The trials of high-profile Christian businessmen this year have sent a clear signal: Many believers have little idea how their faith relates to their work.
After the July sentencing of WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers for his part in the largest corporate fraud case in American history, commentators had a field day. They pointed to the disconnect between the professed faith of this "good Christian man" and the way he led his management team in the paths of deception. The convicted Ebbers, the acquitted HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, and the yet-to-be-tried Enron executive Kenneth Lay are all known as active churchgoing believers.
Most pastors do not feel equipped to discuss violations of business law at the top levels of major corporations. But the church does need to help its businesspeople develop a fundamental understanding of what it means for Christians to engage in business. Unfortunately, when pastors do speak about business, it is often with a suspicion informed by an unexamined pop-Marxism. They rarely affirm businesspeople in their callings.
Here are a few fundamental principles that pastors can begin with as they think through ways to bless the businesspeople in their pews.
First, the Christian's calling in the business world is not primarily about evangelism. Nor is it about being "nice." As good as those things may be, business is fundamentally about serving others. As Robert Sirico of the Grand Rapids-based Acton Institute writes: "When people accept the challenge of an entrepreneurial vocation, they have implicitly decided to meet the needs of others through the goods and services they produce. If the entrepreneur's investments are to return a profit, the entrepreneur must be 'other-directed.' Ultimately, business ...1