When R.G. LeTourneau's missionary sister pushed him to get serious about serving God, he was confused and conflicted. He wrestled with God over the work he loved and what most people believed—that “going all out for God” meant going into fulltime ministry as a preacher, evangelist or missionary.
Around that time, LeTourneau attended a revival meeting at his church and made a commitment to give his life fully to God. Thinking he was headed to the mission field, he sought guidance from his pastor. After they prayed together, his pastor told him, “You know Brother LeTourneau, God needs businessmen as well as preachers and missionaries.” To which LeTourneau responded,
“All right, if that's what God wants me to be, I'll try to be His businessman.”
That began LeTourneau's business partnership with God. He took the idea of being in business with God seriously, although he wrote that he believed God was getting a sorry specimen as a partner. For almost 60 years, he credited God for any success and believed his success made him a debtor to God and his fellow man.
His perspective translated not only into generosity, but also into quality work, bigger and better machines, and a commitment to help his employees flourish spiritually and physically. He hired both Christian and non-Christian workers, and pioneered the concept of hiring full-time workplace chaplains. He developed new products to keep plants open and men employed, and he took personal responsibility for company failures.
LeTourneau’s faith in his Partner also made him a risk-taker, though he was careful not to presume on God’s blessing. He wrote, “When the Lord has a job for you to do, He’ll give you the strength and the ability to do it.”
LeTourneau’s brilliant and practical mind developed a remarkable theology of work. Toward the end of his life he wrote,
“When He created the world and everything in it, He didn’t mean for us to stop there and say, ‘God, you’ve done it all. There’s nothing left for us to build.’ He wanted us to take off from there and really build for His greater glory.”
LeTourneau believed that the ingenuity to do this came from God. “No one has ever measured the inventiveness that Christ awakens in a man’s soul because it is beyond measurement,” he wrote.