Good Work: How Blue Collar Business Can Change Lives, Communities, and the World by David Hataj. Moody Publishers. 256 pages. 2020
The author, David Hataj, is a second-generation owner of Edgerton Gear, Inc., a family business in Wisconsin. Since 1962, the organization has been manufacturing precision custom gears for all sorts of equipment. The author tells us that this book is his attempt to apply some moral, ethical, and spiritual foundations to the workplace in order to make it more fulfilling and having more impact than the plain process of making money. I have read several books about integrating our faith with our work. This is the first I have read that specifically deals with this issue in a blue-collar environment.
In the book, the author tells some of his life story, including that he and his wife believed that God was calling him back to the one place he swore he would never return, back to the family business as a gear maker. He never imagined that the small gear shop was exactly where God wanted him to be for the long haul. He would eventually come to believe that there was nowhere else in the world that he could do such effective “ministry” than in and through this small business.
The author tells us that seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness should or could be the determining factor in how we conduct business. For more than twenty-six years, his quest has been to see what a business would be like if given over to God’s kingdom.
In discussing the culture of Edgerton Gear, the author discusses the “Three-Legged Stool” of business – quality, value, and service – which were his parents core values of the business. Over the years, he has come to think of the company as a congregation. He writes that Jesus is his ultimate role model for conducting business, and that God’s true inner goodness should be reflected through the workplace culture we lead. His motivation for being in business is simply that he is loved by God, and his response is to love others.
I appreciated the organization’s partnership with the local high school to help students find their way in life, in a course called “Craftsman with Character”. The course offers a place for those he refers to as “lost shop kids”, to help find their place in the world.
Among the topics the author addresses are true inner goodness, purpose, relational transactions, business, money/wealth, betrayal, failure, philanthropy, loving your neighbor, the pricing of products, doing what you say you’re going to do, and ministry/serve.
I enjoyed reading this book about how Edgerton Gear, Inc. ministers to their employees, customers, suppliers and community.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- Whatever your role in the workplace, you have a sphere of influence that has more of an impact on those around you than you may realize.
- The word ministry in its simplest form means to serve. We’re all called to serve, to be ministers, no matter what our job or profession is.
- Business is a very important way we fulfill the creation mandate.
- The ability and desire to work is a tremendous gift that should minister to the soul’s need for purpose and relationship.
- Business is God’s instrument to help the world prosper and thrive.
- Our businesses are a reflection and extension of who we are.
- Business is, or at least should be, our attempt to use all the gifts and talents God bestowed on us to contribute to the greater good.
- Money has a tremendous power to entice and corrupt. It must be approached with equal doses of wisdom, discernment, humility, and courage.
- As followers of Jesus, our lives should exude meaning, purpose, goodness, and a commitment to excellence on every level.
- Business, at its most basic level, is a series of relational transactions. My challenge is how to be certain that at least the majority of my relational transactions are successful.
- With every single business I know, without exception that company’s biggest strength or biggest weakness is the relational health of the day-to-day transactions that comprise their business.
- If you want to stand out and have a competitive edge, remember this one simple rule: do what you say you’re going to do.
- I’ve come to the conclusion that a calling is not so much about a specific occupation as it is a posture or response to God summoning us to join Him in His ministry, or service to the world.
- Becoming who God intends us to be is a lifelong process.
- God doesn’t expect us to be superb leaders right out of the gate. We grow into it through successes, failures, and challenges.
- We must be careful in thinking that to minister, in other words to serve, should be left to the religious professionals. The point is we all have a role to play in serving others.