Borrowing money. Going into debt. Christians are often warned about debt and rightly so, as recent financial meltdowns have highlighted.
Behind all the borrowing and lending is a multi-trillion dollar banking industry that people these days love to hate. An article in Rolling Stone (July, 2009), entitled “Inside the Great American Bubble Machine,” described Goldman Sachs, the most venerable of the investment banks, as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” With press like that it’s not surprising that one source recently reported an increase of filing for handgun permits for self-defense purposes by Goldman executives.
In a recent interview with the Times Online, however, Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, made a shocking statement that attracted no small amount of verbal small-arms fire his way. He said that he’s just a banker “doing God’s work.”
“I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer.” Blankfein confesses, but then argued, “We’re very important. We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle. We have a social purpose.”
Step back a moment from the greed and arrogance of many of today’s financial sector leaders and consider Blankfein’s claim at face value—whether he understood it or not. Does lending have a positive social or even a spiritual purpose? Is it a predatory evil? Is it perhaps a necessary evil? What do you think?
For those of us who believe that all work is God’s work, we think Blankfein is right though he may not have taken his statement seriously. If he did, Goldman would likely be a different company. To read more about the moral good of investment banking you’ll want to read John Terrill’s article in Cardus. It’s a great reminder of the need to reclaim the moral high ground in any kind of work.
Job layoffs and an anemic economy are pushing many Christians to question the purpose of their lives, yet I meet very few who are thinking in terms of the “good works” God had in mind when he designed them. Each of us has a high calling we are obligated to follow, and when we do, this brings God great glory and us great joy.
The quest to discover our calling should begin with four facts we know for certain … To read more go to The High Calling.
I try to read several blogs on the workplace regularly. One is Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Letter (http://blog.threestarleadership.com/). Today Wally referenced an interview with Steve Martin that interigued me. At the end of his interview Charlie Rose asked Martin about the advice he gives to people who want to be a success in show business. Martin’s reply was “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
I couldn’t help but consider how profoundly simple and biblical his advice was. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skilled (gifted) in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Colossians 3:23 says, ” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” It sounds like doing our very best at our work is pretty important to God. Makes you wonder why we don’t hear more sermons on this topic doesn’t it. I think Dorothy Sayers was right when she wrote, “The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.”
People pay attention to good work well done. It not only paves the way for success in your career and pleases God, it opens the door for spiritual influence. If we want people to pay attention to our faith, we have to first pay attention to our work. Work at your work with “all your heart” and people will notice. And as Steve Martin says, “They can’t ignore you.” Work at it “with all your heart as for the Lord” and people won’t be able to ignore your faith either.
Read more about becoming a spiritual influence at work in Going Public with Your Faith. To order a copy click here.
4 Comments »
- Thanks for thinking my blog is worth a read, Bill.As Paul Tillich said, “The test of a religion is its ability to transform lives.” It’s another way of stating the lesson of James 2:18. “I, by my works will show you my faith.”Comment by Wally Bock — March 7, 2008 @ 8:34 pm |Edit This
- Wally, interesting how Biblie references to work or works are thought of as referring to church work or “good deeds.” The quality of our daily work shows our faith as much as feeding or clothing the poor.Comment by Bill Peel — March 7, 2008 @ 9:12 pm |Edit This
- Bill,Last week I was speaking at a leadership conference for men in the Philadelphia area. These were guys who are committed to leadership at home, at work, and in their churches. A conversation arose regarding the origin of work. It turns out that some were laboring under the burden of work as a consequence of sin. (We’ve probably all heard someone grit their teeth in the pulpit and proclaim that as truth).Yet in Genesis 2:15, scripture states clearly that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” That was before the fall. As such, it completely changes the spiritual nature of work and how one can begin to view it properly.
For those not gifted at teaching or evangelism (in the traditional sense), “Being so good that they can’t ignore you” offers a witness–and an opportunity to witness–5 days a week.
Comment by Steve Roesler — March 13, 2008 @ 12:40 am |Edit This
- Steve, I find the view that work is a consequence of sin all to common among Christians, thus they have no idea what God wants to do through them in their work. I hope that you will take a look at “Going Public with Your Faith.” There are all kinds of ways men and women without the gift of evangelism can be highly spiritually influential in their workplace.Comment by Bill Peel — March 13, 2008 @ 10:14 am |Edit This
Our two border collies often remind me of the connection between satisfying work and energizing joy. Although our pets are past their prime, they behave like pups when the opportunity arises to do their “work” . . .
Read the rest of the article at High Calling.