Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: "Doing God's Business"

TITLE: DOING GOD's BUSINESS - Meaning and Motivation in the Workplace
AUTHOR: R. Paul Stevens
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.

Doing God's Business: Meaning and Motivation for the MarketplaceThis is a book that deals more with the meaning and motivation of work, rather than method. The premise that if we understand the ‘why’ we will naturally find ways to learn the ‘how.’ Meaning is grounded in theology. By this, it means the core foundations of business to be seen as a calling, ministry, community building, mission and globalization. Motivation explores a marketplace spirituality that search for wholeness, inspiration and integration that empower us to give one’s best.

The author weaves in a lot of material into this book. Using his experience as a businessman, a clergy, as well as well-read educator, Stevens shares his perspective of work as "God's Business." The book attempts to do 6 things:

  1. It provides a theological framework for marketplace activity;
  2. It highlights the importance of understanding corporate culture, and how to cultivate it;
  3. It explains how faith is linked to vocation, work, and ministry toward meaningfulness;
  4. It says that spirituality is not about cranking up motivation for tired workers, but is in itself a source of creativity and entrepreneurship;
  5. It helps us to deal with awkward ethical dilemmas;
  6. It suggests a plan to practice contemplation amid a demanding environment.
Part One of the Book deals with MEANING, which calls readers toward developing and cultivating a marketplace theology. Whether it is a for-profit business, or a non-profit ministry, the meaning is understood in terms of calling, not career. Part Two deals with MOTIVATION. Here, Stevens provides lots of examples and illustrations that spirituality rightly understood and practiced, is by itself a source of integrity, creativity, and holy. 

I like this book because of the simplicity of meaning and motivation. Both are important. Both inform each other. Both points to the essence of marketplace theology and practice. Having said that, I find that the book does not have a lot of new ideas from Stevens' previous books on marketplace theology. At times, some of the ideas appear to be 'forced-in' rather than 'eased-out.' For instance, we have local matters as well as globalization. We have ancient spirituality as well as modern technology. This is one of the downsides of encapsulating too many different topics in one word: "Marketplace."

For that, to be fair to Stevens, 'marketplace' can mean so many things to so many people. Perhaps, the topic in itself is too multifaceted for developing any single idea. 

I still recommend this book for your benefit as it is still a well-written book. 


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