The 3 Bottom Lines of Business

For the Christians in business, we should measure our success by three bottom lines: Economic, Social, and Spiritual.

  • Economic. We need to make a profit or we won’t be able to stay in business. Making a profit is expected from God’s point of view. Isaiah 48:17 says, “Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the holy one of Israel, ‘I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.’”
  • The Social bottom line focuses on how we can be a blessing to our community and those around us.
  • Spiritual. This bottom line occurs when we use our business to influence our employees, vendors, customers, and even our competitors for Christ. As author Stanley Tamm said, “My business is my pulpit.”

Pete Ochs is a great example of succeeding in all three bottom lines. He bought a bankrupt manufacturing company in a small, rural Kansas community. His biggest challenge was the small labor force, and he needed workers to be flexible to work from 20 to 40 hours a week. Pete and his team prayed for the Lord to give them creativity, and He did!

Pete asked the warden of a state prison located in this town to allow him to put the manufacturing plant inside the prison. The prisoners were earning 70 cents an hour working, and Pete wanted to pay them $10 an hour. The first $3 would go to the prison to help pay for their room and board, so the taxpayers benefited. The prisoners could spend the other $7 any way they wanted.

Remarkably, most the inmates have sent most of what they earned to their families, so wives and children benefited. The inmates also learn a marketable skill that will help them get a job when they are released from prison, so society wins. Pete and his team have loved and cared for their workers in very tangible ways, such as, holding inspirational meetings twice a month. Four times a year, Pete provides a lunch for the prisoners and their families, he’s started a seminary inside the prison. Many of the inmates have been introduced to Christ.

Oh, and by the way, the company has been profitable because of the flexible work force. The warden is pleased, because if there is a disciplinary problem with an inmate, they are disqualified from working for Pete and earning a good wage. The culture of the entire prison has changed. That’s the triple bottom line in action.

Warmly in Christ,

Howard Dayton

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