By: Chuck Colson|Published: September 1, 2006 9:59 AM
Business as a Calling
Growing up in a churchgoing family, John Beckett sometimes wondered whether he ought to go into the ministry. Even though he wanted more than anything to go into business, he had an unsettling feeling that “ministry would somehow be the ‘right’ thing to do.” But somehow, circumstances always seemed to guide him in other directions.
The question came once again after John became a successful businessman and was supporting a growing family. For a long time, he prayed about it. “After several months, and to my surprise,” John writes in his excellent new book Loving Monday, “I sensed it was I who was being asked a very key question: Would I be willing to completely release my involvement in the company and follow a very different direction in life?”
Framed that way, the question was even more disturbing—the unknown often is. But John couldn’t shake the feeling that God was testing his motives, trying to get him to reveal where his heart and commitment really lay. Finally, he writes, “I responded to the query by making perhaps the most difficult decision I’d ever made—a decision to release to God my future and all that I owned, including the company.”
Once he did that, John writes, “The wonderful irony is that in return came the unmistakable assurance that I was where I belonged—in business.”
Many Christians, I suspect, are like John Beckett was, working hard to make money, but not as fulfilled at work as they should be because they feel a vague sense of guilt. They think the only real way to serve Christ is to work for a church, a mission, or a Christian organization. But in the biblical worldview, there is no such dichotomy between the sacred and the secular.
As I have argued in How Now Shall We Live?, all of life is to be under the Lordship of Christ. Our gifts and our inclinations come from our Creator; He has fitted each of us for the occupation in which we can serve Him best. And that means not only ministry, but it includes business, politics, the arts, science, health care, and hundreds of other areas.
Once we realize this, work can be a joy. We discover that we can use our work for God’s glory. In his book, John Beckett lists a number of ways we can use our work for God. As a business owner, he manufactures the best products he can. As the head of his company, he wrote a mission statement that clearly reflects biblical principles. As an employer, he recognizes the worth and dignity of each of his employees, each one of whom is made in the image of God. That led him to craft a generous maternity leave policy, to provide financial help to employees who adopt children, to help employees further their education, and to find other ways to help them grow personally, professionally, and even spiritually.
Not all of us have the opportunity to affect as many people as John Beckett has, but each of us can find ways to serve God through the work He has given us. As John relates in Loving Monday, we can truly dedicate our occupations to God only when we realize that the work belongs to Him and not to us. That ought to be obvious, but is often forgotten in the busyness of our days. Thank you, John Beckett, for this important reminder.
For Further Reading and Information
John D. Beckett, Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business without Selling Your Soul (InterVarsity Press, 2001).