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Consumerism: What Do People Really Want?

It is not only through charity but through work that God had always intended to heal the inequalities of society and provide for the needs of the world.

So what would it look like to do this in modern American life? Let me suggest three ideas:

1) Create space for both generosity and gleaningin your company. Give generously of your profits. All mature Christian business owners I know do this. But also consider a program like Weifield Group's apprentice program whereby you reserve a portion of total new hires for the difficult-to-employ. My friend Wes Gardner also does this at Prime Trailer leasing, to the benefit of both the new employees and existing employees, who are energized by a renewed social mission of their company.

2) Teach, trust, give time. This the mantra of Julius Walls, former CEO of Greyston Bakery. Greyston provides the fudge brownies for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and also practices "open hiring." Applying the concept of the biblical jubilee, Walls' employees can be hired no matter their background. How can this work to hire ex-cons and former alcoholics? Teach, trust, give time. Teach them to do the job well; trust that they can do it; and give them time. Trust is key. Walls found that he was often the first person to have everreally trusted them. And the results were transformative.

3) Think big. John Coors was born wealthy.

Heir to the Coors beer fortune, John has often felt a deep obligation to care for the poor, widow, orphan, and foreigner (he has ten kids, six of them adopted). After seeing many donation-based schemes to help Africa's poor collapse, he created 1001 Voices, a private equity fund in South Africa investing in high growth potential businesses in South Africa. Their first investment was in RedSun, a South-African raising processing business. It's expected to create 3,700 jobs in eighteen months, and provide workers with an average salary of $4,916/yr, in a municipality where the average household income per year is $2,625.

I can understand all the fury around modern wealth disparities. But instead of stirring up more online ruckus and partisan blame, let's ask a different question. What would it look like to follow Karla's lead and give to others the same gift God has given to us: the gift of work?

11/18/2015 5:00:00 AM
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