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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Good business ethics

Yesterday we looked at the first half of this psalm - the idea of being blessed not in our doing, but in our "being".  Being a child of Christ means we don't find our blessing in what it is we actually can check off our list at the end of the day, but in the nearness we created to Jesus and others we are in relationship with.  As we examine the remainder of this psalm, we find some sage counsel for men and women in the business world.  I am always enthralled when I meet someone who has made a solid reputation for themselves in the community they serve through their business, especially when I see how well they have prospered without making compromises in their principles or in their practices. I will gravitate toward their businesses if I need their services just for this reason. On the other hand, those who have done a less than stellar job of maintaining solid business ethics are not even on my list of consideration!  Why? Kindness, generosity, and a sense of fairness is what we are looking for when we seek a service or repair for our homes, cars, or those things we must maintain over the years.  We want to know the business maintains a sense of integrity - manifest through very evident actions.

It is good for people to be kind and generous and to be fair in business. Such good people will never fall. They will always be remembered. They will not be afraid of bad news. They are confident because they trust in the Lord. They remain confident and without fear, so they defeat their enemies. They freely give to the poor. Their goodness will continue forever. They will be honored with victory. (Psalm 112:5-9 ERV)

It may be harder to do business in an ethical manner when we are in a very competitive environment for the same customers.  It may cost us a little more to do things the right way the first time, but our customers are happy and they refer other customers.  I know I have referred many a person to the mechanics my daughter uses for her car repairs because those brothers do business in a tremendously ethical manner.  I don't know if they are Christians, but I see them go the extra mile, give excellence in service, and they aren't telling the kids they need something they don't need.  Go to a local "big chain" mechanic with three boys in their logo and you will encounter the hard sell of their "service".  I don't frequent those places anymore because I have learned the hard way that the "hard sell" is really not giving me what I need, but only what their "commission" needs!

Kindness, generosity, and fairness are hallmarks of a great business ethic.  If we look at what scripture says, they may not have the biggest bottom line on the stock exchange or even be publicly-traded for that matter, but they are "solid" in their reputation and outcomes.  Bad news doesn't escape one doing business this way, but there is no fear of the outcome because the one doing business as a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows who is ultimately in control!  Another hallmark of the "solid business" is that of giving to those less fortunate than they are.  I have seen this on occasion, in the form of giving back when someone was not really able to afford the entirety of their repair bill.  In other words, they did a little extra (out of their pocket) in order to accomplish what the individual needed who was unable to afford it.  It wasn't because they would receive notoriety or be featured on the evening news as a "good deed" business, but because they know the value of each life they serve.

It may not surprise you to know businesses write mottos, mission statements, and the like.  In fact, I work for a company with a mission statement which is pretty "catchy", but do I always see it manifest in the actions of those who work within that business? It is a large corporation, so trust me, not everyone will quite perform at that desired level, but we hire them believing they have the capacity to reach that level.  It doesn't lower the standards we have set when someone doesn't perform at that level, it just means they weren't a right fit for our business.  In those cases where the "fit" isn't appropriate, the relationship isn't maintained very long.  Why?  We want to exhibit the commitment we made to our customers when we formed that mission statement and core behavior standards.  

Dealing with individuals in business is hard work.  If you have your own business and can be the sole proprietor of the business, working alone providing whatever service you provide, you are responsible for your actions alone.  Hiring a workforce makes you responsible for those who represent your business in the community you serve.  Remembering to not compromise the principles you know to be true, ethical, and biblically "solid" is hard work, but it is the means by which business men and women realize their greatest reward - a solid reputation.  Just sayin!