Each day in workplaces around the world Christians have an opportunity to be salt and light1 through the way they accomplish their tasks and interact with those around them. But work is not just a place where we can show our devotion to Christ; it is often part of the world of business, which, when done well, is something that both glorifies God and benefits everyone.
Richard Chewing defines business as a way to structure work and express dominion over creation.2 Because it creates relationships and engages others to work for a common purpose, business can work to further the kingdom of God. It is also a very good way of organizing resources to help meet the real needs of people through the offering of products and services. As such, it helps us be careful stewards of the resources we have been given while giving us a concrete way to show care and concern for others. A good business helps customers sort out their legitimate needs and wants, while also generating income and wealth for employees and owners that can be used carefully to further the kingdom of God.
Additionally, in the same way that competition in sports shapes and forges character, the opportunity to work in business can also shape and forge character in a way that cannot be done as easily in other realms of our life (say, at home or at church). The environment of business therefore allows a unique place to discover, grow, and cultivate gifts, which benefit the self and others. Imagine, for example, a teenager who dislikes talking to elderly people. If that teenager takes a position at a restaurant, the “job” will require her to step out of her comfort zone. In doing so, she might discover that she actually likes visiting with elderly people and so later be moved to become a nurse at a long term care facility where she can exercise God’s calling in her life.
There are many activities commonly found in business that are helpful for human flourishing outside of business. Those who participate in successful business activities need to be efficient and productive with resources such as budgets and time, for example, and running a successful business requires the ability to accomplish goals, meet deadlines, and complete projects. Other skills such as conflict management and good communication can be developed and purposefully employed in the business environment. Many businesses offer training programs to help their employees develop and grow in these and other areas, and these skills are useful in different social spheres such as at home or volunteer settings.
In every good business transaction, each party ends up better off than they were before. The organization has revenue to pay the bills and stay viable, the employees learn and grow the gifts God has given to them while they also earn an income with which to make God glorifying decisions. The process of business also allows customers to have their real needs met, and Christians engaging in business activities can advance God’s kingdom. Now, as Christians working in business, we have to make sure we are that salt and light, and we need to advance God’s kingdom first and foremost, so others will see Christ when they see us at work.