Business People (Michael Kruse)

Business People (Michael Kruse) March 6, 2012

This post is the first in a series by this blog’s good friend, Michael Kruse, who has his own very active blog.

Tina Turner once asked “What’s love got to do with it?” Today, many businesspeople are asking “What’s God got to do with it?” For some, the question is a facetious way of saying that God really has nothing to do with business, but for many Christians it is a very real question … a question for which the church is of little help.

What barriers do you see to living out your faith in the workplace?

Is it unrealistic to expect that the church could aid businesspeople with the decisions they make?

Last December Eerdmans published a book called How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and what can be done about it) written by Dr. John Knapp. Dr. Knapp is the founding director of the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford University. He has also done adjunct work at Columbia Theological Seminary. (He is also a fellow PCUSAer.) Over the next several days I will blog my way through his book and I invite you to join me for conversation.

A central piece of Knapp’s book is a survey his doctoral students at Columbia Seminary gave to 238 people from all walks of life. There were five questions:

1. Can you describe at least one moral or ethical concern that has affected you personally in your career or work life?

2. Was the church helpful to you in addressing the concerns(s)? If so how? If not, what might have been helpful?

3. Can you recall specific sermons, classes, or other ways the church has offered practical guidance or help in your business or professional life? Please describe these.

4. Have you ever sought advice or counsel from a pastor regarding business- or career-related concern? If so, was it helpful? If you have not done so, what consideration might help you determine whether to seek pastoral counsel about a work-related matter?

5. On the whole, do you think the church does enough to help members integrate their faith with their lives at work? If so, how? If not, how might we do better? (166)

Knapp writes:

“Despite a widely shared belief that faith should inform ethical decisions at work, a mere 18 of 230 respondents had ever consulted a pastor for advice about a work-related matter. Of these, six were dissatisfied with the experience, including the entrepreneur who angrily moved his church membership when a pastor made light of his concern that his product might be bad for children; nine others had sought advice only when looking for a job. More revealing were the view of more than 200 people who had never looked to a pastor for counsel in business or career matter, a reluctance we will examine in the next chapter.” (12)

The results of the survey are consistent with other research. There is widespread disappointment with the church among businesspeople. Why is there such a disconnection? Knapp identifies aspects of both the business world and the world of the church as contributors to the problem. Chapter 1 looks at the world of business and Chapter 2 (the next post) looks at the world of the church.

Throughout human history, home life and work life were tightly woven together. Over the past two hundred years we have seen a steady separation of the two, with seemingly different sets of ethical standards emerging for each sphere. Adding to this separation has been the evolution of economics. What we typically think of as economics was studied within the context of philosophy and political economy prior to the Twentieth Century. The idea of economics as an empirically based study of human behavior free of value judgments emerged in the Twentieth Century. Along with it came the notion of homo economicus, human beings reduced in essence to rational self-interested utility calculators. Ethical considerations were pushed to the margins.

Knapp points to a Harvard Business Review article written by Albert Carr in 1969, called “Is Business Bluffing Ethical?” as emblematic of the present mindset. Carr proposed that business be seen much like a poker game with its own set of rules that might run contrary to traditional values in other aspects of our lives but that are acceptable inside the game. University level business ethics have tended to reinforce this perspective and have tended more toward helping students avoid creating the next Enron versus really grappling with deep moral issues. And while we have seen a move in recent decades to make the workplace more diverse along a number of demographic lines, religion in the workplace is still seen as something that should stay at home. Knapp writes:

“Our point here is that the cultures of many workplaces effectively relegate faith to the private, off-hours sphere, contributing to the individual’s inner difficulty in holding these two worlds together.” (7)

Heightening the tension is a reversal in the trend of the past two centuries toward compartmentalization. Work and business lives are becoming more integrated and there is growing hunger to know how to integrate them. Based on what I’ve observed, I suspect the younger you are the more acutely this is felt. Unfortunately, Knapp observes:

“Princeton researcher Robert Wuthnow finds that individuals’ faith actually ‘plays a more important role in guiding work than has generally been acknowledged,’ but he sees that this influence is diminishing as Christianity becomes less a guide for living than a ‘way of making us feel better about ourselves.’” (16)

On the whole, I think Knapp has summarized the landscape well. There are nuances I would add at places but that would go beyond the scope of the book. The world of business and economics creates barriers to the integration of faith and work. And that sets the stage for the next chapter, “The World of the Church.”


What barriers do you see to living out your faith in the workplace?

Is it unrealistic to expect that the church could aid businesspeople with the decisions they make?


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  • phil_style

    One common ethical dilemma I find in business (almost every business I have been in) is that “values” are quickly put to the sword when clients make demands that threaten the bottom line.

    I’ve wanted, on a few occasions, to tell a client that their project is morally suspect, but cannot.

    Cynically, it seems to me that the exercise of moral values is only important if;
    1) they can be used for marketing collateral
    2) They contribute towards effective CANTAP – (compliance as necessary to avoid prosecution).

  • Chris

    I agree. And if we think that ethical lines are often blurred or ignored in self-titled Christian organizations, we are just kidding ourselves. Fully half of the dilemmas and challenges I face at work in one of these has to do with less than stellar ethical positions and practices. And I work in a highly regarded “exemplary” Christian organization. I have purposed in my heart and will that I will NOT engage in any practice or message that is dishonest, misleading or manipulative but it goes on more than pastors think.

  • Chris

    Oops. I meant to say in the first line “are NOT often blurred or ignored…”

  • Nate


    I agree with you as I have observed that same dynamic in numerous settings. Perhaps the temptation to stretch the ethical boundaries is as strong or even stronger in Christian ministry circles due to the “godly mission” they are seeking to accomplish? It truly is amazing how ethical issues can be justified in the name of “God’s work.” When you also factor in the desire of constituents and boards to believe the best, it makes it very challenging for those working in these settings to even get a hearing about their concerns.

  • In the next chapter, Knapp says that part of the reason businesspeople who are really wrestling with ethical issues are reluctant to seek out ethical advice in the church is the sloppy questionable way too many churches and church organizations handle their own business practices.

  • Susan N.

    Hello, Michael W. Kruse, my good friend 🙂

    Here is my half-shekel’s worth: You cannot serve two masters.

    Business has an agenda that, in a capitalist economy, is bent toward “success” in terms of growth (power) and profit (money).

    A life of faith, guided by the “ethics” of Jesus, is about traveling light and resisting enslavement to powers and principalities. Subversive? Justice liberally seasoned with humility and mercy.

    When push comes to shove in business (that is, when the survival of the corp. or entity is threatened), a person is just a cog (faith or no faith) in the machine. Wendy McCaig put up a very thought-provoking book review at her blog on the topic of being trapped in the machinery of worldly systems. We are all trapped in it to some extent; we have to live, and it takes money to live. So we’re “in” the world, whether we like it or not.

    On choices:

    I have not worked outside the home for a long time. But I did in my past life. And I worked for an extremely competitive (internally as well as in the marketplace) mid-size corp. My work demanded much of my time and energy. Really, all of the rest of my life revolved around my work life. It was a very costly trade off.

    I see my husband struggling to balance his work pressures, home/family life, and church/faith commitment. Fear is deliberately being cultivated in the employees, to drive them to drop every other commitment and “save” the company from certain ruin in these hard economic times. How much of it is dire need, and how much is pure greed is the big question, isn’t it?

    Church as a source of wise counsel on living one’s faith in the business world?

    Oh Michael W. Kruse, it saddens and outrages me to even think on it, but I strongly feel we are deluding ourselves if we believe that the church/Church, at least in our U.S. cultural context, has not gotten in bed with “business.”

    It’s so much about survival and, in many cases, numerical and financial growth that, do we really think there’s no agenda? Success in business has such great potential for benefit to the church. 10% of 200K is more than 10% of 50K, from a purely financial outlook on tithing. If you can convince the well-off to actually tithe 10%.

    What’s even worse, is that human beings (in the church) have become like commodities, valued for what they produce, according to what the world values as worthy and good. Ethics? Did Ayn Rand have ethics? In a fashion, I suppose. A philosophical, utilitarian kind of ethics.

    Didn’t Jesus teach a paradoxical kind of “ethics?” Up is down. Sacrifice not success. I’m thinking Beatitudes here…

    I once heard a pastor say that he was tempted to go sell shoes at the mall in lieu of the church leadership gig. At the time I felt sad for him, but more and more lately I am thinking that selling shoes at the mall would be very freeing and have its own rewards. Did you see ‘Larry Crowne,’ by the way? I really loved the movie. Very instructive and refreshing.


  • Susan, your frustration is one example of what many in business feel they are up against. Business is a tough world and the church too often feels clueless or corrupted. We’ll get to the church side of he equation in the next post. I hope you saw #5 above.

  • Susan N.

    MWK (#7), thanks, yes — I did see #5.

    Many others might be more torqued about sloppy business practices in the church, but not me.

    I’m more torqued about sloppy human relations practices (e.g., having a very hard time seeing how the church genuinely embraces and cares for all people, regardless of their net measurable worth.)

    Yes, I’ll eagerly await tomorrow’s installment focusing on the Church.

    So, just out of curiosity, to stick to the topic at hand, based on my description of my husband’s work situation right now, what would be your faith-based, ethical advice to him?

  • Susan, I’d rather not race ahead to solutions just yet (I’m don’t think I have them). I don’t think there is a singular answer to your husband’s dilemma. Some of it depends on personal call. I’d rather let Knapp unfold some of the nuance for us. The first four chapters set up the problem. The last four point toward finding coherence.

    Also, when I say businesspeople are often put off by church behavior it cuts two directions. One is concern about the church not being responsible with money and the other is the church not thinking theologically about money (which can lead to the same questionable behavior in the church that is experienced at work.)

  • Michael!
    Thanks, friend, for this most excellent post! I look forward with bated breath for the rest of the series. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I am currently working on D.Min. in “Faith, Vocation, and Culture” at Covenant Seminary under Donald Guthrie and Steve Garber (for those who don’t know Garber, he is a major leader in teaching, serving and equipping people to understand their callings and careers as integral to the mission of God. He is the head of The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture). I am gearing up to launch a Non-Profit to help churches assist those in the marketplace with these issues that are raised in Knapp’s book.

    It is indeed sad how few Christians see the church as the place to find guidance for living life from Monday to Friday. Another question to ask the readers of this blog: When was the last time your pastor visited you at your workplace? Most pastors are more concerned with the “business” of growing and sustaining their churches than helping their congregants to work for the common good in their workplaces so that they can live missionally in this aspect of their lives. Most church leaders still operate with this dichotomy: What really matters is the work of the church (i.e., Sunday worship and evangelism); all “work” outside this is of second-tier importance. This gets played out like this: Someone who has the gifts and training for business is only useful to the Kingdom of God if that person is on a board at the church. What they do in their work week does not have as much (or ANY!) importance to the mission of God.

    As my mentor, Steve Garber, says, “Vocation is integral, not incidental, to the mission Dei.”

  • Susan N.

    MWK (#9) – O:K, bro. Thanks for the dialogue. I am exiting the commentary now, so as not to be an overly demanding presence amid the other voices here.

    I must say, in closing, that this humble admission: “I don’t think there is a singular answer to your husband’s dilemma. Some of it depends on personal call.” <– has elevated my respect for your opinion on this subject. We're one, but we're not the same…still called (all) to carry each other. 🙂 ~Peace~

  • T

    As a lawyer, I once had a case in which an elderly and disabled man had been defrauded out of a very large sum of money from a man whom he met and knew through church. It was a large SBC church, FWIW. We had already attempted to resolve the situation by going to the wrongdoer privately and with witnesses, so I contacted the leadership of the church to pursue additional steps, including if necessary having the church as a body put him out of the fellowship.

    The interim pastor urged me instead to go to the courts and/or police and he lied to me about having a membership roll (he said they didn’t when they did).

    This is only one angle, but it confirms the trend observed that churches are ill-equipped and/or unwilling to get involved in such matters, even when there is a biblical mandate for involvement.

    The offending “brother” ended up in federal prison on an unrelated bankruptcy fraud.

    But I also agree with other commenters. The church seems generally powerless to address problems that arise from enslavement to money because it is often in the same boat. Stewardship can’t happen when addiction is the issue.

  • Michael (and Scot),

    Thank you for this post and this series. It is a great passion of my life to integrate the Christian life (which I personally define most visibly in the context of a local church) with the business world. As a manager and aspiring business owner (in a family business), I see enormous potential to articulate and live a Biblical balance here to the glory of God.

    While I agree with your premise (and that of the book you are reviewing), I personally am not here to point fingers at the church at large, but do my part within my own local church to communicate the concerns and perspectives of businesspeople, and help the church understand and minister to the complexity of that environment. I have been greatly encouraged by those I have come across, both in the church and in the marketplace, who are leading the way and worthy of being followed in this call. I could mention so many books and ministries that hopefully would be encouraging to this conversation.

    Again, thanks for this topic. I’m glad to be aware of your blog now also!

  • T

    On the issue of church being responsible with money, I feel it must be asked: How responsible was Jesus with money? Was Jesus open to the charge of “sloppiness” with money? He obviously never stole anything, but it seems he delegated such responsibility to one person (little to no accountability?) and that one person was Judas, who stole from the pot. Just having one person handle the money today is considered bad policy.

    I share the story because I think part of having a high Christology is putting Jesus’ own conduct and teaching at the center of any issue, and further, I think part of our problem is that we give money too much credit and importance.

  • EricG

    In some churches the views of pastors are so skewed against business, and they are so out of touch with the real business world, that it makes little sense to engage them on the very real ethical questions that arise. Both of those are a real problem. It is more productive, for example, to engage my partners in my legal practice (who, while flawed humans, are generally quite ethical) on a question.

  • DRT

    I resemble this post 🙂

    I have two worlds that I will break up into two responses. First, my experience starting and running a small business, second, my Fortune 500 experience.

    I started (well, actually I bought) a small company a few years ago because of my disillusionment in corporate america. Most everything about small business was as I anticipated, you have to be the one, in the end, to really care.

    But the unexpected part for me is the degree to which there are severely unethical people in small business. I had a romantic notion of the small business owners being hard working entrepreneurs, but the reality is that half of them, or probably more, have some fatal quality about them that makes them unsuitable for work in corporate america.

    There are many who will simply lie and steal if it means they can make a short term buck. Sell me equipment that he promised was in the free and clear, but it turned out it was leased (this is pre-recession). He then tried to get me to make the payments threatening me with the fact that he would turn me over to the bank. He could not make that stick, but when the final payment came up he filed a lawsuit for it. Of course he did not win, but I had to defend my self. This is a silly waste of my time and money and his, purely because he is a crook.

    And then there was the company the I negotiated a good three year maintenance contract on services. Six months into it he said he was not making money on me so he said he is cancelling. I tried to explain the idea that the whole idea of a contract like that is to move the risk from me to him, but he says I am the one cheating. I filed a BBB complaint, and that’s when the, uh, stuff, started to happen. This guy had no problem blatantly lying about everything, defaming, it was horrible.

    I now believe that north of 50% of the people who are in small businesses are like this in some way. The sad part about it is that all of this churn and friction simply wastes resources and make them all inefficient.

    My advice to anyone who decides to go into a small business is to choose the people with whom you transact carefully. Although customers do give similar problems, your suppliers are especially insidious.

    Now, the church.

    I did use my pastor at times, and found that he was more like the unethical business people than the upstanding ones. I am not saying that he would advocate stealing, but he was quite a bit more aware of it going on than I was. Over time I realized that my small church was much more like a small business than the Fortune 500 world. And that is the opposite of my Catholic experience where the organization provides for many benefits.

    I had a guy from work over my house when my oldest son was about 10, and my son asked this guy “why do you like to work with my dad?” The guy told him “your dad has more integrity than anyone I have ever met”. Made me proud. So when the pastor of my church and I got on the opposite sides of an issue, I was shocked and appalled that he fought just like the unethical business people.

    I have already written to much, and this is meandering, but I think it paints my picture of small business.

  • Greg Pipkin

    As a former technology engineer for a Fortune 100 company and now in ministry, I think this statement is the 800-pound gorilla: “…he sees that this influence is diminishing as Christianity becomes less a guide for living than a ‘way of making us feel better about ourselves.’”

    This obviously has implications far beyond the corporate world, but it is a key driver for behaviors and attitudes toward the church in that segment of society. It feeds the moral and religious relativism of the culture. Instead of living life in God’s powerful Kingdom, the dominant view is to have God (or Allah or whomever) add his power to our kingdom. The church must reclaim the fullness of the gospel if it hopes to make a real impact here.

    Thanks for the article. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

  • DRT

    I forgot to even touch on the ethical dilemma around pricing, quality, delivery etc in small business. Let’s just say that being optimistic is expected in that level, and your personal decision is based on the character of your company and you.

    There are many exagerations and out right lies in small business. Unlike many, i have chosen to have my company stand behind everything we do. That is our value add. I am certain that many would think that they could not make any money doing it that way, and, unfortunately, many are right. People value money these days above all else. Other intangibles (reliability, sometimes quality etc) many times are valued anymore. It is quite difficult for SB owners to figure out how to make a living.

  • After graduation from seminary, I received my first job as a…supermarket manager.

    What an eye-opener. Everything I’ve read above, I’ve experienced. From either vendors, marketers, employees, and customers: it’s happened and then some. Which brings me to your questions. I’m not sure if they work.

    It’s not that I think the questions are bad ones. Take the first one. Rather than looking for what the barriers are to our faith, I wonder if we might re-frame the question as, “What kind of challenges distract you, either externally or internally or both, in your attempt to follow Jesus in your business/work/breadwinning?” There’s plenty of barriers out there, and as it stands, your question could be applied to public educators, law enforcement, etc. I would propose developing a persistent vision for following Christ.

    Same thing with the second question. Over time in the supermarket, a perspective sprouted into a conviction: pastors and missionaries ought to pray and equip business people (of all kinds) to become faithful as responsible proprietors and employees *and* to become subversive participants in the mission of God. This is the alternative to a single focus upon ethical development, which is a really truncated form of mission.

    On that last idea, it wasn’t until I had some distance from the market that I met and discussed with some business owners- including those who were not Christian, but turns out much, much older than myself- that the profit margin simply wasn’t enough in terms of hosting a business. There needed to be other purposes and goals for why the business existed.

    That is when it dawned on me that business people and employees could be fruitful within the marketplace in God’s mission. And the church could collaborate on this, although at the end of the day: business people need to execute their decisions: not the pastor or the elders.

    I recall much later in life hearing some of the concerns that agribusiness leaders of our church were facing, and that is when this matter of a mission greater than the bottom line really expanded for me: A frost hit, and it was relatively easy to “do the math” and realize that there simply wasn’t going to be enough fruit to justify hiring the people that they had previously projected. The work wasn’t going to be there. Some of those people projected to be hired are homeowners: of new homes. And the church runs a food pantry: a big one. It gets complicated real quick. These fellows, the business leaders, really agonized at a lunch meeting about how to provide work for the people. They had a sense of responsibility and big hearts for those living in the community. They had a sense of mission that was greater than profit, and wondered about how to provide meaningful and paying employment for the community.

  • DRT

    My big company experience goes from time working in the Army (my job was to test new armor systems, yes, I got paid to blow things up and see what happens), and several Fortune 500 companies. I am going to confine my comments on this to large, public companies that have high standards.

    The ethical dilemma is quite different there. There is much less overt skimming, cheating, and lying. It is much more nuanced, and sinister. Over the past 30 years the biggest change I have seen is that the culture in corporations has mirrored the culture in the country. Where being out for yourself, protecting your interests are not the assumed norm. That was not always the case. One of the big initiations into corporate culture used to be how you needed to do things for the greater good at times.

    But this may also reflect the changes in my career going from engineering, where people have an overt social responsibility, to IT and finance where you would think they should, but they don’t. Hence the banking collapse.

    I will give an example of an ethical problem from the past couple years. A VP and one of his managers were going to brief a higher level VP. We all met ahead of time, and decided on the recommendation. The lower level manager was going to give the presentation. In the first few minutes it became obvious that the conclusion we were going to present wasn’t going to fly, and after awhile our audience asked for our recommendation. Normally, the VP would have jumped in and stolen the show and presented the conclusion. But this was not going as planned. So he just shut up, and after some uncomfortable silence let his manager say the original recommendation, and then get slammed for it. Never stuck up for him at all. I was horrified.

    I spoke to the VP afterward and asked why he did that. He said that he thought the manager would have caught on and changed the recommendation on the fly…..I am not so sure that’s what he thought.

    Back to the question, what could the church do in a situation like this? Is it the VP that would have sought pastoral counseling? The manager? Me?

    This type of behavior is rampant out there now. It seems to be the way business is done.

    Again, I wrote too much and did not say enough.

  • DRT

    Susan N#6, I have seen the same thing your husband is seeing. The companies are cutting cost, working people harder and justify it because of the economy. How much is real? Hard to tell, except that you can bet that it is here to stay.

    I have been a progressive my whole life, feeling that the big story in my world is about us all continuing to make progress, get better, do more, live better. I bet you can guess that I am not a fan of that anymore, even in the small stuff. I am starting to think that progress for people is going to look like regress to most, but that is what we should do.

    It is hard to not be complicit in the system when you are a part of it. I was just reading somewhere that it is why all the great moral leaders (Jesus, Gandhi, Shane C..) seemed to lived very simple lives. If you don’t, you are inherently complicit. No way around it.

    And it is from that perspective that I wish people could see their sin. There are many who do not look at their big house and carbon footprint and chinese clothes and etc etc and think of it as sin. Unfortunately I now do but that type of sin makes me feel more powerless than i have ever felt. The only way out of it, is to be out of it…

    I still participate in the system, and try to maintain integrity, that is, have my actions match my words.

  • DRT

    Bob Robinson#10 “When was the last time your pastor visited you at your workplace?”

    Very excellent question. I spent several years trying to get my pastor to come to my workplace so he can see what it is like in corporate america. I now know that he felt he did not need to see anything, but at the time I was frustrated that he would not go. I was telling him, he needs to understand what these poeple do with most of their life if he is going to be connected, but he would not.

  • Bob #10 and Joey #13, you are welcome.

    T #14, I love it! Even Jesus had “church financial management” issues. 😉

    I’m just groovin on reading the stories here. Seems Knapp may be on target.

  • I completely agree with the sentiment of pastors needing to visit the workplaces of their people. Completely agree.


    In light of your experience, which I greatly appreciate you sharing, I will reiterate the passion and hope I have for the church contributing positively here to the glory of God and the betterment of society and business in general. I am not saying it will be easy or completely “successful” in this life. But I know there is hope and I am living in that hope until Jesus comes back.

    I obviously cannot speak to your question of who in your example should have sought pastoral counseling, the VP, manager, or you – there are too many details not included in the example that would be necessary to know before that question could be answered. Were the VP and manager’s professing Christians? Were they involved in a church with accessibility to a pastor that could have given then counsel if they sought it? What was the state of their spiritual life, prayer/devotional life? Were they stuck in a rut spiritually, or were they on fire for God? Would they have considered their spiritual discernment well-trained, or was it confused and immature (Hebrews 5:14)? How would they have described their conscience (1 Timothy 1:8-9)?

    All that to say, the hope I see is churches that listen to the ooncerns of businesspeople who are authentically struggling with these types of situations, and understand their situations as well as possible, and then bring Scripture and the gospel to bear on their situations. I have seen the clarity and fruit of this, and it is very encouraging! But there is more that needs to be done!

  • I meant 1 Timothy 1:18-19 in my second reference..

    Sorry for the other typos also.

  • T

    To deal directly with the questions, the first barrier I see in *living* my faith in the workplace is *keeping* my faith primarily in Christ while at the workplace.

    In order not to be lured or intimidated into a life of serving other masters, I’ve got to remember, even re-experience, that Jesus is Lord and he is love, over and over again. It’s so easy to be sucked in by the threats and promises of the world, both of which take as a given that Jesus is not Lord, at least not here and now enough to take care of us. Of course, this is the antithesis of Jesus’ point in the SOM.

    To me, that’s the first barrier to living my faith in the workplace: keeping it, and keeping it in *Christ*, as opposed to many rival powers, be they human or otherwise, seeking to obtain my allegiance with seductions and threats.

  • Michael,
    I briefly scanned the TOC and the Index of Knapp’s book on Amazon. To my surprise, there is no reference to the missio Dei, but he does explore mission via the lens of the faith/work divide.

    I hope this means more than simply “business supports the ministry” (total fail) or the “be good” and “give a good witness.” Just wondering if this books gets beyond the explorations of R. Paul Stevens of a few years ago: Thanks.

  • T

    On a related note, I used to teach business law at a local Christian university. I made it a point of asking at least once per semester, what was the most productive, active motive at work in the world, every day?

    My way of phrasing an answer, well *my* answer, after letting the students work on it for a while, was “grace.” Undeserved kindness keeps the sun burning, the world turning, our eyes working, our bodies breathing. Grace is–by far–responsible for more energy being expended every second than any other motive at work in the world. Our existence is powered continually and in multiple ways by the choice of God to be gracious to us. It is literally grace, not money, that makes the world go around.

    Now, I would have that conversation because it locates our whole lives within a context. Some behaviors make abundant sense in that context, others do not. Much of what we call business makes great sense in that context, but much does not.

  • MikeK #26

    He doesn’t reference the term misso Dei, but that is clearly present in the background throughout the book. There is some overlap between Stevens and this book, but I think Stevens shades toward the side of helping individuals appreciate their vocation, while this book gets more directly at how the church community needs to shift. You can’t talk about one without the other but I see different emphases.

    This most assuredly is not about “business supports the ministry” (total fail) or the “be good” and “give a good witness.” It is about how to be fully integrated disciples of Jesus in the world.

    Keep in mind the book is less than 200 pages with eight chapters and questions at the back of each chapter. It would work well for a group study. The book is intended to get a conversation starter. It is not a comprehensive analysis. In fact, most of the chapters could be the topic of individual books.

  • Michael,
    Thanks! I like the forward thinking you suggest in your reply, like “most of the chapters could be the topic of individual books.”

    Your next sabbatical effort? 🙂

  • MikeK #29

    Four months from tomorrow my term as the chair of the mission board of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ends. On the next day, the book writing begins in earnest! 😉

  • Dana Ames

    good news about the impending start of your own writing effort – I’ll buy the book, and pitch it to my book group as well!

    Wondering if Knapp interacts with the writings of Sts Basil and John Chrysostom re those with means?


  • Dana, long time, no see.

    Chapter 3 surveys 2000 years of church perspectives on money and wealth in twenty pages. This book just can’t get into the level of detail needed to discuss very many specific thinkers. He is priming the pump to lure people into going deeper.

    Are there any Orthodox writers (past and present) that you think would be germane to the topic of this book?

  • Dana Ames

    The only thing I know about is this:

    But I haven’t read it.

    As far as I know, the division btw faith and work for Orthodox has more to do with that division as promoted by American culture, and how any particular Orthodox person would “buy into” the culture, just as non-Orthodox people do. As a matter of theology, for those O. who are sensitive to it, all of life is to be found in one’s Christian faith -“taken up into Christ”, so the “division” is minimized in that living out one’s faith at work is not to be seen as any different than living it out in any other context. Same “principles” and virtues apply: honesty, humility, etc. As for advice about workplace problems, which would usually be discussed in the context of Confession, it’s like anything else: most priests/monks have good insights; some don’t.

    I stop by your blog every day; just haven’t been commenting much on anyone’s lately.


  • paj

    Barriers in the Australian workplace

    1. Lack of prayer
    2. Misplaced ambition
    3. Narrow view of worship
    4. Under-estimation of God’s Spirit at work
    5. Lack of contentment


    BTW – It’s up to us to educate the Church and encourage paid Christian workers operating from a Church environment to learn how to minister to us.

  • Richard

    This ideal dynamic of “take your pastor to work” day that several have mentioned makes me wonder:

    1) Have you invited your pastor? (I don’t think it’s ever occurred to me to invite myself to a parishioners work place to spend the day with them – though I did ride along in a police cruiser with an officer)

    2) What do you hope for your pastor to experience in this that he/she wouldn’t by having lunch or coffee with you sharing your ethical/faith dilemmas with him/her?

    3) Would your work place allow for this? What about the blue collar work places?

  • MatthewS

    “What do you hope for your pastor to experience in this that he/she wouldn’t by having lunch or coffee with you sharing your ethical/faith dilemmas with him/her?”

    I find that a startling question… (this is meant as a personal reaction, not a slam to someone asking an honest question – I hope I’m not coming on too strong)

    I guess I would ask a minister, do you think you could adequately explain to a young person over lunch what it means to be a shepherd, or do you think that hands-on mentoring might add something?

    My point is that entering someone’s space, seeing the place they stand or sit, the tools they use, the people they are around, the things they produce or fix or whatever – all these things help give a picture of where that person lives. Part of Jesus’ Incarnation was that he walked a mile in our shoes.

    Interestingly, I recently had a friend in the ministry come visit my “day job”. We are proud of our office and enjoy showing it to people. I know my friend meant well but I was embarrassed by some of his comments to co-workers, including some comments he made directly to the CEO. Maybe some people in ministry are utterly clueless about where people live in the work-a-day world?

  • DRT

    Richard#36, the wonderful thing about experiencing things is that it opens you up to the possible instead of the planned. I greatly value diversity and experience (not years-of, rather diversity of). When I worked for the government there was a saying that 10 years of experience in the government is not like it is outside the gov., it is more like the same year of experience 10 times rather than 10 years of experience.

    I will give an example. Just today I was talking with someone about parts of my job. I am much more experienced than this other person in every aspect of what I am dealing with. But he offered, “can I help you with [what you have coming up]?”. At first I said, well, I think I know what I am doing there, but then I caught myself, and said, sure, I want to learn from you, it can only help me! And it did. I built the relationship with that person much more than I would have otherwise. I got to know how they thought about stuff (we all think differently), and I picked up a thing or two that I may be able to use to make my game even better.

    The Holy Spirit like serendipity.