I’ve been talking to my mate Simon who is an accountant who works for a small business. This is the fruit of our conversation. Accountants can serve God full-time if they have a baptised imagination.
Accountancy has had a bad image ever since the Monty Python sketch with John Cleese and Michael Palin who have a ‘pop’ at accountants… “Dull, dull, dull, dreary, tedious and stuffy”. Is this fair?
Simon has been inspired by the story of Oscar Schindler who ‘fiddled’ the books and saved the lives of 1200 Jews! How did he do this? Old people were recorded as being twenty years younger; children were listed as adults. Lawyers, doctors, and engineers were registered as metalworkers, mechanics, and draughtsmen–all trades considered essential to war production. We’re talking imaginative and life-saving book-keeping!
Simon understands his work in terms of the cultural mandate. How can we unfold and serve creation as accountants? For Simon the accountant has a unique perspective on the company. Accountants go into all the departments making suggestions and recommendations. Simon wants to challenge the idea that all that matters is the profit factor. He is profit sensitive without being profit driven. He says that you have to make profit but not with tunnel vision. He wants to resist what he calls a ‘cynical mindset’ – Accountancy isn’t just number crunching!
He describes putting together a report for the CEO. This isn’t just reeling off facts and figures but infusing the report with local colour and human drama. A richer picture of the world than the kind of (Little Britain) person who says unthinkingly – ‘Computer says No’. He says that the accountant feels the pulse of the business and he/she can make positive suggestions which can steer the company in good, wise and responsible directions. For example showing love to the cleaners. Maybe going in to bat for them re pay and conditions. You might get knocked down but you have planted an idea in someone’s head. He was also asked to manage a young autistic man. This requires a great deal of sensitivity and thoughtfulness. So the accountant has to be able to teach others effectively (many callings). He would very much like businesses to employ more autistic and disabled people. They can contribute some amazing things to a company. If you have a ‘baptised imagination’ accountants can do amazing things for God’s kingdom!