The spirituality of professional skills and business
From an article by Business as Mission
Peter Shaukat, who has served in cross- cultural mission for over forty years on six continents in a business context, reflects on his long pursuit of an answer to the question: “How do we integrate our Christian faith with our vocational talents and training in a life committed to the global mission enterprise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”
A young man in his thirties recently confided to me that he had felt a “reluctance to enter business due to concern about mission drift” and that nothing had been offered to him as a Christian disciple to disabuse him of that feeling. Another, now retired, businessman recently come to Christ acknowledged that he could not connect Sunday to Monday and that he was therefore essentially resigned to living a sort of schizophrenic spirituality. The lingering legacy of the “social vs. evangelical gospel” war, to the extent that it continues to influence the landscape of the global church, in some cases with renewed animation, is an issue which must be resolved.
Addressing this issue, Os Hillman states that the church has a major task before it of “rethinking Jesus.” He explains:
"Of Jesus’ 132 public appearances, 122 were in the marketplace. Of 52 parables Jesus told, 45 had a workplace context. Jesus spent his adult life as a carpenter until age 30 before he went into a preaching ministry in the workplace. And 54% of Jesus’ reported teaching ministry arose out of issues posed by others in the scope of daily life experience. Saint Bonaventure said, 'His doing nothing ‘wonderful’ (his first thirty years) was in itself a kind of wonder.'"
We live in a world characterized by widespread protest, with many objects of complaint— multinational business, globalization, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and a host of other issues. Some acts of agitation are more legitimate than others; all are tinged with the reality of sinful human nature. One of these demonstrations of discontent, the so-called “Occupy Movement,” got its name from the “Occupy Wall Street” rally which began on September 11, 2011 in New York City as a protest against the financial industry’s perceived rapacious and unethical behavior and bloomed into a larger global movement directed against rising social and economic inequality.
It may come as a surprise to our protesting world and to those who claim to be followers of Christ to discover that it was Jesus in fact who was (and is) the true Founder of the “Occupy Movement.” For in his enduring words recorded in Matthew, we are told to “occupy until he comes”—and to do so with justice, mercy, and humility. The context of his words is a clear trumpet call to the church to embrace the missional spirituality of the professions, including, notably, the missional calling to business.
We must take note of the fact that there can be no “wealth redistribution” for example, without “wealth creation” in the first place, and it is intrinsic to the nature and practice of business to create wealth. It is intriguing to contemplate that a full embrace of all that Jesus said, did, was, and is may enable us to find more common ground with more of our fellow man, including protestors we might not naturally identify with, than we at first imagined!
Read the full article here.
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