Here’s a commonly held and very bad Idea: Business is just about making money.
The most deceptive ideas always contain a grain of the truth. This one does too. Business is about making money. But it is not just about making money.
From a worldly perspective, businesses are formed to provide for the economic security of the folks who own and work in that business by providing goods and services that are valuable to their customers. Since food and shelter are basic needs, a business, to be viable, must meet those needs. And it does that by providing goods and services for money. Money then becomes one of the keys to any business. A business that doesn’t create sufficient income is not going to stay in business for long.
The problem arises when the businesspeople focus solely on money as the rationale for the business. When they do that, they miss all the other incredible benefits that accrue to themselves, their employees, their families, their customers, and to society in general.
A business doesn’t necessarily have to create profits, but it does need to be sustainable. In other words, money is important. It’s a core reason for starting a business. But profits aren’t nearly as important as sustainability. And profits aren’t just for the purpose of buying the business owner a better car or bigger home. As we saw in the parable of the bags of gold, reinvesting in the growth of the business is a biblical strategy. Profits fund and empower growth.
Unfortunately, our popular culture promotes a distorted picture of the purpose of a business. The media glorify the “self-made” millionaire, Wall Street awards huge bonuses for those who reach revenue goals, and CEOs are awarded obscene bonuses for achieving quarterly results in publicly held companies. The emphasis on making money has never been more pronounced or glorified.
Pop Culture’s Success
It is thus really easy for the businessperson to react to the popular culture and define the success of the business solely in monetary terms. When we believe the idea that business is just about money, we never see the powerful entity for good that a biblical business could be because we never look for it.
In the research that I did for The Good Book on Business, I discovered a number of benefits to a business run on the biblical model:
- Provides for the economic security of its owners and employees
- Accomplishes a God-given task
- Provides a venue in which to interact with God
- Provides a means of growing closer to God
- Provides a venue for the application of spiritual gifts
- Helps develop Christian character and raise up Godly leaders
- Provides fertile ground for the expansion of the Gospel
- Helps build stronger families
- Provides a venue for the excise of God-given creativity
- Is the primary mechanism for the work of continually adding organization and sophistication to creation
- Provides employees and owners a set of relationships
- Provides employees and owners something larger than themselves to pursue
Myths vs Truth
Unfortunately, because the myth that business is just about making money has so thoroughly permeated our society and our religious establishments, we are just at the starting point of acknowledging the other functions of a business. The next few decades will see the concept that a Biblical business is far more than just a money-making entity take root and transform the economy.
The challenge for all of us is to lead the way in that growing trend. We need to take this idea—that business is just about money—pry it off and discard it in the trash.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the instructions and examples you have given me in your word. Thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit to illuminate my life and bless my businesses. Help me to discern the ideas and paradigms that I have nailed over his light to hinder his activity in my life. Then, Lord, work with me to remove those hindrances so that his light can shine even brighter in my life and my business. Today, Lord, I confess that I have held onto the idea that a business is just about making money. Help me to do away with that idea and begin to see the powerful force for your Kingdom that my business can be.
This post was excerpted from The Good Book on Business, 2017, by Dave Kahle