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Business as Mission, BAM, is part of a greater godly plan which the Jews call tikkun olam[1]: repairing the world. We are living in the tension of the world that is and the world as it ought to be. Tikkun olam means co-creating with God, and bridging the gap between the world which is, and to a world as it ought to be.

Unfinished business

God created all things and as He did quality control after each creation or production day, he deemed the products to be good. We are created in His image, to be creative, to create good products and services, to further develop the world that God has created. We do it with God and for people: tikkun olam. Or as the American Jesuit theologian Roger Haight writes in ‘Spirituality Seeking Theology’ (2014): “God has entrusted creation to human beings not merely as caretakers of a past condition but as co-creators with God of the future.”

Bridging the gap

Throughout history and around the globe today we observe the tension of what is and what it ought to be. God has always called and equipped people to bridge that gap. He called Moses to lead the people from slavery in Egypt, to freedom in the promised land. It was a long journey of tikkun olam.

There are tens of millions of slaves in the world today. We need a Moses, an Aaron and a Miriam and many others, to lead people from slavery to freedom. My good friend and Brazilian fashion designer Amanda Prussak has stepped into this gap, building a bridge to freedom through Dress for Freedom [2]. Tikkun olam – repairing the world.[3]

Community

Tikkun olam is co-creating with God, who created in community and for community. Nehemiah wept when he learned about the devastation of Jerusalem. He prayed and made a thorough plan, and engaged the community to restore the walls and the city for the community. Tikkun olam.

For over ten years I have worked closely with the Kingdom Business Community in Indonesia.[4] They have equipped over 10 000 business owners and entrepreneurs, to align their businesses with God’s purposes and for the common good. Tikkun olam.

Do justice, love mercy, walk with God

About a century ago James Dole started a pineapple farm and industry in Hawaii. He was intent loving God and neighbor, and to that end shape his business so it would honor God and serve people. When the trade union came to inspect the company and the working conditions they concluded: if all businesses were run like Dole’s company, we in the trade unions would be out of business. Dole was once asked what guided and informed his business practices, and he referred to Micah 6:8 – to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Tikkun olam.

About 100 years later a BAM group called Transformational SME [5] was founded, that focuses on repairing the world in some of the most broken and challenging countries. I have worked with them for over ten years and we have seen how you can do tikkun olam through small and medium size businesses, helping them to grow in size and profitability as well as holistic impact. What is Transformational SME’s guiding principle? To do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

The Lord’s prayer & BAM

We regularly observe problems and shortcomings around us, and we often take these to the Lord in prayer. We address what is, and pray for a change.

BAM is about intentionally positioning ourselves in the midst of the Lord’s prayer: may your Kingdom come in the marketplace, and may your will be done on earth as in heaven, in and through my business. Tikkun olam.

Thus, we also pray in the spirit of tikkun olam[6] as we repair the world:

Christ with me, as I do business for Him and people

Christ before me, as I plan my business

Christ behind me, as I review my business

Christ in me; my guiding light in business

Creating wealth for human flourishing

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Saks said: ”Poverty crushes the spirit as well as the body, and its alleviation is a sacred task”. There are of course different kinds of poverty and wealth. One can be financially rich but socially poor. One can be endowed with great intellect but suffer from spiritual poverty.

One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of wealth creation[7] and wealth creators when we talk about tikkun olam. Wealth creation is both a command and a gift from God. Moreover, it is a historically proven path to lift people and nations out of poverty. Different kinds of wealth can and should be created in and through business, to contribute to human flourishing. Wealth creation is tikkun olam.

The Wealth Creation Manifesto, now in 17 languages, conveys the role of wealth creation for holistic transformation of people and societies around the world.

We are called to tikkun olam

During and after the corona crisis we are to repair and heal people’s lives and improve the world, bringing hope and healing to the world, also through business.

As business people we have a calling, but we also have a responsibility to proactively pursue tikkun olam, and seek business solutions to global issues.

As John Paul II writes: the lay faithful have the responsibility of being in the forefront in working out a solution to the very serious problems of growing unemployment; … to raise up new forms of entrepreneurship and to look again at systems of commerce, finance and exchange of technology.” [8]

Tikkun olam. Let’s repair the world!

 

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[1] Learn more about the concept, and how Israel applies it. https://www.israel21c.org/opinion-tikkun-olam-israels-most-ancient-and-modern-invention/ . I also strongly recommend a lecture by Rabbi Sacks: “To heal a fractured world”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seiAyrDXKkg

[2] http://dressforfreedom.com/

[3] Dress for Freedom is one of 100+ so called freedom businesses applying tikkun olam through the Freedom Business Alliance: https://www.freedombusinessalliance.com/

[4] https://kingdombusiness.community/

[5] https://www.transformationalsme.org/

[6] See the full prayer at http://matstunehag.com/2017/03/17/st-patricks-bam-prayer/

[7] It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. During August and September 2020, we have published a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto

Learn about the global impact of the Manifesto at https://businessasmission.com/the-global-impact-of-the-wealth-creation-manifesto/ 

Articles:

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World
Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators
Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good
Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church
Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth
Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God
Business as Good News to the Poor
A Cup of Cold Water: Business and the Stewardship of Creation

[8] Christifideles laici 1988

 

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A brief introduction to Business as Mission, BAM

We have produced “talking points” with this infographic.

This document will give you a brief explanation of each of the five points.

http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/BAM-TALK-2.pdf

For a copy of the infographic

http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/BAM-Infographic.pdf

For a social media version, png file

http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Facebook_Version_BAMGLOBAL_website.png

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On March 17 many people around the globe celebrate St. Patrick. He was a human trafficking victim in the 5th century, who became a missionary to the people and land (Ireland) where he was a slave.

Let me share a well-known prayer by St. Patrick, and customize it to a prayer for faith driven investors: (the original is in bold and italics)

Christ with me, as I invest for the common good and God’s glory

Christ before me, as I steward the wealth entrusted to me

Christ behind me, as I evaluate opportunities near and afar

Christ in me, as I invest time, treasure and talents in others

Christ beneath me; He is the foundation

Christ above me, He is the owner of it all

Christ on my right, Christ on my left, He is the Lord of the marketplace

Christ when I lie down, and rest from my work

Christ when I sit down, in my office chair

Christ when I arise, enthusiastic or weary

Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of us, and our vision

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of us, and our work

Christ in every eye that sees us, young and old, rich and poor, countrymen and foreigners

Christ in every ear that hears me speak about our products and services

Glory be to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.

Amen!

PS. I first shared this prayer at the Faith Driven Investors event in Park City, Utah in USA on 24 July 2019.

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She was amazed and perplexed at the same time. She was treated with respect and dignity. She was a woman challenged with disabilities. But her life had changed. With no or little prospect of ever getting a job, she was now working in a manufacturing company. She was creative, she had made friends, and she made money.

Women in this country and religious context were treated as second-class citizens. If they had mental or physical handicaps they were often further down.

But the company she worked for employed and offered jobs with dignity to women with disabilities. It was unheard of, and it made a huge difference not only in her life, but also for the other women who worked there. It even had a transformational impact on families and the community.

This woman asked herself: why is this workplace so different? It changes lives on many levels. She knew that the founder and CEO was a follower of Jesus. So she told herself: If that’s what it means to be a follower of Jesus, I will also follow him. It was a huge and risky step for a handicapped woman in a conservative Muslim environment.

What brought her to Christ? A gospel tract? A Jesus film? A bible study? No, it was human resource management informed by biblical values, underpinned with prayer. Ultimately, it was, of course, God’s doing.

This true story from the Middle East highlights some important issues as we serve God and people in and through business. In BAM as we talk about the quadruple bottom line: financial, social, environmental and spiritual. BAM is not doing business with a touch of ‘churchianity’. BAM is not Christians just doing social enterprise. BAM recognizes God as a stakeholder who has a vested interested in the multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders.

We can and should set goals in each of these four areas individually, as we plan, operate and evaluate.  However, we also need to recognize that these areas of impact overlap, interact and connect; the result is greater than the sum of its parts, as we learn from the story from the Middle East.

The CEO of the manufacturing company served faithfully with excellence, professionalism and integrity. God used that to draw a woman to himself. There was a kairos moment.

We cannot convert anyone by pushing through or forcing a spiritual impact. This is essential as we do business as mission. We must serve our customers, staff and suppliers with professionalism, excellence and integrity, and trust God for the kairos moment.

In the words of the apostle Paul: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.”

Serve people and trust God for impact.

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For an expanded version of the blog, see http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/More-BAM-for-the-Buck.pdf

For blog in Portuguese – BAM: servir pessoas e confiar em Deus para o impacto, see http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/BAM-Serve-People-and-Trust-God-for-Impact-Portuguese.pdf

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Let’s Avodah!

Business as Mission is about taking our Sunday talk into a Monday walk. Whatever we believe and profess in church on Sunday should be permeating our lives and business practices the rest of the week.[1]

But we must strive towards a seamless integration of Sunday and Monday, of work and worship. There is a risk of seeing Sunday and Monday as two separate compartments.[2]

There are pros and cons with compartmentalization. It has been a key to scientific development. But the danger is often that one may fail to see the greater whole, how bits and pieces overlap, interact and connect.

For example, H2O is hydrogen and oxygen. It can be compartmentalized and analyzed and it can manifest itself as water, ice and steam.

The Church teaches that God is triune; we can observe the three in one, and one in three throughout history. We can compartmentalize God, focus on the Son for example. But we mustn’t fail to see how the three divine persons overlap, interact and connect. It is a mystery, indeed, but nevertheless a truth to embrace.

When we deal with Sunday and Monday, with serving God and people, with work and worship, we should learn from the use of the Hebrew word avodah in the Holy Scriptures. It is used interchangeably for work, worship and service.

 

Worship in the temple is different from manual labor in the field. But that doesn’t mean that they are disconnected from who we are, created in God’s image, with a purpose to both work and worship. Work can be worship.[3]

This is also a challenge in BAM and the quadruple bottom line: financial, social, environmental and spiritual. We can and should at times compartmentalize for planning, operation and evaluation. But we also need to recognize that they overlap, interact and connect; they form a greater whole.

We must avoid playing one important entity against the other. It is not hydrogen vs. oxygen, God the Father vs. the Son, work vs. worship or financial bottom-line vs. a spiritual impact. They are not same, but they belong together.

Thus our daily work is intimately related to serving God and people. Our businesses are not a distraction from “doing ministry”. [4]

“Entrepreneurs, managers and all who work in business, should be encouraged to recognise their work as a true vocation and to respond to God’s call in the spirit of true disciples. In doing so, they engage in the noble task of serving their brothers and sisters and of building up the Kingdom of God.” [5]

To work is deeply divine and deeply human. The same applies also to creativity in business. It is a reflection of who we are created in God’s image. But our work is also a part of God’s redemptive mission throughout history. Thus work is part of a greater story – His story. To do BAM for God and people is about making history.

As Pope John XXIII says: “In the work on the farm the human personality finds every incentive for self-expression, self-development and spiritual growth. It is a work, therefore, which should be thought of as a vocation, a God-given mission, an answer to God’s call to actuate His providential, saving plan in history. It should be thought of, finally, as a noble task, undertaken with a view to raising oneself and others to a higher degree of civilization.” [6]

So let’s ‘avodah’: work – worship – serve!

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[1] See http://www.matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Business-as-Mission-is-bigger-than-you-think.pdf for 12 examples of key Christian values and Biblical themes and how they translate into business.

[2] Dorothy Sayers notes in her essay ‘Why Work’: “In nothing has the church so lost her hold on reality as in her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turning to purely selfish and destructive ends. and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. But is it astonishing?  How can any one remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?  The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays.  What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.”

[3] Tomas Aquinas’ definition of beauty also has three parts: Integritas (integrity), Consonantia (proportion), and Claritas (clarity) Again, three in one. They can be analyzed one at a time or two in contrast, but it is the combined three that constitutes beauty.

[4] Check this video: ‘Business like Bach’. https://vimeo.com/152713982 This very short and poignant video makes the cogent point that just as Bach put years of hard work and practice into developing the extraordinary musical gifts given to him by God, some of us are given the gift of business as a way to bring glory to God. We should not see business as a distraction but rather as an instrument worthy of our time, energy and for “the greater glory of God.”

[5] Vocation of the Business Leader, published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

[6] Mater et magistra. Encyclical of Pope John XXII on Christianity And Social Progress, May 15, 1961

 

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