On the first weekend of April, 252 students and business leaders from around the country gathered in New York City to learn about good business practices and following Jesus, and how to connect the two.
It may seem an unusual connection but it’s not. “Most of Jesus’ miracles occurred in the marketplace, so the marketplace is a valid mission field,” said Henry Kaestner, a successful entrepreneur who was one of the main speakers for the weekend. As former InterVarsity Vice President Pete Hammond used to point out, most of the people God used in the Bible were not professional clergy.
This was the 12th annual Believers in Business conference. Planned by MBA students who are involved with InterVarsity’s MBA Ministry, the goal is for them and their peers to learn from more experienced business leaders who apply their Christian beliefs to their business practices.
Henry was a co-founder of Bandwidth.com, a communications technology company. He left the company to get involved in philanthropy but then felt called to return to the business world. Now he mentors entrepreneurs whose projects have a connection to their Christian faith.
During the conference Henry used stories from his own experience to encourage students to be faithful business leaders. “You’re being commissioned to be able to do God’s work in his marketplace,” he told attendees. “Lord willing, you’ll be a part of the cultural transformation that’s bringing about God’s kingdom.”
David Kim, the Pastor of Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and Executive Director of the Center for Faith & Work (CFW), spoke about the importance of understanding the work of the Holy Spirit in business. He mentioned three ways the Spirit is at work:
- The Spirit leads us
- The Spirit brings upon us resurrection power
- The Spirit raises glorious community
“It’s not that we expect too much from work, but that we expect way too little,” David said. “The deepest problem is the lack of imagination or vision for seeing God at work in our company. The Spirit of God is as present in Google as he is in your church.”
The leading of the Holy Spirit does not necessarily make the job easier though. “Oftentimes the very reason you want to quit your job is the very reason God has sent you there,” David observed.
In addition to Henry and David, the business mentors participating in the Believers in Business Conference included the Dean of Pepperdine University's MBA program, the head of Women in Technology at GE, and leaders from finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, and management fields. Students appreciated the opportunity to hear from business leaders who had not only a depth of experience but also a faith perspective.
In comments afterward, one student said, “The conference gave me more clarity for my calling to missions in business.” Another commented, “The conference allowed me to rededicate myself to following God's plans for my life. I am at a position where I will be making important decisions about my life and career. This conference reset me on the path of obedience and faithfulness.”
The significance of the workplace focus was summarized by David: “Work is the primary crucible where God sanctifies you, where he makes you more like Christ, where he makes you more of a disciple.”