GOD IS AT WORK: How God Is Transforming People and Nations Through Business Hardcover – 17 Jan. 2006
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Of course, I'm not one to be put off, so I said (as the famous economist had said) that America hadn't really given nearly as much as was committed and as I started to explain, the gentleman more loudly said, "That's completely wrong!!" Then he spoke for about ten minutes, explaining how capitalism without a foundation of moral stability (such as the new Russia) almost always fails. I had to agree with that. Then he spoke about how just learning the rules of business isn't enough, how people who have their hearts changed by a relationship with Jesus do so much better in capitalism. I had to agree with that too.
Till he was done talking, I'd completely refuted everything I'd previously said and was agreeing with him wholeheartedly, knowing how dopey that made me look. As he wound down, he looked at me and said, "Sorry I got so enthusiastic there, I've just written a book on the subject and am pretty excited about it."
Debby and I laughed and laughed as we remembered the situation, as did the others at the table. Me just plodding along, trying to explain the situation to a world expert. Oh well, at least it's not boring being me.
As I read the book written by my breakfast companion, Ken Eldred, I was amazed by both his background and the fundamental shift in world missions he predicts. He examines the model of traditional missionaries, looking at the high cost, the number of countries where they are not welcome and how there are often hard feelings by locals about rich foreigners living in their area with no visible means of support. I've struggled with these problems regarding traditional missions as well. He also notes the sense of diminishing returns from traditional missions.
On the other hand, almost every country wants economic development. He postulates that businesses run by Christians can affect an incredible numbers of lives. These Kingdom businesses work toward a triple bottom line: profits and sustainability; local jobs and wealth creation; and advancing local church and building spiritual capital (honesty, service, excellence, respect, commitment, value, trust, loyalty and quality). These Kingdom businesses may be tiny one-person operations or huge companies, but this important trend could be one of the greatest mission endeavors ever. He outlines the many ways business people can be involved in this type of work. I'm excited about how I might join in this trend, in some capacity or another, and think anyone else thinking about these issues would benefit by reading this book.
Somehow, through the lack of business savvy demonstrated by his contradictory messages (should we hire only Christians like his Indian company, or not as he later mentions you cannot be a witness without others to witness to?) and unforeseen rabbit trails (who edited/organized the chapter layout?), he does manage to offer the same generic message of many other Christian businessmen and women: work hard, pray a lot, listen for that still small voice to guide you. If you buy it for the purpose of stories from a rich Christian getting richer through book sales, enjoy. If you buy this book to learn how to best be a Christian businessperson, what few suggestions it provides are going to reiterate what you already know.