Reflecting on Faith & Co

By Jeff Van Duzer (CFB Senior Fellow and former Dean of SBGE)

In my time serving as Dean of the business school at Seattle Pacific University, I had the privilege of regularly meeting with Christians in business. These were generally enriching conversations and I learned a lot about the good work that was going on in our community. At the same time, however, I often came away troubled. With a number of happy exceptions, one of the sad themes that repeatedly emerged was that many Christians in business did not understand how their day-to-day work in business, in and of itself, had any intrinsic value to God.

In response, the School established a Center for Faithful Business. The Center, with generous support from a donor, began to film stories of Christians who were doing business in “another way.” What started as a single season of 14 films has now grown to 44 graphic case studies covering businesses from around the world. These are offered for free online with the hopes that Christians in business everywhere will come to see their work as part of God’s work in the world.

At the end of last month, a number of the principals of the films gathered together at Laity Lodge for a weekend retreat. This was the first time they had ever connected with each other and was a rich time of sharing their stories and being inspired by the choices others had made. The sharing was very real and vulnerable. Over and over what emerged was a powerful testimony both to the providence of God but also to many personal and painful struggles along the way. Some of the businesses were still going strong. Others had moved on to new ventures. Some shared stories of how the business that had been so positively featured in the film subsequently failed. Some shared stories of the pressures that pioneering another way of doing business put on their finances and their marriages. Some were still leading their companies. Others had been terminated. Some shared stories of how the work had eaten away at their souls and others shared stories of triumph.

The retreat ended with a worship service. And the worship service ended with a closing praise song: Your Labor Is Not In Vain. For me, this was a Holy Spirit moment. It seemed that God wanted to end our time together with a resounding affirmation of the work that these film principals have been engaged in and of the lives of faithful service that they have lived. I could almost hear God saying “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

Your labor is not in vain
though the ground underneath you is cursed and stained Your planting and reaping are never the same
But your labor is not in vain.

Your labor is not unknown
though the rocks they cry out and the sea it may groan. The place of your toil may not seem like a home but your labor is not unknown.

The vineyards you plant will bear fruit
the fields will sing out and rejoice with the truth, for all that is old will at last be made new: the vineyards you plant will bear fruit.

The houses you labored to build
will finally with laughter and joy be filled.

The serpent that hurts and destroys shall be killed and all that is broken be healed.

For I am with you, I am with you. Iamwithyou,Iamwithyou For I have called you, called you by name
Your labor is not in vain.

Credits from Work Songs, released October 6, 2017
YOUR LABOR IS NOT IN VAIN
By Wendell Kimbrough, Paul Zach, and Isaac Wardell
© 2017 Porter’s Gate Publishing (BMI), Hymns From the Porter’s Gate (ASCAP), and Porter’s Gate Publications (SESAC). All rights reserved and administered by Fair Trade Music Publishing c/o essentialmusicpublishing.com.

Jeff Van Duzer, CFB Senior Fellow and former Dean, School of Business, Government, and Economics, Seattle Pacific University.

Center for Faithful Business

Seattle Pacific University

Dr. JoAnn Flett, Executive Director

Email

cfb@spu.edu

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