God and Business

Gary Selman

What do you believe about the relationship between God, His Word, faith and work? Have you ever given it any thought? If you’re like most people, even Christians, the answer is probably no. Yet your deepest beliefs, understanding, core values and practices about faith and work have a profound influence on your daily work life. Your foundational beliefs and views on faith and work will determine if you pursue the divine calling God has placed in your heart (spirit). It will also determine the level of trust and reliance you have in God’s Word and your willingness to submit to and obey the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides you throughout the day, helping you to face challenges, make decisions, respond to problems, and interact with others.

What does God’s Word have to say about the world of business? Everything! While most Christians can relate the general events of the first few chapters of Genesis: the creation of the world and mankind and the fall and Adam of Eve in the Garden of Eden, very few have stopped to consider it as a treatise on God, faith and work. Over the years I have observed that many Christians hold some common misconceptions, beliefs, and views about the subject of God, faith and work. For example:
 
1.      God does not understand work or business.
2.      The primary principles and issues concerning work and business are not addressed in the
         Bible.
3.      Faith and work don’t mix and God has no place in our daily work life.
4.      It is impossible to be successful at work by seeking and honoring God.
5.      God’s place is in the sanctuary, not the marketplace.
6.      Lack of understanding when it comes to knowing how to integrate faith and work.
7.      Strong fears and apprehension about “coming out of the closet” and talking about faith at
         work.
8.      Lack of awareness and understanding of the “faith-at-work” movement.
9.      God does not understand the challenges associated with unemployment and job search.
 
Most Christians have never heard a single sermon from the pulpit on faith and work or how to integrate their faith at work, and certainly nothing on “God the First Employer,” “God the First Hiring Manager,” or “God and the First Job Offer.” You might be wondering, “Does God’s Word really address issues such as the hiring process, interviews, and negotiating contracts or job offers?” Yes, it does.

Faith and work are part of God’s divine plan for man and are subjects talked about extensively in His Word. In Genesis 1:1 we are given our very first image of God—a God at work: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” He continues to work creatively throughout the chapter. He forms the first man, Adam in His own image and likeness (Genesis 2:15). Shortly thereafter God becomes the first employer after giving Adam the world’s first job, that of managing and taking care of the Garden of Eden. Ironically, our very first image of Adam is one of a man at work. According to Os Hillman, noted author and speaker, work in its different forms is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible, more than all the words used to express worship, music, praise, and singing combined. The Hebrew word avodah is the root of the Hebrew words for both “work” and “worship” (divine service, worshipping God with joy). Work in its simplest form is a divine creation that carries a divine purpose. It is both a blessing and a heavenly assignment from God, who created us with a divine calling and purpose for our lives (Romans 12:6–8; Ephesians 4:1).
 
A careful study of the book of Genesis reveals with overwhelming evidence that God not only invented work but blesses and rewards those who are obedient and faithful to their calling. To help you better relate to using the Bible as your instruction manual for “life at work,” we have used a business perspective to craft a brief overview of God’s creative work in Genesis. We encourage business leaders to gain a new perspective about God and begin to see Him as a powerful visionary and accomplished leader, who demands excellence, has a strong work ethic, is a masterful communicator and has great organizational and logistical skills. His principles, concepts, and daily habits and practices are not only relevant but indispensable in the world of business. Let’s take a look at the creative work God performed at the beginning of time and in the lives of some of His earliest servants:

1.   God created the first start-up and had the first needs for a work force (Genesis 1:1–31).
2.   God established the first workforce—a man and a woman (Genesis 1:27; 2:7–8).
3.   God created work, and His will for man is to work (Genesis 1:28; 2:15).
4.   God was the first:
          a. Visionary, Inventor, Creator, Business Owner, and Employer (Genesis 1:1—2:25).
          b.  Interviewer, Hiring Manager, and Boss (Genesis 2:15–17).
          c.  Mentor and Coach (Genesis 2:18; 3:22–24).
          d.  Quality Assurance and Quality Control Inspector (Genesis 1).
          e.  Hiring Manager to create incentive programs that drive performance
               (Genesis 3:9–24).
          f.   Manager to perform performance reviews and take disciplinary
               actions for non-performance   (Genesis 3:9–24).
5.   God created the first:
          a.   Job with duties and responsibilities (Genesis 1:28; 2:15–17, 19–21).
          b.  Selection and hiring process (Genesis 2:15).
          c.  Job offer and compensation package (Genesis 2:16–17).
          d.  Performance review process (Genesis 3:9–13).
          e.  Termination and Disciplinary Action Plan (Genesis 3:17–24).
6.   God made covenant agreements, promises, or vows with man
      (Genesis 6:18-22, 9:1–7, 12–13; 17:1–14; 35:9–12).
7.   Man learned from God and entered into covenant agreements
      with other men for mutual gain, benefit, and protection
      (Genesis 21:25-30; 31:44–53). 
8.   Man entered into employment contracts (job offers) with other men
      (Genesis 29:10–28).
9.   Salary negotiations and job duties were discussed and agreed to by
      both parties (Genesis 29:15–18; 30:28–34).
10. Agreements (promises, commitments, or employment contracts)
      between men were often made and broken, as is often the case in today’s
      world of business (Genesis 31:6–7, 41).
11. God made agreements with man (covenants, vows, and promises) that
      provided favor and protection and rewarded faithfulness; He has never
      broken them (Genesis 30:22, 43; 31:4-13). 
 
The link between faith and work continues to be revealed throughout the New Testament as we observe the life of Jesus, His ministry, and the work of the disciples. Jesus was a loyal, obedient worker who understood the relationship between faith and the marketplace. He modeled His Father’s behavior and was purposeful, intentional, faithful, and obedient in executing God’s plan. He was a passionate revolutionary who produced a following unlike any other single individual in human history. Using His servant leadership model, Jesus taught and mentored a small group of disciples who led a movement that changed the world and brought salvation to millions. As author Ken Blanchard has rightly claimed in his book Lead Like Jesus, Jesus gave us the greatest leadership model of all time. The curricula at MBA schools across the country are now beginning to focus on servant leadership as a response to what many academicians and critics have identified as the failure of business schools over the last decade to teach students about the importance of character, integrity, and the need for true servant leaders in the world of business.

As you re-frame your thinking about God’s place in the world of work and look for the relevance of His Word in your daily work life, the Bible will begin to play a much more significant role in your day-to-day activities. You will read God’s Word with a powerful new outlook, knowing that not only did God create work, He wants to be an integral part of your daily work life as He helps you to discover the richness of doing things His way. You will discover that the Bible is a “must read,” an essential on-the-job training manual for work. We pray that you will come to see God’s Word and His way of doing things as an instruction manual in every arena of your life. Do you need help and answers to difficult challenges in your work life? Seek the Lord and read His Word today. Remember, He is the original expert on business. He created it! (See Isaiah 55:8-9).
  
Gary L. Selman is an accomplished author, executive coach and motivational speaker.  He has spent over thirty five years pursuing his calling, encouraging, mentoring and equipping others to live as citizens of the Kingdom of God and to become compassionate, faithful and disciplined servant leaders.  Gary and his wife Karen are founders of the First Call Advisory Group, which ministers to business owners, corporate executives and entrepreneurs. Gary holds a Master's Degree in Clinical & Community Psychology from Stephen F. Austin University.