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How Creative Business Blesses a City

How Creative Business Blesses a City

Phoenix native Aaron Klusman's fast-paced career is a model for Christian entrepreneurs nationwide.

Baseball was Aaron Klusman's first career. A Phoenix native, he played while attending Brophy, a private Jesuit school downtown, then became an All-American pitcher at Arizona State University (ASU) before signing as a top prospect with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004.

But sports is an especially front-loaded career, and when injuries began sidelining him, Klusman was forced to face the reality of life without baseball. "I had fully planned on being the best baseball player in the world," he says. "Then I started asking: If I don't have baseball, who am I?"

Some of Klusman's ASU teammates were Christians, and through involvement with the campus chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes during his freshman year, Klusman began reading the Bible for himself. "God was working on a lot of different fronts, opening my eyes to the truth of who he is," Klusman says. "Life suddenly had color, and I discovered a purpose greater than myself."

A Broken Theology of God and Business

While playing at ASU, Klusman tried his hand at business by starting a retail clothing company, which grew to include sales representatives nationwide. As the business took off, and as doubts about a future in baseball mounted, Klusman began sensing that God may have uniquely equipped him to be a businessman. But he struggled to reconcile this new sense of calling with his budding faith.

"I was your poster child for a broken theology of God and business," he says. "I was in this horrible spot, feeling God had wired me for business, but with a theology that said God's against money."

Klusman considered becoming a pastor or otherwise "going into full-time ministry." Eventually, however, he realized he might not be gifted for pastoral ministry and that even pastors aren't immune to the sins of pride and greed. "We can't outrun our sin circumstantially," he says.

As he took steps to develop his entrepreneurial ventures, Klusman began meeting for coffee with a longtime friend and former teammate who had become a pastor in the area, to discuss what it might mean to engage the city of Phoenix, looking at it "from two sides of the coin" – one as a pastor, the other as an entrepreneur.


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Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

Don B

November 12, 2012  11:18am

Thanks for offering this insight through the example of Klusman and the Camelback Society. I launched a business a year ago and am beginning to realize that I am subconsciously holding back in some ways, because of my perception that as a Christian I am not supposed to desire economic success. I really appreciated the statement that our handiwork, when based on God-given gifts, doesn't have to be stamped with a Bible verse to honor him. My prayer is that your readers will discover what this means for them (and for me too).

Aly - businesslady

October 18, 2012  11:53pm

It is too bad that the group doesn't allow Christian women who need fellowship and the collegial support of like-minded business people. Many women have a very hard time finding support and sponsors to help them grow as business owners/leaders.

Nathan Magnuson

October 16, 2012  9:22am

Thanks for the insightful article. The more we can do to support business folks and entrepreneurs, the better!

A Hermit

October 14, 2012  1:24pm

This is a wonderful article pointing out some of the 'issues' that confront Christian 'businessman'. Above all, we as human beings must not separate out 'economics' and 'business' from the whole of creation, and the whole of human life. Our life and material well being stems from creation; the 'economic engine' is fueled through the 'consumption' of creation. Trees provide shade, habitat, soil retention and conversion of CO2 to O2; none of that is figured (now) into the 'market value' of the tree, which only comes down to the worth of board feet of lumber for human consumption. Our capitalistic economics reduces human work and effort to be for the primary object of individual and corporate gaining of material wealth. This ignores the effects of treating individuals as objects, as a means to an end, and ignores the psychological and spiritual effects of using them in that manner. Work for Christians, is to be of love, service, and the sharing of talents, not 'maximizing profit'.

Randall White

October 12, 2012  12:41pm

Thanks for a good article on how business is an important component of God's redemptive plan, and the network in Phoenix trying to cultivate relationships around that theology. Given that the article was in the This is Our City feature, I confess I had hoped for an article on the power of business as mission in U.S. urban centers, or on models of Christian owned business that are stabilizing fragile communities, or on the rapidly developing examples of social businesses that are being tried by faith based groups in various cities. I'm glad business people in Phoenix are meeting together for encouragement and vision. There are many groups like this in cities. What we need to see more of, though, are models of businesses being used to turn lives around, provide opportunities for people who have barriers to employment, and creating access points to opportunities for low income communities.


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