In the previous section, Barry outlined some of the ways in which businesses can serve their communities. Let’s pause a moment to take stock.
Responsible Value Creation: Business is the only human institution that creates wealth; all other institutions consume it or distribute it. And even though money isn’t the solution to all the world’s problems, of course, we can’t have just or functioning societies without it. Think about your industry and your role within it. What practices can you cultivate to create wealth responsibly?
Serving Customers: As Barry explains, God is interested in the minor details of how we conduct our business, not just grandiose projects or strategic initiatives. What are some simple and practical things you can do to serve your customers better?
Creating Environments for Growth: We spend something like 100,000 hours in our jobs, so it’s important that our work environments are places where people can flourish and become most fully themselves. This is especially important for people who have the influence to shape company culture. What can be done in your workplace to allow for people to thrive—to express their creativity and use their talents?
Being a Good Corporate Citizen: It seems like every day our newspapers are exposing unethical, destructive, corrupt, and self-interested business practices across virtually every industry. These conditions offer businesses an opportunity to reflect something of the character of God simply by being good neighbors in their community. What is something that your business can do to contribute to a healthy community life in your context?
It’s important to recognize that Barry isn’t suggesting that companies have to become charities or churches. No—businesses can contribute to the common good precisely as businesses. This means there’s nothing wrong with trying to make a business as profitable as possible.
But it also means that we’re going to need the right framework if our businesses are going to be profitable on purpose. Once we understand that successful businesses are better able to contribute to society, Barry argues, even “mundane” work like filling out spreadsheets, welding car parts, or conducting performance reviews can become sacred.
It’s often been said that the purpose of a business is to maximize shareholder value. Without totally discarding that idea, Barry reframes the question so that profitability can be made to serve the purposes of God.
How would it change your day-to-day work—even the tedious work—to think of it as one of the ways in which God is maintaining and blessing the world?