Benjamin C. Maxson, Director, General Conference Stewardship Ministries
Summary: God owns everything. Acknowledging His ownership of our occupation fosters spiritual growth, takes the pressure off, and makes work more rewarding.
The question startled me. ?Will you be my business advisor?? Joe had tired of his profession and was buying his own business. The business had a number of challenges, and he was asking me to be available to counsel him whenever he needed it. When I protested that I really did not have the appropriate business qualifications, he clarified what he wanted.
He had others to help him with the business decisions he would face. What he wanted was someone to help him integrate God into the way he would do business. He wanted someone with whom he could reflect on God’s involvement in the new business. More than that, he was determined to operate his business on the basis of biblical principles and in a Christ-like manner.
So we began to explore foundational principles that he could apply to the way he would run his business and work with his employees. Together, we discovered that God can be just as real in the workplace as in church. Let’s explore some of these principles.
The first principle we discovered was that since God is really the Owner, the business was His. That took a great deal of pressure off Joe. He could now function as the managing partner, managing the business for God as Owner. He also could know that God was intimately interested in the details of their business.
This insight led us to the next key principle: Whatever we do in the workplace should be done to God’s honor and glory (1Cor 10:31). Since it is His business, what is done in the name of that business reflects on Him. Joe determined to act in such a way that God would be exalted and honored. He would also seek to act in the name of the Lord, ??Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him? (Col 3:17, ESV). The following verses led us to the conclusion that everything that is done in the workplace should be in service to Christ:
?Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Col 3:22-24, ESV).?
Since he was serving God as the Owner, Joe began to pray about daily details in the business. Nothing was too big or too small to bring to God. Joe discovered a rich source of practical counsel in the book of Proverbs. He now read it for insights as to how to manage the business and the employees.
Joe discovered that it was good practice to treat employees as he thought God would. He found that after doing his best, he could leave matters in God’s hands and not be as stressed by thinking about what still needed to be done or what should be done differently. He found a purpose higher than simply making money or succeeding in turning the business around. He saw his purpose in life to be serving God in daily activities and decisions—doing God’s business, not his own.
Then came the day Joe started having problems with his foreman. The foreman’s work was not up to standard, and the quality of the product was starting to decline. Customers were beginning to complain. Over a period of weeks things got worse, and Joe thought about firing the foreman. What should he do? We explored how Matthew 18:15 might apply. After time in prayer, Joe privately confronted the foreman from the perspective of seeing him as a brother who was doing something wrong.
Together they explored the implications, decided on corrective measures, and established a time table to follow. Six weeks later Joe told me that applying the biblical principle not only solved the problem, it restored a good worker and boosted morale with all the employees as they felt the difference. The biblical process had the added benefit of earning the foreman’s loyalty.
Joe and I discovered that bringing God into the ways of doing business could have a powerful impact on the business. But it had an even greater impact on Joe. God became more real to him. And I grew as a business counselor. Oh, I didn’t know any more about running a business, managing production, making contracts, or monitoring production. Instead, I learned that God wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives. There is no area that is beyond His ability. He can guide. He can provide. He can be real in the workplace.
This experience led me to ten key points to help us bring God into the workplace:
1. Believe that God is real and that He wants to be involved in your daily life.
2. Invite God into your life each day and bring daily issues to Him in prayer.
3. Take God with you into the workplace. He promises to be with you always (Mt 28:20). Practice His presence—even at work.
4. Surrender your life to God each day and seek to apply biblical principles to the way you live.
5. If you own a business, transfer the ownership of that business to God. (The state may not recognize this transfer, but it will transform your attitude toward the business!)
6. If you are an employee, remember, beyond serving the business, you are serving God. Choose to do everything you do for Him, not just for the earthly boss or owner.
7. At the end of the day, leave things in God’s hands, do your best, and then trust Him.
8. Ask God to give you a vision of what He wants for your life in the workplace.
9. See your work as a ministry of worship to God—serving Him in ways that honor and exalt Him.
10. Look for ways to treat those around you as Jesus would have treated them.