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He who marries the latest trend will soon be a widower

In times of crisis things are sifted. We often see and then focus on what is important. A crisis can reveal what we really value and should prioritize. It applies when we get seriously sick, when there is an upheaval in our family or even during a pandemic. The sifting process may also show what really stands the test of time, and what is a mere short-lived trend.

The global crisis and cataclysmic disruption in recent times has clearly shown that Business as Mission, BAM, God honoring and people serving business, is not a flickering trend. But as we continue to pursue business for God, people and planet, we must be well grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and deeply rooted in history as well as in the teachings of the Church.

Deeply Rooted

It is of utmost importance for the global BAM movement to dig deep into its roots, to draw on the rich heritage we have. We must recognize our roots and understand our history, and acknowledge that we are standing on shoulders of giants who have gone before us.

Remember that Martin Luther was a Catholic and Jesus was a Jew. Our worldview and business practice must be thoroughly infused and constantly informed by a few millenniums worth of Judeo-Christian thought[1]. BAM and faith driven entrepreneurship did not start with us, even though it is experiencing a global surge in our generation. But it will only have a lasting impact if we are deeply rooted for the future.

Our Jewish Heritage

The late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, an intellectual giant, wrote an essay 20 years ago which helps us understand our Jewish roots when it comes to a worldview conducive for problem solving and innovation, the sanctity of work, and the role of business for human flourishing[2].

Biblical thought has demythologized nature, which can be rationally understood and thus stewarded for creative solutions to human needs.[3] Furthermore, a linear concept of time is essential to human progress. We are not stuck in an endless, repetitive and meaningless circle of life. God himself is orchestrating a narrative from the garden to the city. Yes, history is His story. These are essential ingredients shaping our worldview and, consequently, our involvement in business.

The Genesis account of the creation mandate is clear: God, taught Rabbi Akiva in the second century, deliberately left the world unfinished so that it could be completed by the work of man. Industry is more than mere labor. It is the arena in which we transform the world. [4]

The BAM movement is aligned with this aim of transforming the world. It is related to what the Jews call tikkun olam: repairing the world. 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.[5]

Work is Sacred

Work, creativity and human dignity are related, because we are created in God’s image. Rabbis Sacks contrasts animals and human beings: Work, in other words, has spiritual value, because earning our food is part of the essential dignity of the human condition. Animals find sustenance; only mankind creates it. [6]

This relates to the Hebrew word Avodah which means to work, worship, and serve. Thus, BAM pursues a seamless integration of work, worship and service. The thirteenth-century commentator Rabbenu Bachya said: “The active participation of man in the creation of his own wealth is a sign of his spiritual greatness.” [7]

Professor Angelo Nicolaides expresses an Orthodox Church perspective on this: In Old Testament times work was the way in which one worshipped God. He goes on to say: Christians should thus view work as a mission”. [8]

Judaism values work, wealth creation and a framework of freedom which accommodates dignified work and the creation of wealth through business. They do not struggle with sacred – secular divide which so often is prevalent among Christians.

But as we search our roots and traditions, we will discover – thankfully – that the Church has never endorsed this dichotomy.[9] Bishop Barron[10]: When God came among us in Christ, he effected the work of repairing his broken and hurting creation. He is not interested simply in souls but in bodies as well. [11]

Work and business are reflections of the trinitarian God, and also who we are created in His image. God is love and collaboration[12], God created in community and for community[13]. So, being a faithful worker individually, and being creative collectively – also in business – are both deeply divine and deeply human.

As Angelo Nicolaides rightly observes: “The notion of business is recognized within the creation account where it is clear that man cannot work alone.[14]

Private Property

The right to private property is intrinsically linked to freedom and human dignity. This is a long and strong Judeo-Christian tradition, and the teaching is clear.

Rabbi Sacks again: For a ruler to abuse property rights is, for the Hebrew Bible, one of the great corruptions of power. Judaism is the religion of a people born in slavery and longing for redemption; and the great assault of slavery against human dignity is that it deprives me of the ownership of the wealth I create. At the heart of the Hebrew Bible is the God who seeks the free worship of free human beings, and two of the most powerful safeguards of freedom are private property and economic independence. [15]

Pope Francis published an encyclical latter called Fratelli Tutti in October 2020.[16] Some accused him of diminishing the right of private property or rejecting democratic capitalism.[17] A problem with modern journalism is often the lack of understanding, or the will to understand, historical contexts. To comprehend the Catholic church and its teachings, one has to review centuries of profound thinking, often expressed in encyclicals. More on this later.

Pope Francis stands firmly in the tradition of St. John Paul II, who saw the market economy as an arena for the exercise of human creativity, ingenuity, and courage. … He also reiterates the teaching of the founder of the modern Catholic social tradition, the great Leo XIII, who, in Rerum Novarum, strenuously defended private property and, using a number of arguments, repudiated socialist economic arrangements. [18]

In numerous Papal Encyclicals stretching from Rerum Novarum (1891) to Centesimus Annus (1991) there is an unambiguous affirmation of private property, and linked to that the obligation to share with others, especially the poor.

While affirming private property the Judeo-Christian tradition also acknowledges that God is the ultimate owner and stresses our responsibility to be generous stewards. Rabbis Sacks: “Ultimately everything belongs to God. What we have, we hold in trust. And there are conditions to that trust—or as the great Victorian Jew Sir Moses Montefiore put it, “We are worth what we are willing to share with others.” [19]

Dignifying Way to Help the Poor

Caring for the poor and needy is a commonly held belief and practice among Jews and Christians along a broad spectrum. Christians have in general – and throughout history – focused on charity responses and handouts.[20] But in the Jewish tradition “the highest degree of charity, exceeded by none, is that of a person who assists a poor Jew by providing him with a gift or a loan or by accepting him into a business partnership or by helping him to find employment—in a word, by putting him where he can dispense with other people’s aid.[21]

Handouts never give dignity. Jobs do! How can we best help a poor child, what is a long term and dignifying solution? Give the parents a job!

Jews, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants on Wealth Creation

This leads us into the conversation about wealth creation and wealth sharing. Hoarding of wealth is wrong, but both creating and sharing wealth are commended. But there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created. Generosity is a virtue, but aid is not the ultimate answer to poverty.

The sages were not so much concerned with the elimination of poverty through redistributive taxation. Instead, what they sought to create was a society in which the poor had access to help when they needed it, through charity to be sure, but also and especially through job creation. [22]

As we connect with our roots, we build a stronger foundation for the future. And if you want to build a skyscraper you need to first dig deep and establish a firm foundation. As we build a BAM movement that will rise high and last long, we should pour Jewish and Christian lessons learned into the foundations of our businesses and other BAM related initiatives.

The value of creating different kinds of wealth through business is endorsed in both rabbinic and Christian traditions. As Pope Francis says: “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” [23]

BAM Global[24], together with the Evangelical Lausanne movement[25], organised a global consultation in 2017 around the issue of wealth creation for holistic transformation. Our findings were documented in seven papers, a summarising manifesto and an educational video series.[26]

The Wealth Creation Manifesto[27] is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian thought, but also adds to a firm foundation for our day and age. Excerpts:

  1. Wealth creation is rooted in God the Creator, who created a world that flourishes with abundance and diversity.
  2. We are created in God’s image, to co-create with Him and for Him, to create products and services for the common good.
  3. Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-given gift, which is commended in the Bible.

This is also mentioned within the Orthodox Church tradition. God is giving wealth to serve His purposes.[28]

Each generation has to review and highlight old age concepts and truths, and see how they apply to today’s context. That includes various arenas and constituencies, like business, church, and academia.

Intellectual Wealth

It would be a costly mistake to neglect the intellectual wealth generated over the centuries in both Jewish and Christian traditions. Please allow me to recommend one of the better books I’ve read recently: Papal Economics, by Maciej Zieba.[29] He does an insightful overview and critical analysis of a dozen Papal encyclicals published over 100 plus years. They deal with issues like work, business, wealth, property rights, democracy, market economy, socialism, and human dignity and freedom.

The author, philosopher and theologian Michael Novak, who has written the foreword says: “For a long time to come, this book may well be the definitive work on the economic teaching of the modern popes.”

Beyond an Academic Exercise

A tree can flourish and give fruit as long as it has roots through which it can draw life giving water. An olive tree can produce fruit for over a thousand years – if rooted and nurtured. The purpose of this article is beyond an academic exercise. We want to serve God and people through business – among all peoples ­– in our lifetime but also for generations to come. Thus, we need to be deeply rooted for the future.

Mats Tunehag

Article in Russian: https://businessasmission.ru/ukorenyatsya-radi-budushhego/

Article in Portuguese: Profundamente Enraizados para o futuro / Deeply Rooted for the Future

Also available at:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/deeply-rooted-future-mats-tunehag

https://www.transformationalsme.org/deeply-rooted-for-the-future/

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[1] All truth is God’s truth! We mustn’t be afraid of or instinctively reject statements just because they come from sources we are less familiar with or skeptical to.

[2] Market and Morals, by Jonathan Sacks. Aug 2020. I am indebted to Sacks’ books, articles, and lectures, and will draw especially from this essay in this article. https://www.firstthings.com/article/2000/08/markets-and-morals

[3] At its core it is a Jewish heritage, and fully embraced by the Church. This is also mentioned in Laudato Si, #78, by Pope Francis. 2015

[4] Ibid.

[5] See http://matstunehag.com/2020/10/04/tikkun-olam-repair-the-world/

[6] Market and Morals, by Jonathan Sacks. Aug 2020

[7] Ibid

[8] Ethics and the dignity of work: An Orthodox Christian perspective, by Angelo Nicolaides. Pharos Journal of Theology ISSN 2414-3324 online Volume 101 – (2020)

[9] There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called “spiritual” life, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called “secular” life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture. … This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age”.  Christifideles Laici: The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II to bishops, priests, deacons, women and men religious and all the lay faithful (December 30, 1988)

[10] Advent Gospel Reflection, by Bishop Robert Barron, 16 Dec 2020.

[11] See short vignette in the Wealth Creation video series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJajgVcPyzo&list=PLYGxDL2dvuo5k-Uk8FGxZj1QYcBe70_Vx&index=2

[12] The trinitarian reciprocal love, interdependence and collaboration, have bearings on our relationships and responsibilities, also for the planet: Relational human existence involves interdependence and interaction simultaneously between human beings themselves and the nature they commonly share and companies need to be clear on this. … They should also endeavour to serve environmentally friendly planetary needs so that future generations may also enjoy God’s creation. Ethics and the dignity of work: An Orthodox Christian perspective, by Angelo Nicolaides. Pharos Journal of Theology ISSN 2414-3324 online Volume 101 – (2020)

[13] John Paul II consequently describes the essential community aspects of business, saying that a company is a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society. Centesimus Annus, 1991

[14] Ibid

[15] Market and Morals, by Jonathan Sacks. Aug 2020

[16] http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html

[17] See Bishop Barron’s clarifying article: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/pope-francis-fratelli-tutti-and-the-universal-destination-of-goods/28906/

[18] Ibid

[19] Market and Morals, by Jonathan Sacks. Aug 2020

[20] There is of course, as in life in general, often a tension between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Laudato Si, #128, by Pope Francis. 2015.

[21] Market and Morals, by Jonathan Sacks. Aug 2020

[22] Ibid

[23] Laudato Si, #129, by Pope Francis. 2015.

[24] https://www.bamglobal.org/

[25] https://www.lausanne.org/

[26] http://matstunehag.com/wealth-creation/

[27] https://bamglobal.org/report-wealth-creation-manifesto/

[28] Ethics and the dignity of work: An Orthodox Christian perspective, by Angelo Nicolaides. Pharos Journal of Theology ISSN 2414-3324 online Volume 101 – (2020)

[29] Maciej Zięba, OP. “Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate. 2013

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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 18 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!

PS. Article available in German: Tikkun Olam: Die Welt wiederherstellen

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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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