24 Feb #057 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Love—Loving by Serving—Purpose of Work and Business
ESSENCE: Putting together the puzzle pieces of the last several posts, we see that the first principle of Love leads us to the same purpose for business as emerged from the first principle of Kingdom–the BIGGER purpose of work and business is to HUMANIZE people, BEAUTIFY the world and GLORIFY God by serving internally and externally in a way that maximizes the flourishing of ALL people touched by that work or business. But the maximum flourishing an organization can unleash will only be realized if its purpose, values and priorities align with Biblical purposes, values and priorities.
Keep First Things First means going back to Biblical first principles, and we have been looking at the first “Generosity Priority” embedded into Integriosity®—Love. What does this first principle of Love teach us about the purpose of work and business?
The pieces of the puzzle are coming together and falling into place.
- In our last two posts (#055 and #056), we concluded (1) the nature of work in God’s design is that it is how we use our skills to obey His commandments through SERVICE and (2) the nature of business in God’s design is that it is a vehicle through which people come together to live out the purpose of work (i.e., SERVICE).
- In our posts about Loving Generously (#053 and #054), we concluded that faithfully “doing right” in an organization requires promoting and facilitating flourishing for EVERYONE touched by the organization through the creation of environments of Shalom.
- When we used the “Integrity Priority” of Kingdom to explore the role of work and business through the lenses of a BIGGER GOSPEL (post #052), we concluded that it was to humanize people, beautify the world and glorify God.
So let’s put some pieces together!
Love by Serving–Purpose of Work and Business
We believe the BIGGER purpose of work and business is to humanize people, beautify the world and glorify God by serving people in a way that maximizes the flourishing of all people touched by that work or business.
As we stated way back in post #006, in thinking about the Biblical purpose for business, we are inspired by what Jeff van Duzer concludes in his book Why Business Matters to God (And What Still Needs To Be Fixed): “Leaders should manage their businesses (1) to provide the community with goods and services that will enable it to flourish and (2) to provide opportunities for meaningful work that will allow employees to express their God-given creativity.” Van Duzer recognizes both an internal and an external way that businesses SERVE. We agree, and at Integrous we express the internal as “HUMANIZE” and the external as “BEAUTIFY”.
A business faithfully “doing right” SERVES people internally by providing opportunities for individuals to express aspects of their God-given identities in creative and meaningful work in a culture of Shalom built on Biblical principles of relationships, community and human dignity and SERVES people externally by providing opportunities, goods and services that enable families and communities to flourish and by creating a culture of Shalom conducive to the flourishing of ALL people it touches, including owners, vendors, customers and communities. In doing so, the business GLORIFIES God.
Profit is like oxygen. You absolutely need it to win the race. But that’s not the objective. The primary objective of business is serving others to the glory of God. (Ken Eldred)
There is a wonderful way in which humanizing and beautifying create a virtuous circle–the promotion and facilitation by an organization of flourishing internally serves to promote and facilitate further flourishing externally and the promotion and facilitation of flourishing externally serves to promote and facilitate further flourishing internally. For example, by SERVING through the creation of goods and services that beautify the world, an organization increases the sense of BIGGER PURPOSE felt by its employees, thereby facilitating humanizing. Similarly, by SERVING through the creation of an organizational culture of Shalom built on Biblical principles of relationships, community and human dignity that humanizes its employees, an organization facilitates flourishing of its people that leads to better physical and mental health, better family relationships and stronger communities, thereby beautifying the world.
We believe the purpose of a business is to maximize human flourishing, but the flourishing it could unleash can only be realized if its purpose, values and priorities align with Biblical purposes, values and priorities. It can only be realized when a leader has the courage to put profit in its proper place–as a means rather than an end. In the words of Ken Eldred:
Profit is like oxygen. You absolutely need it to win the race. But that’s not the objective. The primary objective of business is serving others to the glory of God.
We believe it is time for “business a better way” in alignment with Biblical values and priorities–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.
SPOILER ALERT: As you think about the implications of humanizing and beautifying, the final step in the process of Integriosity begins to take shape–RESTORE.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): The concepts of humanizing and beautifying do not sound like “business concepts”, which is why actually faithfully “doing right” (and not just happily strolling along a Side Road) can be such a radical concept for a business leader. It is also why I keep writing that you can’t unleash God’s potential for business unless its purpose, values and priorities align with Biblical purposes, values and priorities. It is also why Integriosity may be challenging for even faith-inspired leaders to embrace. Changing the heart of a business is hard–it is far easier to just change some personal behavior (i.e., Individualize), give generously (i.e., Monetize), or implement some very overt faith practices (i.e., Cosmeticize). You will be affirmed by many people–you will feel good about what you are doing, and what you are doing is affirmatively good and more than what the vast majority of leaders are doing! These questions sometimes even make me wonder–how many faith-inspired leaders have the conviction and will to actually faithfully “do right” in leading an organization? For that matter, who needs faith at all–isn’t it enough to just be moral and ethical and try to do the “right thing”?
But the ideas of humanizing and beautifying come from God’s BIGGER Gospel–from the story of Creation and the vision of Restoration. A friend died recently (at much too young an age) who was passionate about the importance of Genesis to understanding life. It led me to go back and reread some of his writings. In his book, The Six Pillars of Biblical Power: Real Theology for the Grass Roots, Rev. John Rankin wrote:
Indeed, I am convinced that the more time we invest into understanding the genius, simplicity and depth of God’s order of creation in Genesis 1-2, the more we will have power to understand the rest of Scripture, history and life.
John frequently equated the “good” with humanizing. For example, in 2019 he tweeted:
The good always humanizes, and evil always dehumanizes. Whether in the slightest gestures or in terms of large political consequence.
Also very recently, another friend (Dr. Skip Moen) wrote a devotional that quoted Michael Wyschogrod:
When man develops a morality not based on God’s commandment—even if coincidentally much of it may coincide with those commandments—an act of expulsion of God has occurred. He is no longer the lawgiver. Now reason or moral intuition or something else performs the function that the Bible can only envisage God as performing. Man dethrones God, and this form of rebellion is particularly dangerous because it leaves man morally fulfilled, freed of the guilt that may be experienced—sooner or later—by the rebel who violated God’s command and who might not remain self-righteous as the moral rebel. The moral rebel finds a relationship with God increasingly irrelevant as his moral convictions deepen and he engages himself more and more in the realization of his moral ideals in the context of the real world.
Once again, in a moment of doubt, God has reminded me through friends that a BIGGER Gospel matters for business leaders, faith-inspiration matters for business leaders, humanizing and beautifying matter for business leaders, and Integriosity is worth the effort–there are plenty of faith-inspired leaders who will be convicted to take the brave steps needed to actually faithfully “do right”. It is about trusting God’s process, timing and outcome.