luke on management a 1 st century analysis for a 21 st century audience n.
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  1. LUKE ON MANAGEMENT:A 1ST CENTURY ANALYSIS FOR A 21ST CENTURY AUDIENCE* Bruno Dyck Thursday, June 30, 2011 CBFA Conference – Mt. Vernon, Ohio *This research has been funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 1

  2. Overview of Presentation • 1. Proposing an alternative to the status quo How a 1st century understanding of management “lens” leads to alternative interpretations of key Lukan mgt passages • 2. Testing the new alternative in practice A comprehensive analysis of Luke through the lens of a 1st century understanding of management • 3. A new way of seeing Examining other key themes in Luke and noting their implications for management (KOG, salvation, Holy Spirit) • 4. Re-inventing social institutions Developing hallmarks of organizational systems and structure that are consistent with Luke on management • Implications/Discussion

  3. 1. Proposing an alternative to status quo Thanks to Max Weber, many people consider modern management theory to be based on a Judeo-Christian (Protestant) ethic. However, Weber and others have suggested that reading the biblical narrative via a 1st century lens may give rise to a very different approach to management. This section will briefly describe how management was understood in 1st century Palestine, and then use this to interpret two Lukan passages that are particularly relevant for management: 1. Parable of the Shrewd Manager 2. Parable of the Ten Pounds (cf Parable of Talents, Matt)

  4. Two key dimensions of mgmt in 1st century 1. Managing the oikos(=‘household’) (>100 allusions in Luke) - oikos > family (no word for ‘family’); incl. slaves - oikos= goods & services producing orgs of time - oikonomia = household mgt (economics) - but today economics = “unnatural chrematistics” - Aristotle warned against “acquisitive economics” 2. Managing patron-client relationships (>200 allusions in Luke) - patron-client relationships were the “glue” that held the different households (oikos) together - it was the duty of patrons to keep clients indebted - mgt important in patron-client interface

  5. Context of Mgmt in 1st century • Increasing taxation increasing oppression and land fore-closures among poor  increasing size of estates and increasing number of absentee landlords  increasing numbers of ‘non-owner’ mgrs (8% of population) • Increasing emphasis among both the Roman and Jewish elite on conspicuous consumption (trade) and ‘acquisitive economics’ (using money to make money); this became agenda of managers (‘beneath’ owners) • In 1st-century the economy was thought to be zero-sum (e.g., no thought of ‘growing’ an economy, so to get richer someone else needed to get poorer – 10% of population dispossessed “outcasts” who did not belong to an oikosnor enjoy its security)

  6. Using a 1st century mgmt lens to interpret the Parable of Shrewd Manager(Lk 16: 1-8) • Despite this parable having 5 of the 8 mentions of “manager” in all 4 gospels, it is virtually ignored (e.g., never cited among 1500 passages in 1st decade of JBIB) • This parable rarely cited in literature because it seems to undermine 21st century mgt norms when it commends a manager who unilaterally scatters (wastes?) his rich employer’s financial resources • Of course, for Jesus’ listeners in the 1stcentury this praise is entirely understandable -- the parable simply teaches that managers should play a positive role in decreasing the gap between rich and poor.

  7. Using a 1st century mgmt lens to interpret the Parable of the Ten Pounds(Lk19:11-27; cf Matt) • This parable has become a poster-child of the literature integrating Bible and management. • A typical contemporary interpretation suggests that managers who multiply their master’s (presumed to be God) wealth are praiseworthy, and that managers who fail to do so are to be punished. • In contrast, a 1st century interpretation suggests that the master in the parable is an exploitive boss who reaps where he does not sow (i.e., he is not God) who rewards managers for widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The real “hero” in the parable is the manager who refuses to be bullied into doing so.

  8. Implications thus far • These alternative 1st century interpretations of the parables do not seem to be consistent with approach to management associated with Weber’s understanding of the Protestant ethic • In particular, this ‘1st century interpretation’ of these 2 parables suggests managers are NOT called to maximize their employer’s financial resources, but rather to use them shrewdly in ways that benefit the larger community (e.g., serve the poor) • Put differently, if these alternative interpretations are correct, they would give rise to an approach to management very different from the status quo. • However, before we begin to develop this alternative approach to management, it is worth examining what the rest of Gospel says about management using our 1st century lens (i.e., are these alternative interpretations consistent with the rest of Luke?) • This is the task to which we now turn

  9. 2. Testing the new alternative in practice: A comprehensive analysis of Luke through the lens of a 1st century understanding of management This section looks at all passages in Luke that refer to: A) the four 1st century dimensions of oikonomia, and B) patron-client relationships A. A closer look at passages about managing the oikos Ever since Aristotle, ancient authors have agreed that there are four components to oikonomia: i) husband-wife relations ii) parent-child relations iii) master-slave relations iv) money management (chrematistics)

  10. i) Luke on husband-wife relationships Luke mentions only 4 married couples by name, and in each the wife seems to enjoy particular influence: - Mary and Joseph (Jesus’ parents), where Mary gets more attention from God and angels than Joseph; - Elisabeth and Zechariah (John the Baptist parents) where Elisabeth names John (after Zechariah loses his voice); - Herodias and Philip, where Herodias asks for John’s death; - Joanna and Chuza, where Joanna is Jesus’ follower. In addition, Luke mentions 7 widows, who are always portrayed in positive light. Implications for management: In stark contrast to 1st century norms, Luke emphasizes that women are not in any way subordinate or subservient to men: they are equals.

  11. ii) Luke on parent-child relationships • Luke makes 188 references to parent-child pronouns, and has 9 passages that describe on-going relationship between a parent and a (non-infant) child. Most passages challenge traditional oikos: • “From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53) • “Whoever comes to me and does not hate [that is, disavows their primary allegiances to their]father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26 • Implications for mgmt: In stark contrast to 1st century norms (esp. Roman norms), members of households are encouraged to dismantle their traditional oikosrelationships in order to develop more inclusive (alternative) org structures & systems.

  12. iii) Luke on master-slave relationships About a dozen passages in Luke refer to slaves, where they are regularly described in positive ways (e.g., Jesus’ mother describes herself as a favourably-looked-upon slave of God, as does Simeon; Jesus heals the centurion’s slave, a master returns from a wedding banquet and becomes like a slave as he serves his household slaves, Jesus himself models this when he washes his disciples feet). In one passage Jesus likens his disciples to slaves who embrace “sustenance economics” and shun “acquisitive economics” (Lk 17:7-10). Implications for management. In contrast to 1st century norms, in Luke slaves are fully moral beings and are presented as a model of ‘servant leadership.’

  13. iv) Luke on managing finances (chrematistics) Luke has 18 passages that make reference to money: • in the 9 passages that do not use the word “rich,” money is presented as a normal part of everyday life (e.g., the Samaritan pays innkeeper, women provide resources Jesus). • in the 9 passages do use the word “rich,” the rich are criticized and called to share their wealth with the poor • 1) the Mighty One “sent the rich away empty” (Lk 1:53) • 2) “woe to you who are rich” (Lk 6:24) • 3) “they are choked by their cares and riches” (Lk 8:14) • 4) “Sell your possessions” (Lk 12:33) • 5) “give up all your possessions” (Lk 14:33) • 6) rich man praises shrewd manager for scattering his wealth (Lk 16) • 7) “Sell all that you own” (Lk 18:22) • 8) Zacchaeus gives ½ to poor, repays fraud 4x (Lk 19) • 9) “rich people” give less than widow (Lk 21:1) - Management implications. Money is a normal part of organized life, and managers should seek to reduce gap between rich and poor.

  14. B. Luke on patron-client relationships - 241 verses allude to ‘benefaction’; 4 passages describe patron-client relationships at length (e.g., don’t lord it over others, but rather serve them as a slave) • Taken together, these passages seek to undermine institutions that perpetuate the elite and demean the poor. In particular, Luke opposes actions designed to make recipients subservient to benefactors, and rather Luke promotes acts of genuine benefaction that benefit others. • “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us” (Lk 11:4)

  15. Summary ofcomprehensive analysis ofLuke on oikonomia& patron-client relations Luke often and consistently challenges conventional management thinking from the 1st (and 21st) century: i.Husband-wife: Men and women are equals ii.Parent-child: Reinvent oikos; leave security of childhood oikosin order to start a new more inclusive kind of oikos iii. Master/slave: treat slaves with dignity; slaves as role model (leadership is about serving others, not lording it over them) iv. Money management (chrematistics): decrease gap between rich and poor; reject acquisitive economics (“unnatural chrematistics”); “you cannot serve both God and mammon” v. Patron-client relationships: Benefaction should serve recipients, and not indebt them to benefactors.

  16. 3. A new way of seeing Now that we have tested and found consistent support for the idea that Luke supports an “alternative” approach to mgt, the next step is to examine whether and how this alternative view is integrated with and provides a new way of seeing the larger, more comprehensive message of Luke. We will use this “1st century management lens” to look at 3 key themes that Luke is known for • kingdom of God (KOG), • salvation, and • the Holy Spirit.

  17. a. Kingdom of God (KOG) • Jesus teaches about the KOG more often than any other topic (Luke has 31 mentions, in 21 main passages) • KOG does not refer to geographic place; rather it refers to ‘reign’ of God (in modern terms, ‘mgmt style’ of God) • While today KOG often connotes spiritual after-life, in 1st century KOG language was very here-and-now • E.g., each Roman coin had engraving of Emperor and ‘Son of God’ we are to pray: “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven”). • In 1st century everything was view holistically: people did not differentiate between the religious sphere and the political or oikosspheres of life

  18. Luke’s 21 KOG passages fall into 4 thematic “types” Theme #1: Passages that proclaim core KOG attributes to crowds (4 passages -- implicitly promoting a counter-cultural alternative to 1st-century PaxRomana) Theme #2: Passages that describe how KOG ideas are learned by disciples (5 passages) Theme #3: Passages that describe how KOG ideas are enacted by followers (4 passages) Theme #4: Passages that describe KOG outcomes (8) Note that an oikosis prominent in 10 of the 12 passages where the KOG is enacted or manifest (but only in 2 of 8 passages in first two types). Implications for management: The oikos(and thus mgt) plays a key role in enacting/manifesting KOG.

  19. KOG is counter-cultural (subversive) Only once does Jesus say: ‘The KOG is like … … a mustard seed (a weed) that a gardener took and deliberately sowed in the garden where it grew & became a tree, and the birds of the air made their nests in its branches (creation care lowers productivity of vegetable garden). … yeast (counter-cultural, holy bread is unleavened) that a woman took and mixed in with 3 measures of flour (13.3 litres) until all of it was leavened. (Lk13:18-19) Implications for management: KOG is evident in counter-cultural activities in oikossettings

  20. b. Salvation (before being limited to spiritual realm) NB idea in 1st century (eg Emperor=Savior); had 2 dimensions: -i) Saved from oppressive structures & systems (Jewish emph.) -ii) Bestowal of blessings/life-giving strx & syst (Greco-Roman) Two word forms of salvation in Luke: • 7 of Luke’s 8 references to the noun form of salvation (salvation, savior) occur prior to Jesus’ baptism (Lk 3:21), and in each case it refers to a group of people receiving salvation (e.g., house of David, Gentiles, all people); • All 17 subsequent references use the verb form, usually referring to an individual being saved (e.g., healed, restored to community, saved from oppressive structures)

  21. Jesus only once uses the term ‘salvation’ Luke 19:1-10 describes how Jesus visits the oikosof a rich tax collector named Zacchaeus, who says: “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to Zacchaeus: “Today salvation [noun]has come to this oikos” [Jesus does not use the phrase “your faith has saved you” used 4 times previously] Implications for mgt: In Luke, Jesus saves [verb] individuals from oppressive structures and systems, butsalvation [noun] comes via implementing redemptive/life-giving structures & systems. This clearly places managers in a central role vis a vis salvation!

  22. c. Holy Spirit Luke’s 16 references to Holy Spirit > other 3 gospels combined Holy Spirit not confined to a spiritual realm (very practical) - Holy Spirit is closely linked to salvation and to KOG - HS at core of Jesus’ work (and thus that of his followers): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). - baptism of HS is key part of Jesus’ ministry in Luke/Acts Implication for management: The Holy Spirit is essential to sustained KOG management

  23. Summary, new way of seeing big picture • Rather than see KOG as referring primarily to a heavenly after-life, this analysis of Luke suggests that the KOG is grounded in this world and typically enacted and manifest in an oikossetting (thus very relevant for mgt) • Rather than see salvationas referring primarily to forgiveness of sins for an eternity in heaven, this analysis of Luke suggests that salvation occurs when oppressive structures and systems are replaced with new ‘redeemed’ structures and systems, especially in oikossetting (again pointing to a key role for management) • Rather than limiting the Holy Spirit primarily to a spiritual realm, this analysis suggests that the HS is key in empowering managers to enact KOG and to implement oikosstructures and systems that facilitate salvation

  24. 4. Re-inventing social institutions As we have seen, a 1st-century management lens shows that Luke has a lot to say about management. It turns out Luke also provides advice on how to change social institutions accordingly. Luke points to a key four-phase community discernment process associated with KOG mgmt: 1. Identify issue to address (eg to challenge oppressive activity) 2. Experiment with new way of doing things (emancipation) 3. Develop a new way of seeing the big picture (worldview) 4. Reinvent social institutions (larger-scale) These 4 phases resemble modern triple-loop learning theory, where problems are resolved via changed: (i) actions, (ii) values and (iii) institutions

  25. Hey, I’ve never seen such a 4-phase process explicitly spelled out in Luke! • You’re right, this 4-phase model is not self-evident in a Western linear way of reading the text • but neither is the highly-influential 4-phase ‘Socratic method’ drawn from Socrates’ dialogues, perhaps his most important contribution to philosophy. - Rather, the 4-phase model is embedded in the chiastic structure of Luke’s ‘Journey Narrative’ (from Lk 9:51 to 19:40). This JN is problematic for scholars because they agree (a) it is a single narrative text (describing Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem) but (b) it does not describe a geographic journey, and (c) it defies being interpreted linearly. - Unfortunately we lack time to go into detail on chiasms & the rigor I followed to develop the model (incl. several experiments with 30 readers to confirm various phases)

  26. Journey Narrative (Lk 9:51-19:40) • Contains 80% of Luke’s mentions of words related to mgmt, financial wealth, & social justice. • JN proceeds through the four-phase process model six times (three times forward, three times in reverse). • JN places emphasis on reinventing social institutions (e.g., each passage related to the 4th phase in the model starts with Jesus addressing a member of the social elite/leadership)

  27. Example of how the 4-phase model unfolds CYCLE 1: Managing relationships with outsiders (people from competing oikos) (Lk 9:51-10:37) Phase 1 (issue to address): Hostility toward outsiders (Lk 9: 51-56) - In this passage Jesus points to the problematic nature of the on-going animosity between the Jews and their neighboring Samaritans - When Jesus first sets his face to journey to Jerusalem, messengers whom he had sent to prepare his way are rebuffed by a Samaritan village. James and John ask Jesus if he wants them to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume” the Samaritan village. Jesus rebukes his disciples: this is no way to treat people from another oikos.

  28. Example of 4-phase model, continued Phase 2 (actions to resolve issue): Spend time with outsiders, on their turf (Lk 9:57-10:20) Jesus instructs and sends 70 of his followers in groups of two to visit Samaritan villages, to offer peace to their oikos, to heal the sick and say KOG is near to them Jesus tells the disciples NOT to bring any money, but to have the Samaritans provide lodging and food, thereby ensuring that Jesus followers become as “clients” to their Samaritan hosts/“benefactors” Jesus spends 6 verses describing contingency plans depending on how villagers respond to his followers Upon their return the 70 describe their experiences; the experiment is a big success.

  29. Example of 4-phase model, continued Phase 3 (new way of seeing): Adopt a new worldview (Lk 10:21-24) Experiencing this new way of relating to Samaritans (e.g., accepting their hospitality and promoting peace) illustrates how existing dysfunctional traditions (which might serve the interests of the elite) can be exposed by experiments that defy them, which in turn prompts new ways of seeing the big picture (e.g., Jesus describes how things that had been hidden from the apparent “wise and the intelligent” are revealed to “infants”). Jesus tells his disciples: “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it” (Lk 10: 23-24)

  30. Example of 4-phase model, continued Phase 4 (reinvent institutions): Leaders should show neighborly love = the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 25-37) Jesus explains to a lawyer what loving your neighbor means. In particular Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan: - a man is ambushed and left for dead on the road - a priest arrives, sees him, and walks by on the other side (fear of robbers? fear of impurity according to law?) - ditto a Levite (another social elite, religious leader) - however a Samaritan (a layperson & travelling merchant) arrives, is moved with pity, and cares for the man and brings him to an inn and pays the innkeeper to help The lesson? Overcome negative traditions; transform norms that inhibit helping the needy.

  31. Summary of reinventing social institutions This 4-phase process (which repeats itself 6 times in JN and in Acts) points to the importance in Luke of: 1. Challenging the status quo (especially rebuking members in one’s inner circle); 2. Designing and carrying out “experiments” that offer emancipation from oppressive structures (though these experiments should never be cast in stone, lest they become institutionalized over time); 3. Investing time/effort required recast one’s worldview; 4. Reinventing social institutions: Luke has a deep and abiding interest in reshaping social institutions—oikosand beyond—in a way that is (a) invitational rather than coercive, and (b) tentative rather than permanent.

  32. Summary Luke has much to say about management (e.g., >100 allusions to oikos, >200 to patron-client relations) The approach to management promoted in Luke differs from the dominant views in 1st century Palestine: • According to Luke, oikosstructures & systems should be designed holistically to include marginalized people; they should promote sustenance economics rather than acquisitive economics; • According to Luke, benefaction should serve to help the needy in ways that treat them as moral equals; not in ways that make them indebted (Roman), nor be offered only to socio-economic equals (classic Greek); • The 4-phase process model points to new (emancipatory) institutions, & to avoiding (static) institutionalization.

  33. Implications for 21st century mgt theory/practice 1. What if the primary goal of business mgt was to help the marginalized, rather than to maximize profits? - what if we emphasized the bottom-rung instead of the bottom-line? - does this demand a ‘theological turn’ to makes altruism possible? 2. What if other stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, neighbors, future generations) were treated as equals, rather than as groups to “lord it over”? - eg, what if Porter’s “5 competitive forces” were conceived as “5 levers to foster community” rather than as dimensions where organizations seek to have relative power over others? • What if management theory was more humble, more process-oriented? - eg, what might happen to leadership theory? Decision-making?