A fundamental truth about Jesus’ work was that Jesus was giving to people what they needed. Much of the reason His ministry was so valuable was because His work was contributing to the salvation and growth of people’s lives. His work allowed for human flourishing.
Today, we live in a society where not every business does this. We sadly have vast amounts of workplaces that only care for the profit, not the value they’re contributing to society. Instead, they try to eek out redeemable aspects of their business, like they are offering jobs to people. But even then, some corporations and workplaces abuse the privilege of workers by treating them poorly and giving them unfair wages.
If there’s anything Jesus teaches us about our work, it’s that it should be working for the common good of our society.
When we tap into the life of Jesus, we grow sensitive to the needs of our surrounding culture. We cannot—nor are we meant to—ignore it. But a sad truth about many businesses today is that they can and they do ignore their community’s needs.
Businesses that solely care for profit only add noise to society.
As Christians, we should be the first to add value with our work. If you are stumbling on what that might possibly mean, consider these few actions for contributing value with your work:
1. Prioritize the workers.
Costco pays its workers higher wages than Wal-Mart, while also providing benefits to their workers. Though these are costly practices for Costco, they benefit in multiple areas: customer service is through the roof, meaning the company draws in a better profit, retention rate for workers is high, and they don’t spend as much in turnover costs.
When you pay workers more than the going market rate, you choose to care more the person rather than their production, which results in better impact for the business.
2. Avoid interruption.
Marketers like to interrupt consumers with advertisements. It’s a costly endeavor with the hopes that the consumer would buy a service or product with little effort on the company. But this sort of marketing is dying. The best marketing is when you earn permission to be in a consumer’s life. Meaning, instead of interrupting them with something they don’t want, do the hard work to earn their trust and have them come to you. No cheap, gimmicky advertisements. Just value.
3. Deliver free items.
A business that’s concerned about serving people should be more than willing to benefit both the non-paying customers and the paying customers with their services. Don’t just offer what yields a profit. Offer what yields an impact in people’s lives.
4. Love the people you’re serving.
“Let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and truth.” -1 John 3:18
Many of us simply love the idea of love and service, but if we’re honest, how many of us actually do it? We might say our business is about serving, but it is up to us to hold to our word—to not just say we love, but to actually love.
Some businesses believe they can make change by simply gaining enough power and influence over people. But Jesus doesn’t start there when He wants to add value to people’s lives. He starts by actually loving people first.
5. Remain consistent.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” –Hebrews 13:8
Some businesses have trouble remaining consistent with their values, and even their prices. They discover ways to overcharge for their services, and they take it, trampling on the trust their customers had given them.
But one thing we hear about Jesus is that He was consistent, and this consistency never betrays the trust we place in Him. It’s possible for businesses to be consistent as well. This doesn’t mean avoiding growth. Businesses should evolve as a way to steward well the gifts given to them. Remaining consistent means to always stick to your values, and think of the customer before you change what you’re about.
6. Build leaders.
Many people in positions of power can only care for their time in power, not passing on the baton. But the path of solitary leadership leads to a swift defeat in transitions of power. Jesus understood this. He understood that His message would not have been solidified in the world had He not built a community of 12 men around His teachings.
Jesus built leaders, and if we are concerned about the impact of our work over what our work will give us, then we should be concerned about building leaders as well.
This means we use our seats of influence not to rise higher above people, but to reach down and bring others up with us. That’s how our businesses will prosper. That’s how value will be sure to flow from our businesses.
There’s a consistent theme that runs through these actions. It’s one of prioritizing people over profit. Currently in the business world, “people over profit” is a sexy phrase. People love to say they’re about people over profit, but it’s a tricky road to navigate because while people might say they prioritize this value, their actions prove otherwise.
Money, power, and business make the path of serving people a slippery one. But doing our work faithfully can be a tool to truly love and benefit people.
We take our cue from Jesus, who stuck to His mission and values and forever changed the world. Following His example, we know how to give people what they need rather than simply feed our selfish desires with our businesses.
So the path forward—to add value to the world and affect society for the better—is clear: commit our work to Jesus, and value will follow.
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