This post first appeared here at the blog of the Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement.
In this installment of our series featuring resources on Faith, Work and Economics, we recommend Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace.
In this book, Wong and Rae present a Christian perspective on work, focusing on the concept of business as a transformational service for the common good. Incorporating a variety of real-world stories, the authors explain how Christian values can inform areas of business such as management, marketing, and environmental sustainability. They also suggest areas where business should be affirmed—as well as reformed— including practical ways to engage the corporate culture and live out biblical values in the business world.
3 Key Points from the Book
Here are just three things we learned while reading Business for the Common Good.
Business is a calling to transformational service for the common good.
We need to reexamine our view of business and approach our work week as a partnership with God. Rather than seeing business as merely focused on external goods and profits, we must acknowledge the value of the work itself and the contributions businesses can make to improve the lives of people. This is because God wants us to flourish by being in relationship with him and living in harmony with our neighbors and his creation.
The business world can be an arena of spiritual formation.
How can the workplace contribute to a person’s spiritual formation? The business environment reveals character. It can also refine our spirituality because it requires and nurtures service, trust and perseverance—all good virtues. This is why spiritual formation can happen even through the mundane tasks we face. More than this, intentionally engaging in spiritual practices and taking a more biblical approach to business can help put our work into perspective and prevent an unhealthy over-identification with work.
Marketing can actually contribute to human flourishing.
Marketing can help us make informed decisions about products we need. Branding can help to facilitate marketplace accountability. However, we need to acknowledge that these things can also work against human flourishing by reinforcing a culture of materialism or a consumerist perspective on life—things that lead to all kinds of social and ecological problems. Still, rethinking the broken parts of marketing is important. This is just one part of the process in transforming businesses, institutions, and global economic systems so they can better reflect the way God intended the world to work.
Business for the Common Good is a clear, accessible introduction to a Christian perspective on work which would benefit not only pastors and leaders in the church, but students looking to enter the business world and believers who are beginning to see business as more than a paycheck.