Very good comments on the topic of Christians and business. My talk at the Bible conference was a lot of fun, and hit upon some of the same points you all raised in your comments.
I talked about several major businesses founded by Christians and run according to Christian principles – LeTourneau Technologies, ServiceMaster, Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby. All four are now multi-billion dollar businesses, capable of pumping millions of dollars per year into Christian ministry. What concerns me as I look at these companies is that the youngest of them – Hobby Lobby – was founded in 1972. Thirty-six years ago. I may be missing an example or two, but I can't come up with a single billion dollar company founded by committed Christians in the last 30 years. Which led to the central question of my talk – Where have all the Christians gone?
Another theme raised frequently in your comments was how difficult it is to build a business while raising a family. The two focuses – entrepreneurship and child-raising – don't seem to live well together. So we focus on our families, and the world starts all the new companies that will go on to have huge cultural impact. Hmm.
The Apostle Paul pointed out the difficulty of serving God wholeheartedly while having a family. He even went so far as to suggest that ideally, all Christians workers would choose to remain single as he had. (An idea the church obviously ran with up through the Reformation.)
So here's a radical question: Are we, as Christians in America, focusing too much attention on family and child-rearing as "God's will" for every Christian? Admit it – when we see a single, middle-aged Christian man or woman, we shake our heads and think, "Oh, that's too bad." I'm searching the Bible for the verse that says, "And you shall all get married, have 2.2 children and aspire to an upper-middle class suburban lifestyle, without which you shall never be happy."
But I can't find it.
And when I read single, middle-aged Paul saying, "I wish you could all be like me," I'm thinking maybe there's a reason that verse doesn't exist.
I'm certainly not against "family," being quite attached to my own, but couldn't it be possible that God still calls some of us to devote ourselves completely to his work? Maybe that work is showing God's love to people in distant lands where having a spouse and kids just wouldn't be practical – or safe. Maybe it's about plunging into the world of media or the world of business with complete devotion to God and the needs of others.
I know numerous elderly missionaries who chose to remain single so they could devote themselves fully to the service of God and others. They don't seem even a little bit unhappy about the choice.
It's a highly unconventional thought – certainly in modern, Protestant America. But is it worth considering?
What do you think?