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Three Great [Business] Commissions

This abstract is from a short and insightful article by Peter Heslam of Faith in Business, which reminds us that we carry our faith with us no matter our job title. Though Christian centric, the article holds true for people of all faith traditions (even your individual faith tradition). You can read the full article here and we encourage you to do so.

A few days ago, a business leader told me that, when he began his career working for an international mission organization, he was often prayed for at church. But when he later decided to go into business, those prayers stopped. While his decision was faith-filled, his career change meant his fellow churchgoers lost the motivation to pray for him.

My friend’s story had a familiar ring, from the many similar stories I had heard. The implicit message they carry is that seeking to live out your faith in the contemporary workplace, in a familiar culture, is of less interest to God than you becoming a mission professional in an unfamiliar culture, preferably overseas. Explicit grounds for this notion are often found in Jesus’ words - the so-called Great Commission.

Image Credit: Faith in Business

This commission deserves the epithet ‘great’. Its weight is signaled by it coming from the mouth of the resurrected Son of God, as his final words at the climactic end of Matthew’s gospel. It is also signaled by it having inspired Christian mission from the days recounted in the Book of Acts until today.

Yet this final commission echoes the first commission – the charge God gives to human beings at the start of Genesis to use their creative abilities as God’s image-bearers to exercise responsibility and stewardship over the world and its resources (Gen 1.26-28; 2.15; 9.1). Just as the final commission has inspired centuries of global evangelism, the first commission (sometimes called the Cultural Mandate) has inspired centuries of global cultural engagement and transformation.

This evangelism and engagement have, moreover, been most effective when carried out in observance of a third great commission. This is the so-called Great Commandment: to love God with our whole selves, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mk 12.30-31). From a Partnership Economics perspective, we speak to attending to these commissions within the context of the marketplace with the ethic of "love your [economic] neighbor as yourself."

Through his business career, my friend has had immense spiritual and social impact. This serves as a warning to avoid the trap his fellow churchgoers had fallen into, of allowing our love for the Great Commission to be more evident than our love for the Cultural Mandate and the Great Commandment. We need to love all three.

An important aspect of the workplace wellness and wellbeing movement advocates for being a whole, integrated, and congruent person in the workplace. In other words, don't divide or compartmentalize yourself at work. When we are whole, integrated, and congruent we reduce our stress level because we're not working against ourselves by projecting a false persona. What would it look and feel like to give yourself permission to practice what you believe (or what you sense feels right if "believe" is too strong a word for you) by practicing each of these commissions in your work? It should look and feel like a transformative move toward better capitalism.

What about you? Share your story, question, comment, idea, disagreement -- yes, we welcome disagreement for the sake of mutual benefit! -- with us at We will give a thoughtful response.

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