Who are these people? Owners, presidents, and CEO’s, and the business community. With such a negative undertone in our culture about business, it begs the question, “What is God’s purpose for business?”
In 2012, when God called me back into business after two failed businesses, I was not interested. I used every bible verse about wisdom, stewardship, and taking care of my family that I could against him. Ultimately, I told him, “No!”However, God had other plans. A few short months after I had declared, to God, that he would have to take my great paying job away before I started another business, I found myself without a job, income, and any more excuses. I reluctantly jumped into business for the third time.
This time, though, I was determined to do it God’s way – for God’s glory – not my own. This began my exploration into of what it meant to do business God’s way and what his purpose is for business today.
The following four questions, and their answers, have greatly guided me on the path toward discovering what God’s purpose for business is inside his Kingdom. Explore this idea with me, and share your thoughts in the comments below…
What is the purpose of business?
Business’ primary purpose is to create wealth. Business fills many purposes. It meets needs, provides comforts, creates jobs, builds an economy, and the list could go on and on. However, the primary purpose of business is to create wealth. Ultimately, if a business is not generating wealth, it is not a business and can do none of the other purposes I’ve just mentioned.
So, If the purpose of business is to create wealth, what’s the purpose of wealth?
Most people want more money. Most people want to be wealthy. Is it money they want or is it what money can provide in their life that they really want? I’ve learned, more often than not, it is the later.
People want money because they want freedom in their life. They want to enjoy their life doing what they want, when they want to do it, with whomever they want. In fact, this is often what inspires an entrepreneur to start a business. He wants the freedom and business creates wealth, which also creates freedom.
Alright then, what’s the purpose of freedom?
Does freedom have a purpose? You bet it does! Freedom is the most dangerous asset a person or group of people can have if it’s not given a purpose. We see this demonstrated every day in the lives of actors, athletes, and musicians. These professions have generated massive amounts of wealth and freedom, and whenever this freedom is not given a purpose, it creates destruction in every area of life.
So what is God’s purpose for freedom?
The world can come up with a lot of purposes for freedom, but we’re searching for God’s purpose not the world’s purpose. In Exodus 9:1 God said to moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.”
Think about this for a minute. In history was there ever a time where freedom was used for something other than to worship and serve God that it ended well? I’m not an expert in all the world’s history, but I can’t think of any. Even in our own country we can see the fruits of using freedom for a purpose other than to worship and serve God. It doesn’t seem to be going all that well.
If this thought process is correct, and I believe it is, then the purpose of business is to create wealth that creates freedom that is used to worship and serve God with more of who we are – more of our time; more of our talents; more of our treasures. That is God’s purpose for business.
Inevitably though, every time I share this with a group, there is someone who argues with me. They point out that we’re called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, and this is our act of worship. They also point out that someone in poverty (like most of the world’s population) can worship God too, so this cannot be the case. And if it were the case, then our response should be to work our entire lives, save up enough money, and start serving and worshiping God when we retire with enough wealth and freedom, but there is no concept of retirement in the Bible.
To all this, I say, “Amen!”
You see, the Hebrew word for Worship is Avodah (עֲבוֹדָה). The Hebrew word for Service is also Avodah (עֲבוֹדָה). The Hebrew word for Work is also Avodah (עֲבוֹדָה).
There is no business without work, and so, as children of God through Jesus Christ, business starts with our work as worship and service to God and it finishes in the ability to worship and serve God with more of our gifts, more of our talents and more of our treasures.
Listen, if you’re in business, but long to do “ministry,” please understand your business is your ministry. Being Christ in business is not a light call. This also applies to those of you who have a job, but long to be in business or ministry. Only 15% of the body of Christ works in a non-profit setting. This means that a majority of us are called to be Christ in business, not Christ in the local church.
From the very beginning God’s purpose was to dwell with those he created and deeply loves. He sent Jesus to pursue us for this reason. Now you, who are filled with the Holy Spirit and have Christ living inside you, are able to be God dwelling among those around you that he created and deeply loves. When you go to work, he is there through you. When you’re at a restaurant, he is there through you. When you’re with your family, he is there through you.
When we take our eyes off how much we dislike our work, and put them on Christ and let our work be worship, we can be Christ dwelling among those those around us. As you’re doing your work as worship and service to God in every area of your life, you’re being Christ.