Finding Your Place in God’s “Garden”

I have worked in the commercial real estate business for over 40 years. I love my work and my industry. I have tried to do business from the vantage point that I am serving under the Heavenly Father’s gaze. Colossians 3:23 has always meant something to me—”Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” This perspective has aided me throughout my career. While I am not always as conscious of the Lord as my “employer” as I desire to be, I really do want Him to be magnified through my business and my company.

Several years ago, I began pursuing a deeper understanding of the theology of Business. I wondered, “Does God have a purpose for Business itself, or only for the people working in it? Over the decades I have had countless conversations with believers in the Marketplace. The vast majority maintain a belief that God’s purpose for their work falls into one of two categories:

  1. Businesses make money so owners and employees can support missions and benevolent causes with those funds.
  2. Businesses serve as a platform from which Christians can live out and share their faith with others.

While I am completely on board with both of these viewpoints, they suggest that God only has a purpose for people in Business. My question still remains: “Does God have a specific vision for Business itself?” I have always found God’s Word to be the most reliable source to consult. Numerous scripture passages address Economics, Ethics, Ambition, Competition, and related practical issues, but as a beginning point, we can turn to the grand narrative of Creation:

  • God values the material world. God created all material things and repeatedly declares that they are good. (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, & 25)
  • God created humans in His image and calls us to manage His Creation. (Genesis 1:26-27) God is a creative Worker and God is a relational Creator! “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’ . . . “ (Genesis 2:2-3). Likewise, we were created to be relational, creative workers and Business requires both qualities.
  • God shared the responsibility of cultivating and expanding His “Garden with His people.“ (Genesis 2:15-19) God intended for Adam and Eve to be His partners, and stewards of all of His resources for human flourishing.

What a great design! The first Garden included practical resources and astounding beauty. Though marred by the Fall, God continues to empower each of us to labor, in community as He continues to redeem and renew it. We can imitate His model for Work through our diligence, collaboration, service, creativity and innovation.

I have come to understand that my particular area of Business actually began when God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear. And God said and it was so” (Genesis 1:9) In my industry we call dry land real estate! My ultimate purpose is to honor and obey God, so my primary aim in Business is to use His land to create places where individuals, organizations and communities can flourish. That’s my little section of God’s “garden.” What is yours?

Serving Him with you in the marketplace,

David Atchison

Heavenly Father, I am blown away this morning! What a thought, that You have entrusted me with work to do, that is an extension of Your original Creation. Land is Your primary resource for the work of my industry. Thank you for the opportunity to manage and cultivate some of Your land. This is my inspiration, today. I will praise Your name today! Amen.

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul . . . Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.” – Poet Alfred Austin