Mats Tunehag: The A to Z of BAM: A to E – from Avodah to Environmental

Mats Tunehag has given permission to use this ingenious description of Business as Mission A-Z.  We will share in five weekly blogs, two in August and three in September. This week will be the first in the series: A-E.

Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures
Larry.Sharp@ibecventures.com

 

 

A – Avodah

The Hebrew word avodah is used interchangeably for work, worship and service. Business as Mission, BAM, is a seamless integration of work, worship and service.

A few Bible references:

Six days you shall work (avodah). – Exodus 34:21

This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship (avodah) me. – Exodus 8:1

But as for me and my household, we will serve (avodah) the Lord. – Joshua 24:15

Worship in the temple is different from manual labor in the field. But both are connected to who we are, created in God’s image, with a purpose to both work and worship. Work can be worship! Avodah is a picture of an integrated faith.[1] It is a life where work and worship come from the same root. “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

 

B – Business

Professor Angelo Nicolaides observes: “The notion of business is recognized within the creation account where it is clear that man cannot work alone.” [2] John Paul II describes the essential community aspects of business, saying that a company is a “community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society.” [3]

Businesses are not static – they start and develop; they can grow and change. But we should intentionally and professionally shape our business for God, people and planet. One can see the business as an instrument through which we develop our products and services, and also optimize our service of various stakeholders: God, staff, owners, customers, suppliers, community, competitors, and physical environment. Business is a God given instrument, which we fine-tune to serve people and glorify God. [4]

 

 

C – Create

For many people work is simply seen as an employment, a way to make some money. But that is too narrow a view, both historically and globally, of what work is and means. Furthermore, we need to be aligned with the Judeo-Christian tradition and its concept of work. [5]

God works! He is creative and He creates in community and for community. We are created in His image to work and be creative, for ourselves and also for others. Our work may be paid or non-paid, related to an employment or not. The Wealth Creation Manifesto states: “We are created in God’s image, to co-create with Him and for Him, to create products and services for the common good.” We can be creative in music, cooking a meal for the family, developing a software program, nursing a sick patient at a hospital, or farming rice. This is deeply divine and deeply human.

 

D – Dignity

Rabbis Sacks contrasts animals and human beings: “Work, in other words, has spiritual value, because earning our food is part of the essential dignity of the human condition. Animals find sustenance; only mankind creates it.” [6]

Jobs are not just a matter of income or survival; they reflect who God is, and who we are as people made in His image. Work is an issue of human dignity. Creating jobs with dignity is godly. Businesses can be a place for dignifying work and creativity, for community and service.

Work and business are reflections of the trinitarian God, and also reflections of God’s trinitarian nature. God is love and collaboration. [7] So, being a diligent worker individually, and being creative collectively – also in business – reflects true human dignity!

 

E – Environmental

In BAM we talk about the quadruple bottom line: financial, social, environmental and spiritual. We can and should at times compartmentalize for planning, operation and evaluation. But we also need to recognize that they overlap, interact and connect; they form a greater whole.

We must avoid playing one important entity against the other. It is not work versus worship, or financial bottom-line versus a spiritual impact. They are not same, but they belong together. [8]

We mustn’t forget or neglect to be good stewards of creation, and develop business solutions for environmental challenges. “Along with the spiritual, financial, and social bottom lines, the environmental bottom line is an integral measure of a God-centered successful business.” [9]

 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Read more at http://matstunehag.com/2018/08/13/lets-avodah/

[2] Ethics and the dignity of work: An Orthodox Christian perspective, by Angelo Nicolaides, see [7]

Pharos Journal of Theology ISSN 2414-3324 online Volume 101 – (2020)

[3] Centesimus Annus, 1991

[4] See short video about business as an instrument for God and people: https://vimeo.com/152713982

[5] See ‘Deeply Rooted for the Future’: http://matstunehag.com/2020/12/23/deeply-rooted-for-the-future/

[6] Market and Morals, by Jonathan Sacks. Aug 2020

[7] The trinitarian reciprocal love, interdependence and collaboration, have bearings on our relationships and responsibilities, also for the planet: “Relational human existence involves interdependence and interaction simultaneously between human beings themselves and the nature they commonly share and companies need to be clear on this. … They should also endeavour to serve environmentally friendly planetary needs so that future generations may also enjoy God’s creation.” Ethics and the dignity of work: An Orthodox Christian perspective, by Angelo Nicolaides.

Pharos Journal of Theology ISSN 2414-3324 online Volume 101 – (2020)

[8] See https://thirdpathinitiative.com/holistic-integrated-bam-will-make-history/

[9] Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation. https://bamglobal.org/wealth-creation-stewardship/

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