James K.A. Smith has written extensively on how our hearts are—often unintentionally—formed by our habits. What investing habits are we participating in that may be subtly shaping our view of money?
Jeff Van Duzer:
Shareholders are critical because you need them to provide the capital and they have every right to ask for a reasonable risk adjusted rate of return, which I think is imperative that businesses over the long haul deliver on. But the classic business model over the last 50, 60 years has been, the whole purpose of this is to get as much as you can to the shareholders. And sure, we should be nice to our employees because that’ll reduce turnover, cut costs, more money for shareholders and we should make products that are good and build brand loyalty, increase sales, more money for shareholders. But under this model, employees and customers are there to serve shareholders. And I’m suggesting that from a Christian standpoint, we ought to look at it the other way around.
What would God say is the purpose why God wants business to function? I think there are some fundamental first order purposes of humanity that can be addressed most effectively through business. One is that the business exists to provide opportunities for individuals to engage in creative and meaningful work. People made in the image of God entering into that kind of work. And then the second is that it’s to create products and services that will enable the community to flourish. And that those are the two first order principles. I think profit is very difficult to achieve. I have huge respect for business leaders that can consistently secure profit. It’s just that profit isn’t the goal. There’s a variety of ways to think of it but I tend to describe it as the means. Running a profitable business enables me to do these things that I’m supposed to be doing, which is serving in these two key respects.
This communication is provided for informational purposes only and was made possible with the financial support of Eventide Asset Management, LLC (“Eventide”), an investment adviser. Eventide Center for Faith and Investing is an educational initiative of Eventide. Information contained herein has been obtained from third-party sources believed to be reliable.