This article comes from Dr. Elijah Morgan in his book "The Economic Pendulum."
THE CENTRAL ELEMENT TO A STRONG ECONOMY
It is time—indeed, it is past time—for us to rediscover the importance of the household as the central element for the health and success of both the economy and the church and to restore it to its rightful and indispensable place. The evidence of history leaves little doubt as to the critical importance of small businesses to the health and vitality of a nation’s economy, at least in countries where the economy is essentially decentralized and free-market forces are allowed to operate with minimal governmental restriction and regulation.
In the United States, for example, over 25 million small businesses employ over half of the private workforce in the nation, create 70% or more of all new jobs, 40% of new high-tech jobs, and account for over half of private gross domestic product annually. Over 50% of all new technologies and innovations come from small businesses. Not only do small businesses create the vast majority of new jobs, but they are also the gateway through which most people begin their working careers. Small businesses are the primary providers of opportunities for women and minorities to achieve financial success and independence. In the United States today, over half of all adults either are self-employed or work for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
A healthy economy depends on the presence of healthy, vital small businesses. When small businesses suffer, the economy suffers.
According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA), a small business is one that is independently owned and operated, exerts little influence in its industry, and employs fewer than 500 people. Large businesses, while presenting a significant competitive challenge to small businesses, especially those in the same or similar industry, are at the same time dependent on small businesses for a number of things. For one example, small businesses supply components needed by large companies, such as the manufacture of automobile parts used by the “Big 3”automakers: Ford, Chrysler, and GM. Many large companies choose to outsource certain business or administrative functions to small businesses, such as billing, advertising and marketing, payroll and accounting, bookkeeping, administration of health care benefits, etc. While a small business may exert little influence in its industry compared to large businesses in the same industry, at least in individual economic and monetary terms, its social, cultural, and even moral impact in its community and business sphere of influence can be very great indeed.
FAMILY VALUES THAT BECOME BUSINESS VALUES
One reason for this is that most small businesses are also family-owned businesses that operate according to the same principles and values of the families that own them. Many of these enterprises have been in business for decades, their success and longevity due to the effective transmission and perpetuation of these family values from one generation to the next. The positive impact of family values on small businesses and their communities is so marked that studies have been undertaken to identify these values, measure the extent of their influence, and explain the reasons for their effectiveness. One such study, conducted as a research project through the IESE Business School of the University of Navarra, examined the longevity of Spanish family-owned businesses. Their research identified 14 key values that drove the success and longevity of these firms—and which undoubtedly also reflect the values of family-owned businesses anywhere in the world: respect, quality, excellence, entrepreneurship, humility, hard work, reputation, stewardship, social responsibility, accountability, prudence, loyalty, honesty, and profitability. In fact, these findings were compared with findings from earlier studies that looked at family-owned businesses in France, Italy, and Finland, to provide a true cross-cultural analysis. One reason this was done was to prevent cultural bias from skewing the results. Identified values from all of these studies were compared, and although the lists naturally varied somewhat in the specific values cited, allowing for different terms that define similar concepts and other terms that bear close relationship with each other, the lists were remarkably similar.
The three values that emerged as most important for the longevity of these family-owned businesses were quality, honesty, and hard work.
REFORMING A GLOBAL ECONOMY
These values, which are recognized factors in the long term success and viability of small family-owned businesses (households), are the same values one would expect to find in ancient Israel under the full operation of the sabbatical, Jubilee, and other domestic provisions codified in the Mosaic Law: a nation of entrepreneurs (self-employed) working their own land or business (private property), prospering through honesty, excellence, quality, and hard work, always laying the foundation for the success of the next generation through accountability (to God and each other), social responsibility (care for the poor) and good stewardship (before God) of their land or other resources.
Could it be that one reason the economies of the West lost their way is because the Church of Jesus Christ lost its way? Is our current abandonment of economic focus on the “households”of small family owned businesses in favor of centralized government control a reflection of the church’s abandonment of its original identity as a family household of faith in favor of the hierarchical institutionalization that came into its own at the time of Constantine? The best hope for reforming the global economic system to focus on households and on social and economic justice for all is for the church to recapture and re-embrace the family/ household mindset and structure it had at the beginning; a mindset where believers saw themselves—and lived accordingly—as a community of faith and the family of God.