You might be thinking “Theology in Manufacturing”? Where do you find God in manufacturing? For some reason manufacturing lost its identity and image in the hearts and minds of America. Somehow we decided that manufacturing was “yesterday’s jobs” that could be outsourced to other emerging countries who would take these dirty low-wage jobs and manufacturing was not worthy of remaining a part of the esteemed American economy.
Manufacturing is in my DNA. My father worked for the big steel companies and I saw 4″ thick steel cable drag lines that he sold and were used in mining. I heard about the navy ships and aircraft carriers that were built with precision weight steel that he sold to get top performance and speed. I saw video of the launching of underwater structures taller than the empire state building for new oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. During my career I had the privilege to work for manufacturers where we supplied components to OEM companies. I participated first hand in the emergence, growth and eventual transfer of manufacturing to other countries first with Compaq Computer and then with Motorola and Nokia. This was a fantastic time to live and experience the rapid growth and change in manufacturing and participate directly in the great technological advancement that radically changed our lives and culture.
I saw these companies build factories overseas, install the most modern equipment, train these emerging countries how to operate and hand over our manufacturing knowledge and experience. First it was appliances, then computers, cell phones and then automotive. I saw plants close and friends lose jobs or move to start a new life in Mexico or China. I questioned whether I should leave manufacturing and start a new career in the service industry. I tried that for a year as I sought to employ manufacturing techniques and operational metrics to the staffing industry. During this year I had the chance to reflect and consider what I really wanted to do and decided I had to be involved in a career that made something. I convinced myself that manufacturing was a noble career and there were niches that were relationship based, high value, service oriented and could be profitable and sustain growth in the United States.
The remainder of this article is my case for why manufacturing is a noble career and why I have chosen to put my God-given talents, finances, and energy to build a custom plastic injection molding company and why I founded the Gulf Coast Medical Device Manufacturers and Greater Houston Manufacturing Association to advance the image of manufacturing in Houston. “Theology in Manufacturing” may seem a little extreme and is not making manufacturing a religion, but will reveal manufacturing as an honorable career that creates great value and is a worthy endeavor to apply your gifts and talents.
God introduces Himself as a manufacturer
How did God chose to introduce Himself to us? Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God Created”. Choosing to introduce Himself as creator and describing the act of His Creation express the very essence of God and nature of Him. The fact that He “spoke” creation into existence through His Word tell us of the mighty power of His Word. Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the [a]worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
The incredible imagination and beauty of His creation is never ending. The perfect order, balance and physical laws that cause the the universe to work in perfect harmony exhibit his careful planning, architecture and engineering. The power, grandeur and immensity of His creation testify to His awesome power. Psalms 8:1 “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have [a]displayed Your splendor above the heavens!” Clearly the act of creation reflect the almighty glory of our God and He gives high value to creation.
Psalms 8:3-9 “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! 6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. 9 O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
The final record in Gods creation was to create man in His image. Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We are created in the image of God. When we participate in the act of creation we manufacture value and testify to the glory of our God. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Creation and Manufacturing can be a “calling” to bring glory to God through your work. Regardless of the role you play in the manufacturing process you can glorify God in your work. Colossians 3:23-24 “23 Whatever you do, do your work [w]heartily, as for the Lord [x]rather than for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward [y]of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
Manufacturing Expresses the Attributes of God
Manufacturing encompasses the achievement of the entire creation process in human terms. Manufacturing brings out the best attributes that God put in us and give us the privilege to reflect His glory back to Him when we participate in the act of creation. Manufacturing comes to life in the process of working together to create a product.
Imagination – The inspiration and power to dream of a new invention to improve our life or solve a problem. The expanse of the universe, the diversity in the creatures that swim in the waters, fly in the air or crawl on the ground, the uniqueness of each individual testify to the unsearchable imagination of God. He has given some the inspiration and talents to imagine a better world and create products to improve life.
Design and Engineering – Manufacturing includes the process of design and engineering to collect information, brainstorm ideas, modeling, testing, evaluating and improving on the idea. I have lumped both of these disciplines together for simplicity as volumes of books have been written on the worth of these disciplines. God reveals Himself and fills us with His wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to participate in the creative act of design and engineering of products to bless us with enhanced quality of life.
Exodus 35:31-35 31 And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all [a]craftsmanship; 32 [b]to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in [c]bronze, 33 and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. 34 He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with [d]skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in [e]blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.
Planning and Organizing – Efficient manufacturing requires planning your materials, time and resources. It requires ordering these resources in a way to maximize efficiency to eliminate wasted movement and loss of resource. God instructs us commit our work to Him for His glory and if we follow His instruction we will prosper.
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established.”
Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Colossians 3:23-24 “23 Whatever you do, do your work [w]heartily, as for the Lord [x]rather than for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward [y]of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Leadership, Teamwork and Communication – Manufacturing requires Leadership, Teamwork and Communication. Leadership is the ability to influence those around you. Teamwork is the ability to accomplish more through the effort of a group and communication is the vehicle by which you accomplish both. The Bible reveals God’s wisdom to us and provides many illustrations of leadership, teamwork and effective communication with men such as Moses, Joseph and David, but none more that Jesus. No on has influenced the world more through leadership, teamwork and effective communication than Jesus and His disciples continue to this day to carry forward the “good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 . . . there has been born for you a Savior.” No one has modeled leadership, teamwork and communication better than Jesus and if we follow his instruction we will prosper.
Psalms 25:4-5 “Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 – Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.
Deuteronomy 29:9 – “9 So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.”
Problem Solving – Those in manufacturing understand that working through problems is the path to eliminating waste and creating value. We work to find truth as a means to solve these problems. Understanding the issues and finding solutions requires wisdom and is worth pursuing. Often the solution is what creates a competitive advantage and tremendous value to the organization when found. Manufacturing allows us to draw on the wisdom God provides and return glory to him by following His truth.
Proverbs 2:2-4 “Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, [a]Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures”
James 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Management – As leaders we seek God’s wisdom in finding truth and knowing what the right thing to do. As managers we seek to apply discipline in training men to do things in the right way. God’s word provides the wisdom and instruction on how to train and equip us to do this work. The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, blesses us with characteristics to make our efforts effective and reflect God’s love to others. When we reflect God’s wisdom in training men and manage by demonstrating the characteristics of the Holy Spirit we will be much more effective in building a productive team that respect each other and gives glory for their efforts back to God.
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
John 13: 34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness,self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Analysis and Continuous Improvement – In manufacturing we establish a cycle of success by setting goals, measuring our performance, evaluating our progress, and setting new goals. We seek to learn from our mistakes and become better from turning from our old ways and pursuing new goals. I can’t help but see similarities in how the Holy Spirit works in us to recognize our own deficiencies and pursue improvement through the miracle of redemption given as a gift by God Himself and continuous practice to follow the right path by following God’s word.
Psalms 119:66 “Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.”
Psalms 119:9-11 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”
Manufacturing is a noble and honorable profession where we share in the act of creation that creates high value and was uniquely inspired by God Himself. Innovation and manufacturing are at the heart of the success of America and has created enormous advancement of prosperity and wealth for all nations who manufacture. I believe you cannot separate manufacturing from innovation as innovation is birthed by solving problems through employing the processes involved in manufacturing. Manufacturing in America is in a period of renaissance and the image of manufacturing is improving as we recognize the value and importance to our nation. It is good to be a manufacturer and it is a great place to employ the unique gifts given to you by God to use for His glory. Manufacturing requires and exercises the characteristics uniquely created by God in man and gives us the privilege to reflect His glory back to Him through our achievement. I am proud to be a manufacturer and to know my creator better through participating in all of the manufacturing process.