Business as Ministry

August 12th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

The Bible is very clear that the purpose for our work life is to reflect Christ in and through our lives. It is an attitude that says our work is to have an overriding “ministry” objective to it. Our work is our worship to God. These two words even originate from the same Hebrew word, avodah.

Robert Laidlaw was born in Scotland in 1885 but grew up in New Zealand. Born to Christian parents, he committed his life fully to the Lord when he was 17. Laidlaw began working in a hardware merchant company as a traveling sales representative when he was 19. Later he had the idea for a mail-order catalogue business that sold everything imaginable including underwear, groceries, cosmetics, and farm equipment, all at bargain-basement prices. His concept proved successful and his business later merged with the Farmer’s Union Trading Company. He became general manager and held that position for 50 years.

But this is not the most significant thing that can be said about Robert Laidlaw. He understood that his work life was a tool to affect others for Jesus Christ. He began giving ten percent of his income early in his business life. Later, however, he entered this into his journal: “September 1919, age twenty-five. I have decided to change my earlier graduated scale, and start now giving half (fifty percent) of all my earnings.” This he continued for the next 60 years. [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 351.]

The result of that commitment was countless numbers affected for Jesus Christ through the resources he gave to mission groups and other worthy Christian causes. He was personally involved in ministry. He wrote a small book that gave a thoughtful answer to basic questions about life and faith. It was titled “The Reason Why.” Many hundreds of thousands came to faith in Christ because of this 46-page booklet. He publicly spoke to many of his faith in Christ and became very involved in the Soldier’s and Airmen’s Association when World War II broke out. Robert Laidlaw understood what it meant to view business with an overriding ministry objective.

Does the Lord have complete control of your life? If so, you will be able to see your work life as an extension of His life in you. Let the Lord live in and through your work life today.

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