Profit or Prophet: How Business Students Can Be a Light in the Overlap of Faith and the Firm

Nicolle Katz | Crown Staff

Who are we?

We are The Harvey Specters of this school. Truth be told, we like to flaunt our assets. We're the ones headed to class dressed to the nines, coffee mugs in hand, and yes we'll take a refill – even after 4 PM. If you search for us, you will usually find us huddled around the front library tables by day and attending 1 (or 2 ... or 3) evening classes by night. We speak in revenues and dollar figures, often expressing ourselves in a good spreadsheet or a very tasteful graph. We are the Redeemer Biz Kids.

There is nothing simple about being a Christian in the secular business environment. For students, the path beyond graduation seems ominous, as the business world is portrayed as cutthroat and hostile, with constant deadlines to be met, figures to be reported and promotions to be achieved. Consumerism is glorified and profit is god. Christians find themselves in ethically compromising circumstances where they are faced with morally testing questions: Should I throw my co-workers under the bus to get ahead? Should I manipulate this information? Should I stay quiet even though I know this is wrong? But despite these challenges, Redeemer’s business students intend to use ethics to glorify God through their careers and be a light to the confusing overlap of business and faith.

 To 4th year Patricia Verbeek, being a Christian in business means “knowing when to not fall into society’s pressures in business – not just going along with what the competition and other high heads are doing.”

 “Being a Christian is my first and foremost profession; what I do to earn money will facilitate that calling” explains Jackie Hurst, a 4th year management student. Jackie is one of many students who believe that being in business is a vocation.

 Jackie reflects on the importance of honesty at the workplace. “Management doesn’t blink at white lies or conflicts of interest – that’s the environment. But you, as a Christian, just can’t compromise.”

 Personally, I’ve often been asked why I left Ryerson, forfeiting a Bachelor of Commerce degree to seek out a Bachelor of Arts in Business at a small community-centered school in the mountains. But, as I tell numerous of individuals, the switch was more than worthwhile. I have been so encouraged by the many formative discussions I have had with professors and peers who have been similarly challenged by being an image bearer of Christ through their work. Many of my colleagues have experienced the value of the Christian business community at Redeemer.

 4th year Jessica Prins reveals the benefit of having Christian business peers: “At Redeemer, I am surrounded by people that have the same ideas as I do. I don’t feel out of place when I want to do the right thing. The ultimate goal for us business students is that we want to be lights in the business world even though it is not a typically Christian environment. Even when I graduate, I am glad to have the support of others who feel the same as me.” 

 The students also explained that the business professors at Redeemer have had a hand in inspiring and shaping the businessperson of faith they aspire to be. For this, Jackie said, “I'm not too sure what God wants me to do exactly, but it's great to be encouraged by Professor Busuttil who also believes that God has a plan for me and it's okay not to know right now.

So, what is faith in the firm? It’s integrity, honesty, bravery, prayer, and mission in the workplace; it means staying humble and being an example for those we work with and those we work for. It is being a steward over the resources we manage. It means having a servant heart and being diligent in our activities. Ultimately, it is a calling to advance the Kingdom wherever we work, every single day. We are sure that being a Christian in business will bring about many obstacles, but, as my peers will tell you, we are up for the challenge and embrace the opportunity.