What Is The Quadruple Bottom Line?
Management guru, Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of business is to make money.” Clear. True. Factual. And, incomplete. There is no one bottom line. There are, in fact, four!
- Financial Profit
- Social Profit
- Environmental Profit
- Spiritual Profit
These benefits of business are based originally on the Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:26-31). It was essentially the command to use what God had given to benefit self and others in every way possible. It’s another way of looking at the “blessed to be a blessing” principle seen in Genesis 12:1-3. The short version is that business is meant to bless people. Let’s look at each dimension.
A healthy business makes money. No money, no business. No business, no blessing. I sometimes hear people “rage against the machine” and the profiteering of business leaders. Yet, a business must make money in order to survive, grow, and bless people. As to what constitutes a healthy versus greedy level of profit, well, I will leave that for another day.
Social or Societal Profit
When coaching executives, I often ask them this question: how is the world a better place because your company exists? Another way of thinking about this is to consider if anybody would notice if your company ceased to exist and if they did notice, would they care. Business as a source of blessing is meant to bring visible value to the community in which it exists. This can take the form of jobs, alternatives to crime, helping education, funding charities, and producing goods and services that make a difference. This may be harder to measure than financial profits but it’s still vital.
Businesses (and people in general) have done a pretty lousy job of stewarding the creation that God gave us to enjoy and manage. It’s not going to fix itself and, since this is our only home, it makes sense to ask what your company can do to make things better. The “Three R’s” help here. Reduce consumption. Reuse materials. Recycle waste. But there has to be more. The Three R’s may slow down the destruction. Let’s add a “Fourth R” for Remediate the Environment. Clean it up. Make it better.
For all the blessing the first three types of profit bring, there are also eternal matters at hand. The spread of the Gospel and the discipling of those who believe in the Savior is paramount. So is reclaiming lives from sex trades, drug addiction, abuse, and human trafficking. The Kingdom of God is certainly about seeing souls come to Jesus but it is much more than only that. The entirety of society and creation is to be redeemed!
This short article only scratches the surface of the Quadruple Bottom line. There is much written on this and I would refer the reader to the Lausanne Statement on Business as Mission for more details. Just remember. Business is a good thing from God and intended for blessing. It is neither inherently corrupt nor evil. It came from God and pleases Him.
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