New Book: Why Business Matters to God

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

In the sixties and seventies, Jeff Van Duzer grew up in a decidedly anti-business, anti-establishment city—Berkeley, California. He even received his BA in Rhetoric from Cal Berkeley before moving to the East Coast where he attended Harvard Law. Armed with his law degree, Jeff practiced business law for twenty years before accepting a professorship at Seattle Pacific University. He now serves as the Dean of the Business School there. A few weeks ago he came to speak at Laity Lodge.

Jeff Van Duzer’s new book Why Business Matters to God has a rhetorician’s logic and a lawyer’s attention to detail. The premise: “The Christian in business is in the business of rendering service that will enable humanity to flourish.”

Beginning in the Garden, Dean Van Duzer points to the Creation account. “As originally created, the Garden of Eden was a perfectly resourced environment.” Then something happened—the Fall. It damaged the relationship between God and his people. Adam and Eve’s desire to be like God separated them, and us, from living in “the easy relationship between God and Adam.” God’s shalom is shattered.

Jeff explains, “This broken relation manifests itself in many ways in business.” Not the least of these being meaninglessness. Finding meaning in our work is an important personal need. Our work should be God-centered because we glorify God through it.

Why Business Matters to God gives us hope. The book traces what the Bible says about work—from Creation to the Fall to the incarnation of Jesus to the Kingdom of God. Exploring topics such as human flourishing, business as service, God’s shalom, the common good, and kingdom values, Jeff Van Duzer provides a coherent and inspiring vision to redeem business.

This book has significance for the work of TheHighCalling. Consider how he addresses both the idea of human flourishing and our desire for purpose and meaning.

He explains human flourishing like this:

  • “When businesses produce material things that enhance the welfare of the community, they are engaged in work that matters to God.”
  • “Shalom is the human being dwelling at peace in all his or her relationships: with God, with self, with fellows, with nature…. But the peace which is shalom is not merely the absence of hostility, not merely being in right relationship. Shalom at its highest is enjoyment in one's relationships…. To dwell in shalom is to enjoy living before God, to enjoy living in one's physical surroundings, to enjoy living with one's fellows, to enjoy life with oneself”

He explains our desire for purpose and meaning like this:

  • “Given my core competencies and the assets under my control, how can I best deploy my resources to (1) enable this community to flourish, and (2) provide opportunities for my employees to engage in meaningful and creative work?”
  • “Only when businesses are fulfilling their God-given purposes are they engaged in kingdom work. So it is important that we start with purpose—but of course we don't end there. Purpose must be joined with limits and set in the context of partnerships if business is to be truly all that it was designed to be.”

These are exciting concepts for our work and business! How does your work fulfill your God-given purpose? What limits do you run up against in the daily grind of your work?

Photograph "Water Bucket Splash III" by Jerry Lindholm, used under a Creative Commons License.

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