As a professor at a Christian college, I often encounter students who are wondering if they need to start a nonprofit or ministry in order to do good in the world. They’re worried that working at or starting a for-profit enterprise is really just a way to make money, but won’t make a difference in the world.
So this week over at QIdeas we’ve been trying to answer that question – can corporate profits help communities thrive? – with some videos and content to read. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Kenman Wong titled “Is It Wrong to Pursue a Profit?”:
Of course, no profession is free from pecuniary interests. Nor should business people be primarily faulted for seeing their work in such narrow terms. Profit is the way to gauge success in the world of business. Churches have also unintentionally reinforced this narrow view by reducing the value of the work of business people in their congregations to supplying the wealth needed to fund proper “kingdom” work.
Prevailing cultural assumptions aside, should profit be pursued by a Christian business person? Nothing in the scriptures, aside from a literal interpretation of the Parable of the Talents, would seem to say so. What then should business be about? The broader scope of Biblical teaching provides us with an alternate vision, calling us to live in alignment with the mission of God. Thus, our work should partner with God’s transformative mission of human flourishing. Business, then, is better seen as a calling to serve God and our neighbors, seeking “the “common good.” Although much more needs to be done, business already participates in kingdom work by creating goods and services that enhance people’s lives, providing meaningful work, and helping investors save for goals such as college and retirement.