The Primary Purpose of Business
What’s the Point of it All?
Most people in our culture—if they are honest—would admit they have no idea why they’re alive; no idea what they’re made for; and no idea what their ultimate purpose is. They’re wandering around on earth for 80-plus years without any real sense of meaning.
In order to distract themselves from this cruel reality, people will often try to make up “little purposes” or meanings for themselves. Perhaps a person will seek to acquire riches or possessions. Or they might pursue fame, or power, or pleasure. They may seek to better themselves, or become the best at something like music, or athletics; or serve others. They may try to find their identity in the love of another person.
But in the end, all of these little purposes do not satisfy or bring any real, ultimate purpose. Like leaky buckets that can’t hold water (Jer. 2.13), all of them disappoint with time. People die. Riches can be lost. Pleasure fades.
King Solomon, facing this depressing truth exclaimed, “All is vanity!” (Eccl. 1.2)
Everything I work for will eventually be brought to nothing!
Business is no different
What is true individually is also true of business. Every business owner at some point must ask himself, “Why does my business exist? What’s the point of all this activity? What am I working toward?” But the same reality faces him again.
Suppose he drafts a mission statement that says, “We want to be the best __________.”
So what? Someone better will eventually come along.
Or suppose he answers, “We want to corner the market.”
So what? Your market may not even exist in 50 years.
Or suppose he decides, “We want to serve our customers.”
So what? Your customers will be dead in 100 years, and you’ll be forgotten.
No business will last forever. Products grow obsolete. Services are rendered and forgotten. Empires rise and fall. Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.
What a depressing outlook! Is there no real meaning or purpose to life or business? Is there nothing beyond mere human experience? In fact, there is.
Life does have deep, ultimate meaning and purpose.
It was given to us by our Maker. God made us (Gen 2.7), and designed us with a purpose. Just like a hammer is designed to drive nails, we were designed for a particular purpose; and fulfillment of that purpose is what brings meaning to our lives.
So what is that primary purpose? What were we made for? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The Bible tells us so:
Bring My sons from far and My daughters from the ends of the earth,
Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory,
~ Isa 43.6–7
“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
~ Psa. 16.11
We were created to give glory to Another, and to receive unending pleasure from Him. Unending pleasure! Does that sound too good to be true? If so, it’s because we’ve abandoned our purpose through abandoning our Maker.
By glorifying the stuff of this world (possessions, ourselves, other people—things that do not last forever), we have set ourselves up to receive only temporary pleasures. Only God is eternal and can provide eternal happiness. By refusing to give glory to Him, we’ve forfeited the unending pleasure part for ourselves.
We were created to give glory to Another, and to receive unending pleasure from Him.
What does it mean to glorify something?
It can mean either making something glorious, or revealing something’s already existent glory. A woman glorifies herself when she does her hair and puts on makeup and jewelry, or wears special clothing. A beautiful painting can be glorified with a frame and good lighting.
We often glorify movies immediately after seeing them: “Did you see that? That was awesome!” On the Fourth of July, we glorify fireworks by saying, “Ooooh,” and, “Aaaaaah!”
In glorifying God, we do not make him glorious, we enthusiastically declare that He is glorious! We show other people how glorious God is, by reflecting His glory through everything we do.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
~ 1Cor. 10.31
Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified.
~ 1Pet. 4.11
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
~ 1Cor. 6.20
How do we glorify God?
We seek to know him and imitate him. God is truthful, so we are to tell the truth. God is loving, so we are to be loving. God is faithful to His people, so we are to be faithful to our spouse.
But even more than that, we are to love Him. We set our affections on Him, and seek Him as our highest pleasure.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
~ Psa. 73.25–26
In short, we obey God and His Word.
Glorifying God in Business
The business owner is commanded to do everything to the glory of God (1Cor 10.31), which obviously includes operating his business. The primary purpose of his business, therefore ought to be “to glorify God.”