#032 – Faith As Usual – Monetize

We have explored the five common Placebos of what we call faith as usual that can lead well intentioned leaders to stumble down faith as usual Side Roads in their effort to integrate their faith and their work. After Agonizing and Individualizing, the third of these Side Roads is Monetizing.   Side Roads represent responses to Placebos advertised as the Red Pill that we believe actually miss the ancient path of business a better way.

Remember, Side Roads are not inherently bad–in fact, they are better than doing nothing at all.  But Side Roads are not transformative and can lull the leader into believing they are on the ancient path when they are missing deeper purpose for the organization, deeper calling for themselves and deeper flourishing for their people.  In his book Ekklesia, Ed Silvoso writes “The enemy of the “best” . . . .  is the “good”, because by being so satisfying, it deprives  us of the hunger for the “much more” that in this case God has in store.


The “Save or Give” Pill tells the business leader–faith/work integration means evangelizing people at work and giving money to evangelists–period.  Evangelizing is frightening in a business context (and likely to lead to extended Agonizing!), but giving away money is comparatively easy.  Business leaders sometimes say that they feel like ATM machines at church, so “giving at the office” is familiar.  We believe most leaders will conclude that evangelizing at work is probably illegal and absolutely uncomfortable, and they will opt for “Give“–the faith as usual Side Road of Monetizing.

Monetizing by a leader is not a bad thing–it is actually affirmatively good.  The leader will likely “feel good” about himself or herself and will certainly receive affirmation from others (particularly recipients of their giving).  The leader may well be courted by faith-based non-profits focused exclusively on encouraging monetary generosity.  Some leaders will even get put on stage at faith/work or “generosity” events to share how they have integrated their faith and work by giving away a huge percentage of revenues or profits.  Sadly, those listening to THAT “4-Hour Content” Pill could leave thinking that Monetizing is the goal.

But Monetizing by a leader is not business a better way because it is focused on what to do with the profit of the organization rather than the culture of the organization that generates those profits–it is focused on generous giving rather than generous living (which includes generous giving).  Ironically, Monetizing can perpetuate and even exacerbate the problems of Profit as Purpose, because maximizing profit maximizes the ability to be generous.  The organization’s culture could actually get worse as the leader tries to maximize “doing good”.

Monetizing is a Side Road, and the good feelings and affirmation may be enough to keep the leader from doing the harder work of pursuing the ancient road.  It is not the Red Pill because it is not focused on transforming the heart of the organization and how it does business–the organization is likely still engaging in business as usual with all its attributes and problems, particularly Profit as Purpose.

The tradition of business leaders funding the evangelists is firmly embedded in the history of evangelism. (Laura L. Nash)

As we have emphasized in prior posts, the risks of relying on a Placebo and stumbling down a Side Road include:

  • Missed purpose for the organization
  • Missed calling for its leaders
  • Missed flourishing of its people

It is important to emphasize that none of these Side Roads is bad–they are better than not even thinking about faith/work integration.  Whereas Agonizing is a painful and unfulfilling Side Road and Individualizing is a very comfortable Side Road, Monetizing is perhaps the easiest Side Road of all.  For those given The “Save or Give” Pill, it is a “Get Out of Jail” card from the scary alternative of evangelizing–just facilitate evangelizing by those “called” to that sort of thing.  It is even easier than Individualizing because you don’t need to change your personal behavior.   It is also encouraged by the church, by non-profits and by “generosity” organizations.  It is also very safe–who can criticize someone for being more generous with their wealth.  Like most Side Roads, Monetizing makes us feel good about ourselves but is not transformative for the organization. We believe more is much harder, but it is necessary and worth the journey. That journey is the journey of Integriosity®

SPOILER ALERT:  Generosity is a key component of Integriosity.  In the second step of IntegriosityRE-IMAGINE–an element of Re-Imagining Culture is Re-Imagining Sustainability, and Sustainability has three aspects:  Stewardship, Mutuality and Generosity.  Generosity recognizes that the organization is stewarding God’s capital.

PERSONAL FOOTNOTE (from PM): I never really detoured down the Side Road of Monetizing because I never really took The “Save or Give: Pill.   My faith renewal in 2003 did lead to a significant increase in our giving (and a dramatic shift in the beneficiaries of our giving), but I have never felt drawn to “give generously” movements and messages.  In large part, it is because I have seen the potential for generosity messages focused on generous giving rather than generous living to send people onto a Side Road by giving them  a pass on how to work and live. The message of giving generously can be interpreted to excuse (or at least ignore) HOW you gain the wealth.

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