Brewers, Bankers, and “Guinnesses for God”

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

When Israel was in exile, God didn’t call them to retreat and seclude themselves in their own Jewish subculture. He called them to “settle down” and “seek the peace and prosperity of the city.”

Paul issues a similar command to us in Galatians 6:10, saying, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Simply seeking to “do good to all people” and “seeking the prosperity” of our communities is good and God-honoring in and of itself. We are called to be good citizens, good neighbors, and good workers who seek the prosperity of the companies we lead and work for. This is a form of ministry and service. It may not be as overt as the ministry of your pastor, but it’s ministry nonetheless, as good work is an act of obedience to God and service to others.

Since Arthur Guinness founded his brewery in 1759, most of his descendants have chosen one of three career paths. There have been the “brewing Guinnesses,” the “banking Guinnesses,” and what some have called the “Guinnesses for God” who have worked as pastors and donor-supported missionaries.

To believe this third group is the only one whose work matters to God would be a terrible mistake. As we’ve seen throughout this series, the work of the Guinnesses who “settled down” in Dublin to seek the prosperity of that and countless other cities have contributed significantly to God’s work in the world.

It’s clear that all three lines of Guinnesses understood this. In the excellent biography from which much of this series was derived, the author says the Guinnesses “understood that brewing could be done as a holy offering, as a craft yielded in the service of God. They did not see themselves as secular, but rather as called. They did not see themselves as apart from Christian ministry, but rather as in the Christian ministry of industry and trade. They did not think of their brewing work as a menial way to pay the bills, hoping that they might compensate for such worldliness by giving occasional service to the church. No, they had absorbed the great Reformation ideal that everything a man did was to be done for God…They understood that this transformed workbenches into altars and the labor of a man’s hands into liturgies pleasing to God.”

The same can be said of you today, believer. Your workbench is an altar. Your desk is a cathedral. Use it to worship today—to “do good to all people” you come in contact with at work, and in doing so, glorify our great God. In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).


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