It seems strange that I would title this post as “Business is Intrinsically Good”. Many of us perhaps never thought there was anything particularly “bad” about it in the first place, but at the same time – and I know this from experience – we’ve only ever looked at profit and our job and work as only “necessary”, not something that is, in and of itself, actually a good thing.
My mind has changed. Whereas before I would see non-profits and churches and those kinds of things as where the real action of doing good takes places (over and above our personal lives and the family, of course) I always thought business had one real goal: to make profit. And so, because I’m not a guy who gets particularly excited about working with money, I always chalked up business as something the “business-minded guy” does. It’s not my gifting.
However, what if the idea that the goal of a business is to make profit is entirely the wrong idea? This is something I’m exploring and I’m suddenly seeing some fantastic opportunities that have been incredibly beneficial for my ghostwriting and copywriting business.
“We don’t teach profit as the end of a business. It is the means. The purpose of business is to serve. Profit is the means that enables the business to attract the capital it needs in order for it to pursue its first-order purpose.” – Jeff van Duzer
There’s a great quote you can read more about at the Seattle Pacific University website. Listen to it carefully – profit is the means that enables business to attract the capital it need to pursue it’s first purpose, which is to serve.
Think about it. When profit is the end we keep running into all sorts of problems. When serving is the end and both labour and money are ways to achieve that end, then we find certain other things happen. One, the labour finds meaning. Two, the labour is able to enjoy a fair salary.
It seems odd that we have to be reminded about this. Don’t all businesses talk about their ‘service’? But our general culture sees service as a way to profit. Good service equals great profit, and that’s the goal. But we have to turn that on its head – good profit equals good service, and that’s the goal.
Ok, but why do I say business is intrinsically good? Because business is the only method in which our lives are enriched. I can’t build a great house for myself, but architects and builders can. They serve me in this. This service is intrinsically good – it enriches the community in which it operates. That’s what all service does, whether it’s a “for profit” or “not for profit”.
Churches and non-profits perform one function and these are good functions. I don’t believe a church community should seek to make a profit from others. Rather, those in the church, which are the church, make the profit to enrich that church community, much like those in a family enrich a family when they’re providing and supporting it. Provision and support are intrinsically good, and business is also a part of that.
Interesting thoughts and I’m loving exploring this topic.