Recall from my thesis presented in an earlier posting today (March 22) that:
A) The image of God in humans established at Creation has been marred and needs to be restored. The purpose of management and management education are directly related to this restoration process.
B) God’s great plan of redemption includes the restoration of His image in human beings.
C) The restoration process involves imitating the character of Christ.
The Story of Scripture is that the image of God that has been marred needs restoration and God’s plan of redemption, first laid out in Genesis 3:15, includes the restoration of that image. Consider these passages relevant the restoration process:
In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph 4:22-24)
Put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (Col 3:10)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; (2 Pet 1:2-5)
The process of renewal is described in different ways in Scripture:
- Establishing a relationship with God by faith (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24);
- letting the transcript of God’s character (his Law) restore us (Deuteronomy 6:6; Psalm 19:7);
- letting the word of Christ dwell in us (Colossians 3:16);
- having Christ live in us (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:20);
- putting on the clothing of Christ’s character (Isaiah 61:10; Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27);
- beholding his character and becoming changed (Hebrews 12:2);
- imitating God’s character in our daily life (Ephesians 5:1).The most direct, general statement about imitating God is in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1; see also Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 4:11)
Restoration is a divine process. Restoration comes as a result of the Holy Spirit changing our own characters modelled after the character of Christ. Truly, this requires the same creative power of that was exhibited at Creation when the earth and all it contains was first made; however, we are also called to be co-workers with God in this process.
What does this mean for the purpose of management? At the bare minimum it means the following:
- Faithful Christian managers who desire to found their work on Scriptural principles will see that the purpose of their work is not merely to help individual workers. It is not merely to help the organization accomplish the organizational goals. While the purpose of managerial work embraces these things, there is a deeper purpose at stake, namely, that the purpose of the manager is to be a leader in co-working with God in the process of restoring His image in humans.
- Restoration of the image of God must be the central, ultimate goal of all managerial work, not merely a side-bar comment. Restoration of the image of God is not something that happens merely in a church pew during corporate worship. It is not something that occurs only during private devotions of prayer and reading the Bible. To be true to the biblical Story, this restoration process must comprehend the daily work of the manager, it frames the larger purpose of managerial work from the biblical perspective.
- Every worker the manager deals with bears the marred image of God. Every worker deserves respect. But the restoration of God’s image goes much deeper than this. The manager has been given responsibility to lead fellow workers in the organization along the pathway toward renewal.
- The focus of this renewal is the character of Christ as expressed in His life and work. The character traits shown by Christ are carried in several grand themes of Scripture (which I will explore in later postings in this series).
- Such a purpose can be embraced by the faithful manager who works within the publically traded for-profit company, the private firm, the non-profit organization and the government organization. Even if the culture of business forbids the manager to speak openly about the Bible or faith in Jesus Christ, the manager can still advocate on behalf of the character of Christ on a daily basis when policies are created, when decisions are made, when actions are taken.
All this suggestions some radical implications for the purpose of business education in the Christian university. Business education is not merely to help students do well in the ETS Major Field Test in Business that many students take during their senior year. It is not about becoming expert in maximizing Net Present Value or strategic thinking for organizational goals. It is not merely about researching and publishing the results of research. Our core purpose as business educators is to lead students to embrace the process of restoration of the image of God in us and in them as together we both prepare to be co-workers with God in the restoration of His image in others in the context of the marketplaces of the world where we serve. Such a task cannot be left to the work of the religion professor, the campus chaplain or the church pastor. Business professors and students alike must participate in this process if the context of business is one of the settings in which God’s character is restored in humans. From the perspective of Scripture this is our highest calling, our deepest purpose for serving at a Christian university.