When I was in seminary, I learned about Arthur Guinness’s Christian faith and its impact on his chosen profession: brewing beer. Beer in general served an important purpose in his day, namely providing something safe for people to drink (they didn’t understand how water contaminated with microorganisms made people sick). Guinness also made it harder for people to get drunk than some of the other alcoholic drinks, such as gin, since it was so filling.
Guinness personally used his fortune to impact the world around him: creating Sunday schools, giving vast amounts to the poor, and serving as a board member in a hospital for underprivileged people. As the company grew, it also treated its employees far better than other brewers did by paying higher wages. In the strangest of places, Guinness lived out the Biblical command to love your neighbor as yourself. He was able to take the least sacred of industries and make it into a ministry.
It’s all too easy to assume that leaving ministry to the “professionals” is the best course of action; after all, clergy are trained to answer difficult questions and pray for people. The truth is, most ministers work alongside church people most of the time. They don’t typically have coworkers unsure of who Jesus is. They don’t have the benefit of working in a mission field to live out their faith. They also don’t typically amass fortunes through their work with which to bless those in need around them.
When I hear Guinness’s story and look at his legacy, I see just how much influence any one of us can have when we commit to serving Jesus through whatever vocation we have. Even in our day, there are companies founded and led by Christians that are known for treating their employees and customers well (e.g. In-and-Out). God uses willing servants in the unlikeliest of places for his glory. What if each of us is called to be a Christian in whatever we do? How would it look to be a Christian doctor, lawyer, admin, stay-at-home mom, teacher, hairstylist, police officer, cashier, any other job you might have? How can we honor God in our “un-Christian” work?
May each of us take seriously our faith as we live out our vocations. When we have opportunities to bless those around us, may we jump at the chance. When we have an abundance from our work, may we live with open-handed generosity. When we have the chance to speak words of truth, may we do so with boldness and love. May we raise a pint this St. Patrick’s Day (if that’s your thing) in honor of Arthur Guinness’s ministry of beer and allow his legacy to inspire us to good works in our own industries.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24