Christians look at the annual celebration of Christmas with fond memories of the incarnation of Jesus, who as the son of God came as the Savior of the world. Such Good News is stated in and lived out throughout the New Testament. While the simple meaning of this precious time in history has been diluted with the likes of Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, colored lights, fluffy gifts, elves and other trivia, I recently turned my thinking toward the connection of the “Christ- child” with our calling to business.
It seems to me that the incarnation of Jesus in this world actually contributed to Kingdom business as we pursue it today. Here’s how:
Jesus’ Perspective on Work, Money and Wealth
Kingdom business in North America as well as overseas (BAM) has profit and sustainability as a fundamental bottom line. Jesus not only acknowledged, but he validated, profitable business. He worked in the ‘secular’ family building business for most of his life (Matt 13:55). Approximately 50% of Jesus’ parables were in a business setting, such as the cost accounting example of building a tower (Luke 14:28). Also, Jesus spoke clearly about worker’s wages in Luke 10:7. Perhaps equally important, Jesus in multiple places validated the Old Testament scriptures (Matt 5:17, Luke 24:27, 44). Those scriptures begin with Jesus and God the Father as the worker deity, with Moses speaking of the value of wealth creation (Deut 8:18), and the calling of men of wealth to fulfill the purposes of God (Abraham, Job, Solomon and others). The Old Testament is full of verses guiding business leaders (Gen. 2:15; Eccl. 9:9-10, Prov 12:11).Many other stories and actions of Jesus support profitable and sustainable business as ordained of God and the Christ of Christmas. We start and grow businesses because Jesus ordained it and gifted people to do so.
The Values of Jesus
While it is true that Jesus provides the validation for the purpose and perspective of a Kingdom business, the values of Jesus relative to operational issues in business may be equally important. Those values are too numerous to mention here but Ken Eldred in God is at Work 1 does an admirable job of demonstrating how Biblical values are at the root of successful capitalism. Under the rubric of personal character values are – integrity, honesty/truthfulness, loyalty, faithfulness, trust, commitment/diligence, order and cleanliness and hope. Interpersonal relationship values of Jesus include humility, service, respect/dignity, justice/fairness, grace, compassion, forgiveness, consideration, trust, accountability and interdependence. He even lists performance values such as service, excellence, value and quality; all held high by Jesus as standards for a Kingdom business. Kingdom businesses create jobs and the purpose of employer-employee relationships is to bring glory to God but living out the values that Jesus taught.
The Great Commandments of Jesus to love Him and our neighbor become one of the central components of the BAM bottom-line. When we create jobs, we are loving our neighbor. When we live out the values of Jesus, we are loving our neighbor and when we serve like Jesus served, we are loving our neighbor.
Jesus and Making Him Known
While it is clear that living rightly in the “here and now” is central to Jesus’ teaching, he also cared as much or more about eternal values. He desired that believers work toward helping others to become followers of Jesus. Some call that the Great Commission – the making of disciples of all nations. Ken Eldred calls it developing spiritual capital; for sure it is one of the bottom lines of Business as Mission.The Christ of Christmas stated, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36). Again, he stated in the Sermon on the Mount, “…store up for yourselves treasurers in heaven…” (Matt 6:20). It is incumbent upon every follower of Jesus to do his or her part in making him known to an unreached world. And this is fundamentally one of the bottom lines of a Kingdom business.
Let’s remember this month of Christmas that Jesus is the origin of work, the setter of workplace values and He wants us to make him known here and worldwide using business as the best way to do so.
1 Eldred, Ken. God is at Work: Transforming People and Nations through Business. Regal Books, Ventura, CA, 2005.
Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures