by John Hamon
This article was originally published in PCJH’s Fall 2022 Pinnacle, “Living Our Faith”
A bad boss, underperforming co-workers, mindless tasks, a lack of autonomy, inadequate pay—these might be some reasons why thinking about Monday morning on Sunday night can get our stomachs churning. We spend a lot of time daydreaming about how, and when we’ll stop working, and start doing the things that we really care about. Yet how often do we see people retire, only to find themselves hopelessly bored and restless? “Retirement” is never mentioned in the Bible. That’s because our God is a ceaseless worker; he’s a builder, “sustaining all things by the word of his power.” Genesis describes God’s creation of the cosmos after which he puts the man in the garden “to work it and to care for it.” God gives work not as a punishment, but as a blessing, as an opportunity for us to emulate him in creative, life-giving activity. It was only after their disobedience work was cursed, because that vital connection to our Creator was lost. Scripture teaches that Christ’s work (that word again) on the cross has restored us to God.
If that’s true, if our vital link to God has been reconnected, then shouldn’t that change how we view work? Paul writes to the Colossians: What’s changed, Paul explains, is how we think about our work. Work has been enlarged. It isn’t that we don’t need to please our bosses (we do), nor is it that we don’t need a paycheck (we most certainly do!)— it’s that we have a larger purpose in view. Work’s dignity has been restored as a creative activity in which we work alongside God.
Before starting my company a decade ago, I wrestled with my calling at work. Having become a Christian in middle age, I had already spent my adulthood serving myself. When Christ broke into my life, and radically re-centered me, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of work. I’d pursued financial success single-mindedly. So I associated work with my own selfishness and greed. I struggled to understand how I could redeem work. Maybe the only valuable work was service in the church?
As I spent more time with scripture, I arrived at a more nuanced understanding: because Christ has restored all things to himself, there is no divide between the “worldly” and the “sacred.” All of the world—all of human activity, belongs to him. Everything is sacred. And besides, if everyone were a minister, how would we eat? Where would we sleep? What would we wear? That insight inspired me to take the skills I had honed before Christ—software development and financial services—and to redeem them by building a business that would glorify him by how we do business. I didn’t want to build a Christian-branded company. I had seen many examples of people who “painted the fish” on their business, but who under delivered to their people and their customers. “Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words,” it is a powerful sentiment. People don’t listen to what we say nearly as much as they watch what we do, and how we do it.
At Fortimize, our company vision is “to be wildly successful so that we can be radically generous.” We define success in terms beyond just revenue and profits, because, as a services business, all we have is people. We’re successful when our people are flourishing—and when they’re thriving, our clients are winning. And when our clients are winning, our business is growing. It’s a circle of success that begins and ends with people. How do we live out “radically generous?” Again, it starts with our people. Our Stake in the Outcome program ensures that everybody, from an executive assistant to our president, owns a true stake in the financial success of our business. And, as a team we’re seeking ways to be difference-makers locally and globally. The educational and financial gap between the “haves” and “have nots”, never been greater than today. We’re seeking to close it by providing on-ramps to the digital economy. For example, we’re establishing a new team in Costa Rica. As we launch, we will have workers in Costa Rica leading teammates in North America, and the converse. We’ll be equal teammates who just happen to work in different latitudes.The other day we had our quarterly stakeholder meeting. One of our leaders talked about a development program she’s created to bring new people into our industry. She was encouraging her teammates to become mentors in this new initiative. She choked up as she shared this quote: “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” My heart swelled with gratitude for how God has redeemed our work.
JOHN HAMON is the Founder and CEO of Fortimize, a financial services technology consulting firm. He and his wife Kristi live in South Park, and are grandparents to two, soon to be three, grandsons.