The ‘Golden Rule’ in action
Bill Westwood suggests that companies deliver a broad value in what they do by bringing order out of chaos and subjecting all creation to the rule of God. The Value Proposition is basically the law of love, includes sensitive communication of the value offered and applies to churches and not-for-profit organisations too.
Ever since I left school in 1974 and joined the marketing department of a major (unfortunately now defunct) motor manufacturer, I have loved marketing. It was the genesis of a lifelong passion for the business world and happened to broadly coincide with the start of my faith journey too. Not that faith and business are separate journeys; it’s a partnership made in heaven. Unfortunately the business and ecclesiastical worlds that we inhabit today all too often collide in conflict and misunderstanding. For that, they are both the poorer.
I will never know whether or not I would have been a force to be reckoned with in marketing (although I suspect not) because somewhere along the way I got lost and became an accountant instead! But finance did teach me how companies worked, and when I finally got to manage a business, it was a big help having a ‘numbers’ background because it’s the numbers that tell the story of the value that a business delivers to its clients. Value fascinates me, and if you are in a frontline commercial function one of the things you learn pretty quickly is that ‘everyone understands cost, but not many understand value’. I believe that value is not only at the heart of business; I shall show how it’s also at the heart of the fundamental biblical narratives of creation and redemption. In fact it’s at the heart of life itself.
Value in business
The way that we thrive in business is by taking materials and services and adding value to them to create a profit. Now profit is a legitimate reward to a company for creating value, but you cannot put a price on everything. The community created when individuals work together in a company is also value, as are programmes that deliver sustainable environmental outcomes. In other words, as Christian business people, our definition of terms like ‘value’ and ‘wealth’ are much broader than the purely economic outcomes used in their calculations by those working in the financial markets.
Value in the biblical narrative
At the outset of the creation narrative, God said: ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’ (Gen 1:28). This is adding value. As Greg Beale observes in his excellent chapter in The Temple and the Church’s Mission, the mission of the first family was to “extend the smaller liveable area of the garden by transforming the outer chaotic region into habitable territory”, to make the world a better place and…