Christian Business and the Ministry of Wealth Creation
I live in the “wealth creation” world. Part of my objective is to help people create and maintain assets that will allow them to live life the way they desire. It’s what all of us in the financial services industry seek for our clients on a continual basis.
One notable difference for me is that, as a Christian, I am constantly seeking to integrate my faith into my work and be “light and salt” to those I interact with. Many believe that wealth and religion are segregated. The thought persists that our finances and our faith have nothing to do with one another. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In recent years more Christians have begun to understand the just how intertwined their faith and their finances really are. From using personal vacation time to serve global missions to donating money, time, and resources to reach out to their community. We are finally seeing that we cannot serve God with all our “heart, soul, mind, and strength” while refusing to surrender our wallet.
There is certainly a right and proper place for discussions around biblical stewardship. Jesus had no shortage of comments on the topic. In fact, while on earth, Jesus spoke more on the topic of money than any other topic; followed closely by hell. It’s interesting that these are the two topics people seem least interested in hearing about when in church.) This being true we can agree that this topic, money, is important.
But the topic goes beyond just mere stewardship. There is a need for robust dialogue around the topic of biblical wealth creation.
Have you ever heard this term? Have you ever given thought to what wealth creation from a biblical perspective looks like?
First, let’s define wealth creation so we are all on the same page. In this context, when we speak of wealth creation, we are talking about alleviating poverty. We are not primarily speaking of amassing personal wealth and adding to our own net worth. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s a right and proper place to discuss this aspect of stewardship. But in this article, we are specifically speaking of alleviating poverty for others through creating industry and commerce and sustainable resources.
A recent article highlighted a document created to specifically address this issue (among others) called the “Wealth Creation Manifesto.” The document was produced by the Lausanne Movement and Business as Mission Global. The group says their purpose was to: “reverse decades of negligence by the evangelical community on this important topic. The great omission has been the role of wealth creation—through business—for the holistic transformation of people and societies, to the greater glory of God. This was the focus of our consultation and its resultant manifesto.”
Seeking to put wealth creation for Christian entrepreneurs and business people in a proper light, another article comments that Christians have made significant strides in recent years to understand economics and how they can leverage their talents and gifts in business to make a significant difference.
“Astonishing success in reducing global poverty has occurred in the last 40 years—especially the last 20. In that period, more evangelicals have come to understand the extensive biblical teaching about God’s concern for the poor—with a corresponding explosion of evangelical programs working to overcome poverty. From the 1990 Oxford Declaration on Christian Faith and Economics to more recent books on economics and market economies, evangelicals have increasingly devoted attention to how biblical faith intersects with the world of business and economics.”
That statement acknowledges two important truths:
First the statement acknowledges that Christians, private citizens, not government, have made significant strides in alleviating poverty around the world. While we are asked to believe that the government of a nation can, with the right amount of taxes, or the right policies, do this work; the truth is that this work is often done best by passionate people, private citizens.
Second, the statement acknowledges a truth we need to be reminded of time and again: any effort to use our gifts and abilities to serve God should be bolstered by Gospel earnestness. For Christians, the Gospel should be our foremost concern, and top of mind. Our efforts should not be merely wealth creation or alleviating poverty. Our concern should be to share the Gospel with others.
It’s true that business, and even Christians in business at times, have not helped people. There’s plenty of reason to criticize the idolatry, greed, and crime that comes in the world of business. And, as Christians we should be willing to face these realities with humility and honesty. But that doesn’t mean we abandon this arena as “godless” and move further inside our churches. It means we stand out among our peers by the way we approach our business and how we leverage our positions.
I have no doubt that the Wealth Creation Manifesto is not perfect, neither is it exhaustive. But it is a great place to start a conversation and to highlight the good done by people seeking to live out their faith through their business. In a world that wants Christians to keep their faith bottled up outside the walls of the church, this is a good conversation to have. Hopefully more people will join the conversation.