03 Mar #058 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Love—Respect and Sustainability–God’s Limits
ESSENCE: Love is the first “Generosity Priority” embedded in Integriosity®, and we have seen how the generosity and service aspects of Love lead us to the purpose of work and business (maximize flourishing by Humanizing, Beautifying, Glorifying), but there are also respect and sustainability aspects of Love that are inherent in the Creation Mandate. Biblical sustainability is about faithfully “doing right” by caring for all God’s creation as its STEWARDS. It is motivated by obedience to the Creation Mandate–not by fear or guilt or politics or cultural pressure or legal obligations.
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. We have explored the generosity and service aspects of Love that lead us to the purpose of work and business (maximize flourishing by Humanizing, Beautifying, Glorifying), but there are also respect and sustainability aspects of Love that flow from the “Integrity Priorities” of Righteousness and Kingdom—Love through recognizing God’s limitations inherent in the Creation Mandate.
Love by Recognizing God’s Limits–Respect and Sustainability
Hopefully you recall the Creation Mandate (the commandment about our purpose on earth) that we discussed at length in post #46. Here it is again from Genesis 1:28:
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Without a proper understanding of context, words like “subdue” and “dominion” regarding the earth and every living thing are ominous and, on their face, could be misunderstood to justify unfettered use and even abuse of natural resources and even people. But theologians (which we do not claim to be) seem to be pretty confident that the terms means “stewardship“. We are to care for all God’s creation as its STEWARDS. It is worth repeating the words of Tim Keller from his book Every Good Endeavor:
We are called to stand in for God here in the world, exercising stewardship over the rest of creation in his place as his vice-regents. We share in doing the things that God has done in creation—bringing order out of chaos, creatively building a civilization out of the material of physical and human nature, caring for all that God has made. This is a major part of what we were created to be.
We believe “caring for all that God has made” translates practically into two things–Respect and Sustainability:
- RESPECT: Respect for all humans God created, which means treating all stakeholders of an organization with dignity (owners, employees, vendors, customers, communities).
- SUSTAINABILITY: Sustainability across all aspects of a business, including its utilization of all forms of capital that drive the business and its relationships with the stakeholders related to those forms of capital. We have frequently turned to Jeff van Duzer’s book Why Business Matters to God (And What Still Needs To Be Fixed), and its insights on the breadth of sustainability are worth quoting:
“Sustainability, however, can be understood in a much broader sense as well. As a business pursues its purposes, it must do so in a way that is sustainable across all of the dimensions of its interactions with its stakeholders.“
As a business pursues its purposes, it must do so in a way that is sustainable across all of the dimensions of its interactions with its stakeholders. (Jeff Van Duzer)
In considering the broad concept of sustainability embedded in the Creation Mandate, it is useful to look at the different forms of capital on which a business depends. As we first mentioned in post #014, in their book Completing Capitalism, Bruno Roche and Jay Jakub identify four key types of “capital” needed by a business: natural, human, social and financial (the thesis of the book is that the problem with “capitalism” is that business has focused on just one “capital” and failed to steward and manage appropriately the other three–for “capitalism” to work, it must be “completed”).
What does sustainability look like across all forms of capital and taking into account all stakeholders? Interestingly, in Completing Capitalism the authors describe how the Mars Corporation (their employer) did a study to ensure that Mars was not extracting an unfair amount of profit at any stage of the value chain, thereby weakening the chain. Mars undertook this study because its leaders recognized that a weak value chain is not resilient (i.e., sustainable). This resulted in the development of an entirely new business model–the Economics of Mutuality (a very Biblical principle!).
You will know from past posts that a core concept of Integriosity is that WHY MATTERS! It is important to understand that Biblical sustainability is about obedience to the Creation Mandate–recognizing that God owns it all, has given it to us to steward and is ultimately in control. Biblical sustainability is NOT:
- Motivated by regulatory requirements.
- Motivated by fear of “existential” climate or environmental threats.
- Motivated by political agendas or narratives.
- Motivated by cultural pressures or movements.
- Motivated by a desire to attract ESG investment.
- Motivated by fear of alienating, or by a desire to attract, investors, customers or employees who are driven by any of these fears, agendas, narratives, pressures or movements.
Biblical sustainability is about faithfully “doing right”. 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: In the second step of Integriosity–RE-IMAGINE–we will look at three aspects of re-imagining sustainability–stewardship, mutuality and generosity.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I first met Jay Jakub in New York City at a Salon event organized by Christian Union (a campus Christian ministry) on January 23, 2018. He talked about the work being done at Mars on the Economics of Mutuality and its Biblical roots. I was fascinated by what Jay and his colleagues were doing and recognized immediately its relevance to “business a better way” and Integriosity. When he held up his book, Completing Capitalism, I knew it looked familiar. That night, I got home and found the book in my stack of the next five books I planned to read–it immediately moved to the top of the stack! So should you.