David and Merle Stoltzfus take Psalm 127 very personally as residential developers in eastern Pennsylvania.
Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
But they don't just build structures, they build communities. Because they believe that God is in their work, the Stoltzfus brothers take Jesus' command to love our neighbor seriously. They don't build homes outside a short radius from where they live, and it's not for convenience sake. They want to be accountable to the families who buy homes in the six communities they've developed as a witness to their commitment to follow Christ.
Being good neighbors also involves creating aesthetic beauty in the homes they build. Their latest community is Olde Bulltown Village, a development of 36 home sites with custom homes featuring 18th century architecture. Just 30 miles from Valley Forge, you'll think you have stepped back in time to the American Revolution as you drive through this unique development in the Pennsylvania hills. They describe Olde Bulltown like this: "Old meets new as the best modern conveniences combine with a Williamsburg-style aesthetic to achieve a perfect harmony of beauty and functionality."
The Stoltzfus brothers are following their father's vision of "growing houses" instead of growing chickens on their rocky family farm. Watch their story and then think about how their view of work and business challenges and inspires you.
Merle says the only place they build is near their home in Elverson, Pennsylvania. What kind of challenges would that present to the average builder? What kind of opportunities? What differences would it make to you to think of your customers, clients, or co-workers as your neighbors?
Given that not everyone is easy to be a neighbor to, what does this say about the challenge and importance of relationships with others at work, both practically and spiritually?
Merle says that the Bible is his owner's manual. Why does he think this is important? Is it important for you? Why?
The Stoltzfus' think of business as a calling just like church ministry. How did they come to this conclusion? Do you see your work as a calling like that of your pastor?
David says that God brings creativity to him as he seeks to do his work for God's glory. What motivation does Colossians 3:22-4:1 stir in you?
The downturn in 2008 had a significant impact on their business. How did their commitment to Christ influence their decisions during that time? If they had chosen profit over promises to their neighbors, how would that have affected their ability to "grow people" for Christ?
Merle said, "It doesn't matter if you are a pastor or if you are a developer or if you are a missionary. God gives joy, and He gives eternal significance in what we are doing when we understand that we are His." Is that your experience? How would knowing that God cares about your work bring joy to your work?
Personalize Psalm 127 to your work: "Unless the Lord [fill in what you do] I labor in vain." What difference would it make to your work to know that God is present and at work for you and through you?