Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
This Series explores “business as calling” – what it means, barriers to seeing business as a calling and its implications for followers of Jesus who desire to live out their faith in God not only on the weekend but also in the marketplace.
“It’s nice to have an elephant in the room. There’s nothing more helpful than something everybody’s thinking about.” ~Seth Meyers, Comedian
“I am going to argue that many aspects of business activity are morally good in themselves, and that in themselves they bring glory to God – though they also have great potential for misuse and wrongdoing.” ~Dr. Wayne Grudem, “Business for the Glory of God”
As discussed in the opening post of this Series, many people, both followers of Jesus and those who are not (yet) followers of Jesus, feel ambivalent about business generally and a career in business specifically. The “elephant in the room” is the (usually unspoken) assumption that business is at best morally neutral if not downright evil!
For Christians, this mindset often affects their willingness to consider business as a legitimate calling. Consequently, they fall into the trap of seeing business as simply a means to an end or “a placeholder” until their more spiritual calling materializes.
Alternatively, it becomes the vehicle through which they financially support worthy causes including the local church they attend. Often, this mindset effectively partitions life between a (perceived) sacred component (such as church attendance) and a secular component comprising everything else.
However, what if Grudem’s assertion is correct? What if business possesses an intrinsic moral goodness that provides many and varied opportunities to glorify God? After all, according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the “chief end of man is to glorify God.” By extension, the pursuit of a career in business becomes a legitimate candidate for calling.
In this series, I will borrow extensively from Grudem’s book “Business for the Glory of God.” Dr. Grudem is one of today’s most respected theologians and his book persuasively argues the case against the various “elephant in the room” aspects of business.
Before launching into these arguments, however, I would like to tell you about my friend Oscar. For me, Oscar is an excellent example of someone who pursued business as a calling. Sadly, he suffered a heart attack and died in September 2018 at age 51. It is comforting to know he is now in the presence of Jesus where there is no pain, infirmity or evil.
While Mary and I have known Oscar and his family for many years through our local church, we had not appreciated his profound impact on his workplace. At his funeral, one of his coworkers delivered a deeply moving eulogy. Here is a representative sampling of comments by many different coworkers from every level of the large organization at which Oscar worked:
“greeted everyone with such enthusiasm”
“made our day brighter”
“always cheerful and encouraging”
“responsible, professional and excellent member of the finance team”
“will miss conversations about God”
I don’t recall Oscar telling me he was called to business but the foregoing comments confirm he was. Obviously, he was not deterred by “the elephant in the room” to which I will turn next week!
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.