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Unless the LORD builds the house, They labour in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. In vain you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labours; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Psalm 127


GOD Is our CUSTOMER


GOD Is our CUSTOMER MIMILE MUKUNA MAISHA


GOD is our CUSTOMER Copyright © 2013 Mimile Mukuna Maisha

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior written permission of the author.

Printed in South Africa

For information: publications@firstguardltd.co.uk

ISBN: 978-0-620-58579-8


To Jesus Christ, Thank you for being my God. Your Grace is all I have and all I will ever need.

To my children Mia and MaĂŤl, I owe you more than I can ever give you. May I be the blessing you have been to me.


CONTENTS I NTRODUCTION : T HIS

WORLD IS NOT MY HOME

BUSINESS CULTURE THE CONCEPT OF BUSINESS CULTURE TRADITIONAL BUSINESS CULTURES

The Authoritarian Culture The Bureaucratic Culture The Adhocracy Culture The Achievement Culture The Clan Culture The Adaptive Culture LEVELS OF CULTURE

The Deeper Level The Inner Level The Surface Level STRONG VERSUS WEAK CULTURE WHEN CULTURE CHANGE BECOMES NECESSARY HOW TO CHANGE BUSINESS CULTURE

SHAPING THE CHRISTIAN CULTURE IN YOUR BUSINESS IT ALL STARTS WITH THE PURPOSE OF BUSINESS OUR LIFE PURPOSE; THE SOURCE OF A NEW BUSINESS CULTURE

To Give Glory To God To Enjoy God Forever Our Life Purpose Is In Our Interest CHRISTIAN DEEP

B USINESS

CULTURE LEVEL : OUR BELIEFS

THE MIND ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE MIND IN THE NATURAL MAN MIND IN THE CARNAL MAN: DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS THE EFFECTS OF DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS MIND IN THE SPIRITUAL MAN: SINGLE-MINDEDNESS HOW TO BECOME A SPIRITUAL MAN

The Kingdom Of God Being Filled With The Spirit; How And Why Yielding To The Spirit; Key To Spiritual Growth Quench Not The Spirit Live By The Spirit Do Not Grieve The Spirit To Be Restored As A Spiritual Man The False Spiritual Man

I

1 1 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 76 7 7 8 10 13 17 25 15 27 29 31 32 35 36 38 39 42 50 53 58 70 78 82 83 97 100 103


C ONTENTS

CHRISTIAN INNER BUSINESS CULTURE LEVEL : OUR VALUES

INTEGRITY SIMPLICITY THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE DILIGENCE A COMMITMENT TO EMPLOYEES LOVE HUMILITY GOOD MORALITY GENEROSITY FORGIVENESS LABOUR NOT LUXURY WORTHY MOTIVES

121 122 124 125 129 131 132 132 133 134 134 140 141

CHRISTIAN SURFACE BUSINESS CULTURE LEVEL : OUR PRACTICES 143

MISSION STATEMENT SYMBOLS AND SLOGANS DRESS CODE LANGUAGE The Essence Of A “Christian Language” Power Of The Tongue The Dual Power Of The Tongue The Sins Of The Tongue Controlling Our Tongue RITUALS AND CEREMONIES SELECTION Selecting Employees Selecting Partners Selecting Contractors STORIES SOCIALISATION Socialising: Office Parties Keeping The Party under Control Office Partying; When We Are The Host Office Partying; When We Are Hosted Warnings On Socialising In The World But Not Of The World

145 146 146 154 155 158 159 161 169 173 177 178 182 185 187 194 195 198 200 201 203 206

OUR DAILY CONDUCT

215 215 220 223 224 226 229

WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR IN BUSINESS CHRISTIAN BUSINESS ETHICS The Quest For Christian Business Ethics The Command Approach The Consequences Approach The Character Approach


Introduction

THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME Perhaps you are familiar with these lyrics written by Jim Reeves: This world is not my home; I’m just a passing through, My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you. If heaven’s not my home, then Lord, what will I do? The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. It is a comforting song to sing especially when the cares of everyday life threaten to plunge us into the night of the sea. The prospect of heaven is like a light at the end of a tunnel. But are we sincere when we sing this song? For people who “are just passing through,” it seems to me like we are collecting a lot of stuff here. For people whose “treasures are beyond the blue skies,” it appears to me that we are frantically chasing after the riches this world promises. For people who “cannot feel at home in this world anymore,” it looks to me as if we are in deep need of recognition and admiration in this world. Some of us have succeeded to totally forget that we are “just passing through” this world, and others do not know where and how I


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to find the strength and inspiration to continue with the journey. Hence, we are—more actively than accidentally—distracted and influenced by the world we live in. Far too many of us perish in the process As people who are “passing through” this world and whose “treasures are laid up beyond the blue,” we need to have ways of doing business that will keep the “heaven’s door” open for us; ways which cannot divert us from our identity and destiny as God’s children; ways that matters in eternity. We are called not to conform to cultures of this world, but to be transformed into God’s Children by the renewal of our mind, our mind meaning all our frame of reference. In other words, we should ensure that the culture in our businesses, that is, our own beliefs, values, and practices and those of people we employ, conform to our purpose: to glorify God. I recognise that to many Christians, the phrase “to glorify God” is only appropriate in a religious context; it is mostly associated with worship, serving in a Church, charity works, sharing of the Gospel, acting in faith, having a prayerful life, or moral living. When one Christian says to another that he or she has a business, they do not usually get the reaction: “What a wonderful way to glorify God!” But God made us to glorify Him in whatever way we choose and in whatever we do; in the church, in our studies, in our marriages, and … in our businesses. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” ~Colossians 3:23-24 More than fifty years ago, the late management and marketing guru Peter Drucker defined the purpose of business as creating and satisfying a customer. He argued, and I agree, that the customer is what or who keeps a business in existence. Businesses in all stages of their life cycle must create and satisfy customers. A start-up will not

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become a business without creating a customer. Mature, established businesses will cease to exist if they lose their customer. The most successful businesses have made creating and satisfying their customer the highest priority. This is fundamentally true and applies to businesses owned or operated by both non-Christians and Christians. The only but big difference between non-Christian and Christian businessmen or women is the customer they serve and ought to satisfy. Mr Drucker has a good quote relating to this. “Marketing is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.” This quote underpins the old adage “The customer is king” that is rolled around by businesses and consultants the world over. For nonChristian businesspeople, the customer, “their king,” is the physical buyer of products or services their businesses offer. For us, because God is our highest priority, i.e., the One we are purposed to serve and satisfy with all we do, all we have, and all we are, He is our Customer; He is “the King of kings.” He promised to sustain us, that is, “to keep us in existence” when we serve Him. He will never fail us. Businesses, organisations, or individuals who physically pay for our products or services are only instruments or “purchasers” that God uses to reward us for the goods and services offered by our businesses. As our Customer, God will always send to us “purchasers” who cannot affect our morality, peace, and joy. God is our Customer. Therefore, we must be committed to do business “as to the Lord.” If God was physically the only customer our business had, would we still be doing things the same way? If we had an appointment with the Lord, would we arrive on time? How would we dress? Will we tell Him something about our products or service that is not true? Will we go the extra mile to please Him? Will we be worried that He may fail to pay us or that He will go to the competition? What would we want Him to see when He visits our offices or factories? How will we talk

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to Him? How will we treat our suppliers and employees? How will we manage our tax affairs? How will we conduct ourselves at social events? Whom will we recruit as employees to represent us before Him? Will our goal be to make as much money as we could from Him or will it be to first please Him? Now, the question that we face is whether the Bible provides enough guidance that can enable us to successfully operate in the business world by simply abiding by Christian beliefs, values, and practices, that is, by solely keeping the Christian culture in business. If the principles found in the Bible are not sufficiently complex and pertinent to deal with today’s business problems, then the Christian business culture, whatever it stands for and intends, is of no practical value to Christians engaged in business. This issue has many considerations. If the Christian business culture is irrelevant, how can a Christian businessperson operate by it and still survive in the business world? A continuation of this reasoning has led some Christian scholars to argue that Christians should be detached or should remove themselves from the business world—how this would be possible, they do not say—, since being involved in that world causes them either to fail or to sin. An alternative view that is put forth with considerable force in our modern day is that Christians involved in business should maintain Christian ethical standards in their personal lives, but when they enter the marketplace or workplace, they should play by the “rules of the game.” My take and the point of this book is that it is possible to successfully be active in the business world without compromising our identity and our purpose as God’s children. While the Christian business culture can appear to be similar to many management-centred cultures as far as values and practices are concerned, it is fundamentally different regarding its central priority. The traditional business cultures are above all concerned with performance issues such as revenues, profit, and growth. The Christian business culture on the other hand does not have these

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issues as its focus. Its aim is to enable us to bring glory to God so that we can be able to enjoy His glory in our businesses and lives. Of course, a great deal of successfully running a business focuses on maximising profit and revenues, but for us Christians, these objectives are secondary to our primary goal in business which is to glorify God. Our attitude is—or should be—: at the end of the day, I rather lose in business to win God than lose God to win in business. This attitude is not motivated by God’s promises to bless us and to be with us as and when we seek first to serve Him, but is primarily inspired by the fact that glorifying God is our purpose in life of which business is only an aspect. Consider the analogy of blood. Unless blood is running through our bodies, there is no point in talking about our fulfilment; we are dead. Equally, unless our businesses are making money, it is futile to talk about their success; they are bankrupt. Do we get up in the morning to have blood flowing in our bodies? Or we do wake up every day with the intention to seek fulfilment? Blood is vital; it is just not what we live for. Money is important; it is simply not what we work for. We must get our priorities right! The great Catholic saint Ignatius Loyola was eulogised as follows, “The aim of life is not to gain a place in the sun, nor to achieve fame or success, but to lose ourselves in the glory of God.” In a similar vein, Reformer John Calvin wrote, “We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s, let us therefore live for Him and die for Him. We are God’s, let His wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s, let all parts of our life accordingly strive toward Him as our only lawful goal.” The reason you are reading this book is that you are being relentlessly drawn to enjoy God’s love and to have a business life that V


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glorifies Him. It is because you have been dissatisfied by trying to settle in a world in which you do not belong. There is a compulsion in you to find the direction and inspiration to take your business to a different place, a place that will bring you peace, joy, and contentment. If you have read the introduction thus far, it is an indication that this is the place you are longing for, this is the need that cries in you as a Christian businessperson; it is the dream you desire to see materialise in your life. And be assured of this: from now on your mind will turn again and again to God, until one day, whether sooner or later, it will be evident to you that your life in business will only be fulfilling if it is lived for God’s glory and if God’s glory lives in it. I have been involved in business for more than 20 years. I have had reasons to be dissatisfied and demoralised with the way my businesses were going, with my inability to totally trust and honour God, and with the state and trends of the business world; dissatisfied and demoralised to the point of considering the prospect of finding a way out of all my involvement in business. Periods and areas of success and achievements followed by discontentment and disillusionment finally led me to an extended phase of introspection and meditation on business and on my pursuits and conduct in it. In one of the instances, I felt the Lord insisting in my thoughts: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” I must confess that this was a surprising occurrence because up to that time, Scripture had not been for me a regular source of inspiration and guidance, but simply a matter of random studying and reflection. Then, more insights of similar nature unfolded, and I realised that throughout Scripture we are told, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not think yourself wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will VI


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give healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Honour the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so the Lord will fill your barns with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. He who dwells in the shelter of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” ~Proverbs 3:5-12, Psalm 91:1 As passage after passage unfolded in my mind, one of them grew louder and clearer and uttered that if we abide in the Word and let the Word abide in us, we shall bear fruit richly, and that, actually, it is God’s pleasure that we prosper and bear much fruits. There is always the reminder that the price is, “Abide in Me; let Me abide in you. Abide in the Word, and let the Word abide in you. Dwell in God; live and move and have your being in God. Seek Him while He may be found.” Consider for a minute when a person who really knows that he or she is passing through this world recognises that “For He performs the things that is appointed for me … . Where shall I flee from Your presence? If I go up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there … . Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” Think of what this means to us Christians businesspeople, to know that we are not alone when facing all the uncertainties, difficulties, iniquities, and immoralities of the business world? Never again can we feel that we are alone or that our success depends on circumstances, emotions, or other people. For, never again can we forget that there is a Father for us in heaven, and never again will we not know that we are Christians, a name we have taken after Jesus, the King of Kings. There is a Presence, a Love, and a Power that goes before us to make the crooked place straight; a Presence, a Love and a Power that,—while we are passing through VII


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this world—, will pour in our lives peace, joy, and strength. The truth is that when we create and run our businesses for God’s glory, they are a holy ground. This could not be any truer for me. I have had dark periods and very low points in my business and professional career that tested my belief in God’s power, in human goodness, in my integrity, and in my self-worth. During these hard and sad times, I often failed to keep my dream and sometimes it seemed that God to had abandoned me. Yet, I always knew that He was either testing my faith, or growing my character, or calling me to repentance. I simply refused to give up as I knew this would have meant that I capitulate to all the evil in the business world. I never “made peace” with the devil when he attacked my peace, my joy, my character, my faith, or my purpose. The fact that God is my Father and that I am His child has never been and will never be negotiable. It is as certain as the air I breathe. I have the privilege of being a father to two wonderful kids; my daughter Mia, 11, and my son Maël, 7. I know how sad they are when I travel and they do not see me for an extended period. However, neither their sadness nor my absence means that I do not love them nor does it mean that I travel because I do not care about their life and future. Similarly, just because we sometimes do not “see” or feel God’s presence in our circumstances does not mean He does not love us or care for us. His grace is not always in what He gives; it is also in what He does not give, and at times it is found in what He takes from us. Whether we are sad or unsure, He is a Father who has our best interest at heart. We must realise that we can call no man our father upon the earth; for one is our Father who is in heaven. This truth has been my passport to victories and peace in life and in business and it only serves those who consciously believe it, trust it, and depend on it. Fulfilment is not necessarily found in the materialisation of God’s glory in our lives or businesses; it is essentially achieved by the realisation of who we are as God’s children regardless of our physical, material, or financial condition. If we

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Christians could only know that we are children of God and what this means, our faith would be instinctive and there is nothing on the face of the earth that we could ask for, that we have not yet received. Sadly, though, far too many of us have not, because we know not. We live beneath our privileges in that we short-change ourselves with regard to who Jesus restored us into. I once read a story by an unknown author that captures this sad reality. “There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day. He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man did not have enough money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food. On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges.” As Christians, we cannot live in accordance with our privileges; we cannot attain fulfilment unless we first realise that we are children

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of God. Our first and greatest privilege is being princes and princesses in the Kingdom of God. Peace, joy, rest, hope, and contentment will be foreign or too “costly” for us lest we make God the Father we chose to honour when we conduct our businesses. That is, our business culture—our beliefs, values and practices—should be about serving and satisfying Him through and in our businesses. This is what I mean when I say, “God is our customer.” You may be reading this and thinking that it is too late for you. You have made some big mistakes, some serious ethical and moral wrong choices that have caused you to lose credibility with your employees, managers, partners, friends, and people who know you in the marketplace. Or, on account of money, status, recognition, and possessions, you have lost your spiritual fervour and quenched your fiery spirit and zeal, and have cooled off your passion for God. You might have been totally swept off your feet and lost your right standing with God. You might have even walked out on God and broke your once strong tie and intimacy with Him. You may have seriously messed up, suffered a fatal blow from the enemy and fallen mightily into seemingly unpardonable sin and error. Well, I first wish to say that few years ago, my life was not far from some of the situations I have just painted. Also and most importantly, I am glad to tell you on behalf of God that there is a living hope for you if this is where you are. God’s grace and mercies are available and His love is endless. It is never too late to confess your sin to the Lord in sincere repentance and to seek His forgiveness. His long arm and gentle hand can still reach down in that lowest spiritual and moral spot and help you stand and walk away from it. The blood of Jesus is still available and free for you if you ask to be pulled out from that shameful and painful fall. That precious blood can enable you to get up and run again toward achieving your life purpose. Just because you have fallen terribly or several times does not mean you cannot rise, run again, and live a life that glorifies God. Like the leper in the book of Luke, God is willing to make you whole

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if you are willing; if you ask. Life, the Christian life in particular, is but a race with highs and lows. The winner, in this race, is not the one who finishes first, but all those who cross the finish line. In this race, the greatest runner is not the one with the fastest pace, but the one who rises from every fall they face. I do not know how great your fall has been. Actually, I do not want to know because that is immaterial for you as a Christian businessman or woman. After your falls, you may not have any courage, strength, and honour left to follow your dream and exercise your skills. That does not matter. What counts for you to reach the end of the race is your willingness to abandon worldly pursuits. What count is your willingness to make “to glorify God� the chief end of your business life. God is not through with you yet nor has He disowned you, nor has He become your enemy. You may have been condemned and looked at as an outcast at your church, your friends might have rejected and despised you. People in the marketplace might avoid you and treat you as a leper. But God still loves you and is waiting to celebrate you whenever you rise from your fall. He already designed a way for you to rise even before your fall, for His desire is to see you rise again and continue in your race toward the achievement of your life purpose. You can stand again in business, you can operate in a manner that glorifies God and brings His glory into your business. Your falls, your failings and failures, are an opportunity for God to manifest His love and power in and through you, in and through your business. Your willingness to glorify Him in and with your business is an opportunity for you to gain a character that is fashioned on the character of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, in whose footsteps we follow as we go about establishing in your business a culture that glorifies of God. Of course, having the Christian culture in our businesses does not

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mean that, as a Christian businessman and woman, you will not fault in your conduct. It does not mean that you will not face challenges such as corruption, injustice, unfair competition, or the administrative hurdles, nor does it mean that risks, i. e., the potential losses due, for example, to fire, theft, or exchange rate fluctuations, socio-political unrests, and changes in customer preferences, will not affect the achievement of your business objectives. We live in bodies and in a world that are fallen and that bear the troubles of sin and its effects. Having a Christian business culture means that, as passers-by—not participants—in this world, whether the circumstances or events in the business environment are adverse or not and whether we stumble in our actions or not, we remain single-minded about seeking to do things for God’s glory, while being sure that our ultimate reward found in the sharing of His glory and character cannot be affected by this world’s circumstances, by events, or by other people, nor can it be cancelled by our shortcomings. What the circumstances and events in business world are purposed for and what our failings serve, is not to keep us unfulfilled; they are rather meant to show us that we do not belong in this world and that we need to pass through it. In any case, why should not we be dissatisfied in this world if it is not our home? The message of this book is about two old-age principles: men shall not live by bread alone and we shall not serve two masters. When we create or run our businesses not for God’s glory, we create and run them without Him and are, with all certainty, going to fall into the destructive traps that this world’s ways and prosperity hide. To put it bluntly, if what we pursue in business does not glorify God, we will be unfulfilled whether we fail or succeed. Many Christian businessmen and women have experienced this reality or are aware of it, and, as a result, seek a culture that not only guarantees them fulfilment but also helps them to grow as children of God. I have found this culture and, in this book, I share it.

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Section One

BUSINESS CULTURE

THE CONCEPT OF BUSINESS CULTURE

Every organisation has a culture. Some are more positive than others. Schools and religious organisations have fairly positive and stimulating cultures. Even gangs have cultures that, while positive to their members, they are considered by the rest of society as negative. Businesses have cultures too. A few decades ago, business culture might have referred to a business’s dress code, office layout, working hours, or forms of behaviour. Today, most business leaders recognise that business culture is both more sophisticated and more powerful than anything contained in a code of ethics or employees manual. Awareness of business culture was undoubtedly a consequence of businesses’ expansion in new markets—where businesses found themselves operating in other national cultures. As corporations became aware of themselves as actors on the social scene, business culture became yet another aspect of the business to develop, watch, and evaluate—alongside the “hard” measures of assets, revenues, profits, and shareholder return. The concept of business culture emerged as a consciously cultivated reality in the 1960s along-side related developments like the social responsibility movement—itself the consequence of public hostility to multinationals. At its simplest, business culture refers to shared beliefs, values, and

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practices characterise the members of a business. By nature, it is something that flows from management downward and outward. In many businesses, the charismatic activity and leadership of a founder set the “culture” very early on. Business culture serves two important functions. First, it creates an internal environment that makes employees enjoy their workplace and be loyal to the business. Secondly, it enables a business to effectively deal with its external environment, for instance, to rapidly respond to customer needs, to the moves of a competitor, or to protect a business against unethical social behaviour such as corruption and sexual harassments. You are not sure what all of this means? Think Enron, Bear Stearns, and General Motors and you generate a slew of images and adjectives of a business culture. To the other extreme, mention Disney, Starbucks, Google, or Apple and the thought process goes in an opposite direction. The truth is that great businesses have often attributed their success to the cultures their leaders helped create. On the other hand, dysfunctional cultures have been blamed for many business failures and failings. A 2000 report issued in the Harvard Business Review established that business culture account for almost a third of financial performance. You may think your business is too new or small to bother with something as esoteric as business culture. But whether you do the work of encouraging a particular culture, or not, one will emerge anyway. And it matters. Business culture can significantly influence a business’s performance for better or worse. Indeed, culture can be a particularly important consideration for small businesses. When they first start a new business, many entrepreneurs, quite naturally, their persona tend to be the only factor that affects the identity of and the atmosphere in their business. As the business grows and adds employees the personality of the once very small business’s owner can become detrimental if it is not

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replaced by a healthy business culture, i.e., a culture that motivates managers and workers to work together towards the achievement of business goals. When entrepreneurs create a healthy culture in their businesses, they will find themselves and their employees all dancing around the same bonfire. A healthy culture makes employees view themselves as part of a team and gain satisfaction from helping the overall business succeeds. When employees sense that they are contributing to a successful group effort, their level of commitment and productivity, and thus the quality of the business’s products or services, are likely to improve. In contrast, employees in an unhealthy culture tend to view themselves as individuals, distinct from the business, and focus on their own needs. They only perform the most basic requirements of their jobs, and their main—and perhaps only—motivation is their paycheck. An unhealthy culture may inhibit a business’s growth or even contribute to business failure. The culture of a business not only shapes how its employees look at the business, but also, it shapes how the outside world views it. Business culture is powerful. It can affect the sense of fulfilment of everyone involved in a business. A recent research conducted in the United States by the National Opinion Research Centre and the Gallup Poll uncovered that 78% of Americans involved in business— entrepreneurs, managers and workers alike—declared they do not feel fulfilled in what they do. The chief reason given for their lack of fulfilment was the difficulty for them to grow spiritually or to have a dedicated spiritual life due to the immorality, uncertainty, and anxiety they face through their engagement in business. Half of these people admitted that they were committed to their work when spiritual related programs were conducted at their workplace. Evidence suggests that workplace spirituality programs offer people better mental and physical health, while businesses benefit from increased productivity along with reduced absenteeism

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and turnover. Furthermore, the poll revealed that, compared to people who worked for businesses with traditional business or corporate cultures, those who worked for businesses that promoted a Christian business culture experienced not only more peace and happiness, but an enhanced sense of self-worth, and real spiritual growth. This is too high an impact to ignore. TRADITIONAL BUSINESS CULTURES

People create businesses to realise their vision. To this end, they bring together individuals on a common platform to execute strategies that can help them realise that vision. Accordingly, it is essential for them to develop within their businesses a culture that is right for the execution of their strategies. If the culture clashes with the business’s strategy, the results can be disastrous. In other words, you can have the best strategies in the world, but if in you do not develop in your business a culture that fits them, your vision will never be realised, your decisions will be resisted—at least not openly—, plans will not be properly executed, dishonesty will reign supreme, and all kinds of things will go wrong. This is what I imply when I say, “Culture eats strategies for breakfast, performance for lunch and visions for dinner.” More often than not, the success or failure of a business hinges on how well employees embrace a business’s culture; an issue of compatibility rather than ability and experience. For instance, you want to be the first to market with the most innovative products, but have employees who do not believe in being creative or in taking risks? Chances are that you will be the first but somewhere else. You want to have the lowest failure rate of business initiatives, but have a business where rules are lax and people make decisions haphazardly. It is more probable that you will chase initiative after initiative to try to make your goals happen, to no avail. While, in principle, business culture is dictated by business 4


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strategies, in practice, it is influenced by the leadership style within the business. That is, a given leadership style determines the kind of business culture that will emerge within a business. Then, based on common leadership styles, the five traditional cultures found in businesses are, the Authoritarian Culture, the Bureaucratic Culture, the Adhocracy Culture, the Achievement Culture, the Clan Culture, and the Adaptive Culture. Each kind of culture emphasises specific basic beliefs, values, and practices.

THE AUTHORITARIAN C ULTURE The essence of authoritarian culture is a leadership based on “Do as I tell you, because I say so!” The basic assumption is that the leader always acts in the interests of the business. He keeps significant distance from employees and the only way to motivate them is through threats and punishment, rather than rewards.

THE BUREAUCRATIC C ULTURE The bureaucratic culture is a highly structured and formal place to work. Procedures and well-defined processes govern what people do. Leaders in this culture are good coordinators, organisers, and efficiency experts. The long-term concerns of the business are stability, predictability, and efficiency. Formal rules and policies hold the business together. Many businesses with a bureaucratic culture have policy manuals the size of telephone directories, which restrict what employees can think and do. Employees like this culture because extra work is not often required.

THE ADHOCRACY CULTURE The adhocracy or creative culture is the opposite of a bureaucratic culture. It is characterised by a dynamic entrepreneurial and creative working environment, individual initiative, innovation, risk-taking,

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little formalisation of behaviour, and low standardisation of procedures. Leaders are visionaries and risk-oriented. Success means producing unique products or services. Businesses operating on this culture do not necessarily have job specifications based on formal training or clearly defined roles.

THE ACHIEVEMENT CULTURE This is a results-oriented culture that values competitiveness, aggressiveness, and the willingness to work long and hard to reach goals. The long-term concern is on achieving targets such as sales, growth, profitability, or market share. Leaders are hard-driving producers, and competitors. Businesses with this culture hire the best people they can find, give them big salaries and luxury benefits, and provide them with the autonomy they need to get results. This culture is the most prevalent in today’s business environment and it is known to be the root cause of most business or corporate scandals.

THE CLAN CULTURE Businesses with a clan culture are generally friendly places to work. They are like an extended family with best friends at work. Leaders are thought of as mentors, coaches, and even as parent figures. The organisation places a premium on teamwork, participation, and consensus. Success is defined in terms of internal climate and concern for people.

THE ADAPTIVE CULTURE Businesses with an adaptive culture invests in employees’ independent judgment, resourcefulness and technical skills by consciously ensuring tasks and decisions are passed down the business and by investing in employees’ learning and training. Employees are

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not punished for mistakes they make or for trying new ideas that do not work when responding to change. This culture supports equal opportunity for each employee to realise his or her full potential within the business and embraces diversity. It emphasises on honest and open communications as a way to build trust. Leaders work towards making themselves dispensable by empowering employees. LEVELS OF CULTURE

Culture influences the way we think, what we do, how we work, and what is acceptable within a business. Edgar Schein, one of the most well-known theorists in the field of organizational culture credited with inventing the term Corporate Culture, developed a fairly influential model of organisational culture consisting of three interrelated levels; the deep level, the inner level and the surface level.

THE DEEP LEVEL The deep level comprises of assumptions or deeply held convictions or beliefs, i. e., what people think or hope, without proof to be true. The deeper level is not observable and is held at a subconscious level. This level is the most powerful dimension of culture as it dictates values and practices in a business. One example of an assumption in business is the fear of failure. This assumption may generate “hard work” as a value and can influence selection practices or promote the use of high motivational language within the business.

THE INNER LEVEL The inner or middle level of culture is a non-observable but conscious dimension of culture that consists of values. Values are the basic standards or principles people hold that set the preferred behaviour. They define what is right or wrong. Generally, of the values that make up a business’s culture, ethical or moral values—as opposed to 7


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stories about whether lower-level employees can rise to the top, stories about how the business deals with crisis situations, and stories about how status considerations work when rules are broken.

Leaders’ conducts It is the manner in which business leaders carry themself with respect to beliefs, values, and practices their business are built on. STRONG VERSUS WEAK CULTURE

A business culture can be strong or weak. All depends on the degree to which employees embrace beliefs, values, and practices promoted in the business A business is said to have a weak culture when the beliefs, values, and practices adopted by the business are not strongly held or widely accepted within the business or when they have not been clearly defined or communicated by the leaders. A weak culture can also occur if there is little alignment between the way things are done and the espoused beliefs, values, and practices or when employees are “stuck” in a culture that worked in the past but that which is no longer successful. This can lead to inconsistent behaviour of employees in the business and lead to conflict between themselves or between them and their leaders. Weak cultures provide little or no strategy-implementing assistance because there are no beliefs, values, or practices that management can use as levers to mobilise commitment and motivation A key consequence of weak culture is that there is greater need for procedures, policies and bureaucracy in order to get things done in the desired way. In direct contrast to a weak-cultured business, a business has a strong culture when there is widespread consensus and strong ownership of shared beliefs, values, and practices. With a strong culture, employees understand and observe—even without detailed strict policies and procedures—what is required of them.

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Many experts in business culture are of the view that a strong culture is beneficial to all businesses because it fostered motivation, commitment, identity, solidarity, and sameness, which, in turn, facilitated internal integration and coordination. In fact, studies have shown that relative to their peers, businesses with the strongest cultures often experience income growth and return on investment. Indeed, a strong business culture is what differentiates extraordinarily successful businesses from others? The key ingredient in the history of successful businesses, their major distinguishing feature and their most important competitive advantage is something less tangible, less blatant, but more powerful than the market factors; their strong business culture. The sustained success of these businesses has had less to do with market forces than business values; less to do with competitive positioning than personal beliefs; less to do with resource advantages than purpose. In fact, it is difficult to name a single highly successful business, one that is a recognised leader in its industry, that does not have a distinctive, readily identifiable business culture. Almost all successful businesses one could think of have developed something special that supersedes business strategy, market presence, or technological advantages. They have found the power that resides in developing and managing a unique, strong business culture. However, while strong cultures can help businesses build distinct identities and succeed in a favourable, stable, predictable times, they can cause them many difficulties and there are instances where they led some businesses to their failure. Firstly, a strong culture could lead to groupthink; a state in which even if people have different ideas, they do not challenge the leader’s or the majority’s thinking in order to avoid conflict. Take for example the strong bureaucratic culture at NASA at the time of the Columbia space shuttle disaster. Although most of the publicity surrounding the disaster focused on the foam panels that damaged the wings on takeoff, the inquiry board found that as much a culprit was a NASA

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bureaucratic culture that inadvertently created the conditions for disaster. “It has been scorched into my mind that bureaucracies will do anything to defend themselves,” said Admiral Harold Gehman Jr., Head of Inquiry. “Because of bureaucratic intimidation at NASA, engineers had no voice and no ability to make needed changes that might have prevented the disaster.” Secondly, a strong culture can be grounded on a widespread adherence to wrong values. For instance, there is little doubt that the culture at Enron was strong—but it was also toxic. Employees knew exactly what was expected of them—, it is just that what they were required to do was usually unethical and/or illegal. Thirdly, it may also be argued that a business with a strong culture might be less apt to adapt to changing environment. Specifically, if there is significant volatility in an industry, the performance advantage gained by having a strong business culture may fade and eventually entirely vanishing if the environment is highly unstable. Here is the explanation. When businesses with strong cultures are operating in relatively stable environments, their key processes and policies are often well-matched to business objectives. In such environments, strong cultures help businesses operate like “well-oiled machines,” cruising along with outstanding execution and perhaps minor tweaking of existing procedures here and there. That said, if the environment becomes extremely volatile and unpredictable, all bets may be off. A strong business culture can create a situation where rules and regulations become more important to employees than the actual purpose and mission of the business. It can make it easier for employees to hold to existing perspectives and, at the same time, less willing to explore new alternatives or ways of doing things. In a sense, a strong culture can limit creativity and ideas that may actually

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came to my recue; at the end of that very month, my friend failed to pay salaries as no rentals were collected. This incident led the once carefree, supernatural property manager to change and to become one of the most diligent agents in his industry. Some common myths have a grain of truth, but the “math” is often wrong. In some businesses it is believed that “the customers are never satisfied” or “admin staff are lazy” or “sales people do not follow the rules,” etc. There are people who fit those descriptions, but only a few. Most of the people who are put into those pigeonholes are there because of self-fulfilling prophecies. If people act because the customers will never be satisfied anyway, the customer will perceive it at some level, and it will cause dissatisfaction. If staff are treated as though they are lazy, they will be resentful and will act according to expectations. When managers believe that sales employees do not follow rules, they do not take any step to involve them, consequently, these employees will defy rules. I do not know if my opinion—which is difficult to describe in one or two words—of staff in the IT and accounts departments can be considered a myth because, to date, I have yet to meet someone who disagrees with me. All I can say is that they have a culture—or live in a world—of their own, which, often, needs to be integrated into the culture that is being shaped or that exist in a business.

H OW TO CHANGE BUSINESS C ULTURE Often, the culture change process in businesses resembles to something like this: someone at the top decides what the new culture should be. They turn a list of expected behaviours over to the HR department with the order that they tell people what the new “culture is.” The HR department “communicates” to people what the new behavioural standards are. People do not understand what is going on; they feel threatened and resent the change. When culture change is forced through like a steamroller or if treated just like another management fad, it will not work. Leaders 17


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may communicate a new vision, issue memos, or give rousing speeches to employees, change a few policies, and they might even replace a few key people. Still, little to nothing will change. Vision or values statements cannot get the job done, at a certain point, they are just words on paper. Performance reviews and training programs define the business’s expectations; reward or incentives plans reinforce them. Memos and communications highlight what is important, and top management actions—promotions for people who toe the line and a dead end career for those who do not—emphasise the business’s priorities. To change a business culture, one must first understand that business culture is not only the outward trappings like behaviours, office layout, dress codes, titles, or structure. It is also the deep down, unspoken, unobservable levels of beliefs and values. Ignoring this explains why business leaders usually imply only a change in behaviour when they say, “We need to change the culture around here!” What they want is, for example, employees to pay more attention to customers or managers to come to meetings on time, or some other set of behaviours. While patterns of behaviour or any other element of the surface level such as dress code and language can easily be changed through management actions—rules, regulations, rewards systems, promotions, etc.,—changing the inner and deeper culture levels, that is, changing beliefs and values requires instead a transformation of employees’ mind. This is achieved by giving them a new purpose for their involvement in the business world. The two underlying culture levels—deep and inner—are entrenched and constantly active in employees’ minds. They fit together as a mutually reinforcing system that govern the elements of the surface level, and make any difficult attempt to change culture. That is why single-fix changes such as “Lean Management,” “Knowledge Management,” “Six Sigma,” “Matrix Management,” or other new management processes, philosophies, or structures may

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appear to work for a while, but, eventually, the two hidden levels of business culture always regain control and the attempt to change culture is inexorably cut short. In other words, while changing the surface level elements through management actions or systems may have more appeal because it appears easier, by and large, this type of initiative cannot bring about culture change because employees’ beliefs and values remain unchanged. Therefore, the key to culture change lies in changing the underlying beliefs and values that drive culture surface level elements. In this sense, culture change is a radical and profound transformation of a business. I may also put it this way: As a business leader, you may have the power to change your business’s policies with the stroke of a pen. You may also have the ability to hire, fire, promote, and demote people with relatively little effort. However, changing your business’s culture is among the toughest management decisions to take and implement because of the heavy anchor of deeply values and beliefs held by people who work for you. Hence, to achieve culture change, you must win their hearts and minds. That takes both determination and imagination. In practice, to successfully change the culture in your business, it is first necessary for you to be uncompromising. That is, you need to be sincere and committed with an extraordinary persistence in reinforcing the new culture at every opportunity through both words and deeds. The actions taken have to be credible, highly visible, and unmistakably indicative of the seriousness of your commitment to cultural change. A wishy-washy approach will result in chaos as employees will not know what beliefs, values, or practices they will need to align themselves with. An indecisive attitude will allow them take advantage of the confusion and to conduct themselves as they wish. Make culture change non-negotiable and replace those who are not supportive of your efforts. This may sound harsh, but it is the only foundation on which you can successfully change the culture in

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your business. Or else, you will lose control over your employees and, when this happens, you have lost your business. Secondly, you need to give people working for you a revolutionary idea that they would want to embrace, rally around, and act upon. In short, you need to start a “movement” within your business. What do I mean by a movement? Well, first, let me clarify that movements do not have only to be about political issues or grand attempts to bring about social change. There are all kinds of movements—including, increasingly these days, movements started by business leaders to rally employees around a shared of purpose. We all know the story of Steve Jobs’ unbelievable turnaround at Apple Computer that led in the late 1990s to a series of startling product introductions that have continued up to the present. Job did not introduce new products; he introduced a new a culture. At the time of his return, the 20-year-old company had lost some sense of its own purpose, its “distinctiveness.” One of the first things Jobs did was to start a “Think Different” movement inside the business. Before the outside world ever saw those famous “Think Different” ads, those two words were appearing on banners and T-shirts at the business’s headquarters, ensuring that everyone at the company lived and breathed the new idea. “Steve was inviting everybody in that company to rethink everything,” recalls the long-time Apple ad chief, Lee Clow of TBWA/Chiat/Day. “At the time, he didn’t have any new product yet, and Apple was almost out of business. But to him, the first mission was to get everybody singing off the same song sheet again.” By the time “Think Different” became a public campaign— and an external movement that rallied creative people everywhere around this idea—it was already an established internal movement at Apple. A movement idea must clearly and forcefully be articulated. It should be “revolutionist” in tone. If the word “revolutionist” makes you think of an overthrow, it should, because you are trying to overthrow the old, unwanted culture in your business. Think of it as a

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Section Two

SHAPING THE CHRISTIAN CULTURE IN YOUR BUSINESS

IT ALL STARTS WITH THE PURPOSE OF BUSINESS

A business culture cannot be created in a vacuum. Suppose I start ploughing a bit of land. I plough it end to end every day except Sunday when I pray for it. Then I harrow it. Then I roll it. I plough, harrow, roll, and cultivate for months, and, one day, you come to see me and say, “Sir, what are you doing?” “I am cultivating this bit of land.” I respond. “What crop are you growing?” You ask. “Well, I have not sowed anything, but I expect from my hard work that something will grow.” You get the point? No matter how much a farmer works the land, no matter how fertile he makes the land, if has not planted anything, he is cultivating in a vacuum; no crop will grow. Similarly, one cannot “grow” a character if they have no purpose in them, if they have nothing to achieve in life. By the same token, one cannot “grow” or shape a business culture if they have not “sown” any purpose in their business. At best, they 25


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can institute ethical standards, which can produce preferred behaviours, but not a business culture. Expecting to produce a business culture based on ethical standards is like putting a bouquet of roses in a room; it looks beautiful and smells good, but it cannot last nor can it grow. It has no roots. It has no potential. It is destined to fade, die, and be thrown away. It is also like when two persons build their marriage based on their mutual good feelings and not on a shared purpose. This marriage cannot grow, nor can the two spouses cannot flourish in it. No matter how committed they are to each other or to their relationship, they will end up in two different places. Their marriage had no seed, no purpose that can grow and end into a life together. Put differently, the right purpose is the seed that grows and produces the right character in a person or the right culture of a business. Then, for us Christians businessmen and women, it is essential that we sow in our businesses a purpose—the reason we create and run them—that glorifies God if we want to create a business culture that will help us reap God’s. Scripture tells us: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life [life with God].” ~Galatians 6:8. Now, what is the purpose, the “seed” that worldly businesses have? Nowadays days, the majority of common people involved in business would say that the primary purpose of business, that is, the reason a business exists, is either to maximise profit for its shareholders or to serve the expectations and interests of all stakeholders, i.e., the shareholders plus employees, customers, the society as a whole, and the environment. This conception suggests that a principal challenge for a business is to balance the interests—sometimes conflicting—of all parties affected by the business.

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On the other hand, most business experts find more significant Peter Drucker’s thinking that the purpose of business is “to create a customer” as it suggests that, when the business is successful at creating and satisfying its customers, it is in a much better position to succeed and, as a result, to satisfy the interests of all its stakeholders. Although these and any other less popular notions of the purpose of business allow businesses to have focus, clarity, and determination, no businessman or woman can find in them the fulfilment they long for and the business world cannot draw from them any cure for the immoralities that fills it. The reason for this is that all the conventional concepts of business purpose are conceived and pursued incompatibly with humans’ life purpose. Businesses are owned and operated by human beings; unless what a business pursue corresponds to their true purpose, they will never know fulfilment in business. An American businessman-turned-futurist, John Renesch, wrote, “Corporations are human-made organisms, associations of human beings. To see this association as having one solitary purpose and responsibility, to grow only in economic terms, is such an extreme view that implosions like what happened to Enron and other corporate collapses will become more and more commonplace.” Anu Agha, ex-Chairperson of Thermax Limited, once said, “We survive by breathing, but we can’t say we live to breathe. Likewise, making money is very important for a business to survive, but money alone cannot be the reason for business to exist.” OUR LIFE PURPOSE ; SOURCE OF OUR BUSINESS CULTURE

A watch is made to tell time, a car to be driven, an airplane to fly, and clothes to be worn. Using these things apart from their purposes is both futile and deceiving. What about us humans; why do we exist?

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Some believe that there is no answer to this earth-shaking question. Others believe that the quest for an answer to the question is exactly the reason we exist. The fact is, no human being can have the answer to this question unless it is revealed to them. Even us Christians, until we gave our lives to Jesus, we never knew what our life purpose was. Jesus’ life was a demonstration of what the purpose of man is and Scripture helps us discover it. I Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God,” and Romans 11:36 says, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” The thread that runs through these two passages and through many more passages in the Bible points to the fact that our purpose as human beings, i. e., the reason we were made is to glorify God. Now, the fundamental yet not well understood point of human’s life purpose—that is, to glorify God—involves two distinct realities that we are called to experience; to give glory to God and to enjoy God forever. In other words, in calling us to give Him glory, God is welcoming us to enjoy Him forever. This dual purpose is what most Christian teachings term as “the chief end of men.” Of course, the two realities of our purpose are interlinked. To enjoy Him forever—a promise God made to us—, results from and is found in us giving Him Glory. However, these realities are not mutually inclusive, because we cannot enjoy God if we do not bring Him glory. Also, contrary to some false teachings—for example, the increasing popular Prosperity Gospel—, we do not give God glory in order to enjoy Him. When “to give Him glory” becomes a means or a reason “to enjoy Him,” we fall into idolatry, which is essentially putting what we can receive from God before what we must give Him, that is, our life. At best, it means we are “serving two masters,” a duplicity, which, just as idolatry, is a poison to the Christian faith.

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Section Three

CHRISTIAN DEEP BUSINESS CULTURE LEVEL:

OUR BELIEFS

The deep level of a business culture refers to beliefs or basic assumptions held by people within a business. They are either received or conceived and determine people’s perception or view of reality based on what the purpose of the business is. In essence, beliefs make up the frame of reference or mental map that guides people towards the fulfilment of their purpose. For us Christians businessmen and women, our beliefs, i. e., the deeper level of our business culture concerns truths revealed in the Bible. The responses to the following questions help us understand key differences between Christian and non-Christian beliefs in business. The world: Christians:  Whom do we serve? The world: Christians: The world: Our objectives?  Christians: The world  What will fulfil us  Who are we?

Businessmen or women. Children of God. Customers, Shareholders. God. Profit, revenues, growth. Life in God’s grace/presence. Money, power, status.

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Christians

Peace, joy, Obeying God.

As Christians, unless the beliefs we hold in our businesses are conform to the truths fund in Scripture regarding who we are, regarding who God is, and regarding Jesus, we will not fulfil our purpose. That is, we will not be able to bring glory to God and to enjoy Him in our businesses and in our lives. It is impossible for us to be godly when our beliefs are worldly. We cannot run after the same things as worldly people or do things the same way as them and expect to be blessed by God or to be a blessing to Him. In Romans 12:2 Paul recommends us not to conform ourselves to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed—into the children of God—by the renewal of our mind, i.e., by having a new mind or by replacing what the world takes as truths with God’s truths. The critical question that Paul’s advice raises is, what is the mind? THE MIND ACCORDING TO THE

B IBLE

A number of terms in the “Hebrew” Old Testament and “Greek” New Testament are used for “the mind.” Some of these terms overlap in meaning while others view “the mind” from differing perspectives. The Old Testament, Hebrew terms leb, nephesh, and ruach translated as “heart,” “spirit,” and “soul” respectively serve as references to the term or concept “mind.” They cover a wide range of ideas as they seek to describe the inward or invisible dimensions of the human being in a holistic manner. Thus, a rather limited vocabulary in the Old Testament serves different purposes in different contexts and can refer interchangeably to the seat of a person’s thought and emotional life, the emotions, and more broadly, to the inner person. In the New Testament, the Greek term nous is the most prominent term for “mind.” Nous is a broad concept of the mind that primarily refers to the seat of understanding or one’s “worldview” or outlook and the way in which it influences perception. It extends to ideas such as disposition and inner orientation or moral inclination, and to decision-making that determines a course of action. This concept of 36


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mind is attributed to Paul and is concentrated in his writings. In short, the mind is not just our thoughts, our reason or our intellect, but a whole process through which good or evil thoughts take place—in the form of conceived or received beliefs, ideas, feelings, and desires; a process we make decisions to act on our thoughts. This process, according to the Bible, is “the mind.” The first thing we need to realise about the mind is that it is ultimately designed by God to enable a person created in God’s image to receive knowledge from Him and to humbly communicate his love to Him. Thus, we cannot talk properly about the existence of the mind apart from its ultimate object, i.e., God, and our ultimate purpose, i.e., to glorify God. The mind was never designed to function as a machine with “things” and “self” as its chief focus. Further, while the mind as God’s creation is extremely powerful, it is not designed to totally grasp God. Rather, God gave it to us to make communion with Him a reality. He wanted to be known, so He created receptive beings—the human kind—, that possess the faculty we call mind, i.e., the knowing ability. But “the mind” is not the same in every human. Paul puts human beings into three categories by virtue of which every man—Christian or not not—, stands “naked” before God: The natural man, the carnal man, and the spiritual man. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 , he explains what the natural man is. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned.” In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, he describes the carnal or fleshy man. “Brothers, I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to children in the Christian faith. I had to feed you milk, not solid food, because you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready for it, because you still live as the people of this world live …” 37


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Finally, in 1 Corinthians 2:15-16, Paul defines the spiritual man. “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we [spiritual men] have the mind of Christ.” Now let us look at what “the mind” is in in these three types of men.

M IND IN THE NATURAL MAN Natural men are people who do not know Christ and who do not believe nor accept that their purpose is to glorify God. Because of this, they neither seek the peace, joy, and righteousness of God’s Kingdom, nor can they understand them. Paul says that the things of God are foolishness to such people. Rather than living to glorify and satisfy God, they live solely to satisfy and glorify themselves, i.e., their flesh. The natural man is therefore a person who is spiritually dead, separated from God. Living independently from God, the natural person sins as a matter of course. His mind—and subsequently his thoughts and actions—, is fed by his flesh and the world which act completely apart from the God who created him. The natural person may think he is free to choose his behaviour, but since he lives in the flesh, he invariably walks according to the flesh and his choices reflect the “deeds of the flesh” that Paul lists in Galatians 5:19-21. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

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Mind” in the natural man, i. e., in an unbeliever is a self-centred conceptual process. The process begins with the natural man “believing” worldly or fleshly truths—that, for example, the purpose of business is to make money. These truths then create self-centred thoughts—for example, I will be respected when I become very rich. Self-centred thoughts, eventually, produce self-centred actions such as fraud or exploitation of employees. For this unbelieving person, there is no other choice but to follow what he naturally thinks and feels because there is no other truth within him to produce anything different. The mind of the one who does not know God is in a state of futility and debasement, and, by implication, this state, though reversible, exists because of refusal to acknowledge God. This set of the mind is hostile to God. MIND IN THE CARNAL MAN : DOUBLE - MINDEDNESS

The carnal person is a Christian, who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour and who has been baptised in His name. That is where the difference with the natural man ends. Now, as the natural man, this believer walks daily according to the dictates of the flesh and of the world. Though he is free to choose to walk after the Spirit and to trust Jesus to empower him with His Sprit in order to live the Christian life, he continues to involve himself in sinful activity by wilfully walking after fleshly desires. He lives in defeat because, when he wants to live a Christian life, he trusts his own strength and not the Holy Spirit. This Christian is like little a child who lives for and according to what satisfies him physically or materially. He still assumes that money, possessions, fame, status, and pleasure can offer fulfilment. He thinks that somehow the devil and evil still have power over his life, that he can let himself be influenced by his flesh and, at the same time, be in God’s love because he has accepted Jesus. This person has practically blocked God’s Spirit from leading his thoughts and produces self-centred actions. In a sense, he has two minds. He is 39


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called light and evil good and good evil. In essence, a complete reversal of fortunes shall befall upon the earth. What has transpired today is pretty much the way the scriptures have portrayed what our society has become. For instance, businesspeople lie to their workers about long term benefits they will receive like pensions only to find the business is bankrupt and their vested savings have been wiped out. In fact, speaking with forked tongues is so common today in our society and is considered to be “a skill” in most of business world, that very few can be trusted with actually telling the truth. MIND IN THE SPIRITUAL MAN : SINGLE - MINDEDNESS

Contrary to the carnal man, i.e., the Christian who still lets himself be influenced by the desires of the flesh and the ways of world, the spiritual man is a Christian who instead lets himself be influenced by the Holy Spirit and whose only desire is to have a life that glorifies God. His mind is set on what glorifies God and not what satisfies Him or his flesh. This is the substance of Paul’s request to Christians in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, keep thinking about [fill your mind with]such things.” In Romans 8:5 he says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit [those who are spiritual men], the things of the Spirit.” And in in Colossians 3:1-2 he tells us: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of

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God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. The spiritual man is preoccupied with what glorifies God. He seeks to remain in the Spirit in everything he does and everywhere he is. As an angry man who is controlled by anger or a perverse one who is controlled by lust, so is the spiritual man controlled by the Spirit. Paul says of the spiritual man that “he can judge all things and no man can judge him.” In other words, the Spiritual man can discern God’s will and hence reach proper conclusions as he views the things of God in a spiritual light. He has no limitation in understanding the realm of the things of God. He discerns all things, yet no man can discern or understand him; no man can figure him out; no man can understand why he behaves the way he does. How can he show love even when he has been wronged? How can he be so patient and understanding in all situations? How can he have such peace when the world is falling apart around him? The world does not know the God he serves, so no man will ever understand how the spiritual man lives. How could it be otherwise since he is controlled by the Spirit? Possibly the most important part of Paul’s description of the spiritual man is that he “has the mind of Christ.” “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” ~1 Corinthians 2:16, Philippians 2:5 We have the mind of Christ. What a powerful statement. To have the mind of Christ does not mean that we reach a level of perfection or infallibility equal to Jesus. It rather means to have the same mental 51


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frequently uses it in the sense of mental apprehension rather than visual sight, that is, as “I get it,” “I know it,” or “I receive it.” Paul is a dramatic example of a man who made a sudden sharp turn in conduct and attitude when he “saw” that he was in reality a hardened sinner and not headed into the Kingdom of God. In John 3:3, Jesus’ emphasis is on the Kingdom of God being something to be known as in “experienced” rather than visually observed. His remark has this sense: “Except a man is born again, he cannot experience the things of God; he cannot be fit for it or enjoy its benefits.” In this context, He teaches the Kingdom of God as an entity of valuable spiritual and moral force. The things of His Kingdom are not apparent to the natural vision. A new power of sight is required; only the spiritual man can have it. THE

KINGDOM OF GOD

We live in a wonderful and yet a fearful age. It is a wonderful age because of the amazing accomplishments of our modern scientific and technological skills that have provided us with a measure of comfort and prosperity undreamed of a century ago. Great airplanes soar through the air swallowing up thousands of miles in a few hours. Floating palaces bring to the ocean voyager all the luxuries of the most elegant hotel. The automobile has freed man to explore for himself scenes and sights which to his grandparents were contained only in story-books. Electrical power has brought a score of slaves to serve the humblest housewife. Medical science has conquered the plague of smallpox and other scourges of physical wellbeing, mobile telephony has made telecommunication between people almost a magical experience, and the internet has given the human kind easy access to information that it did not even know existed and is on the threshold of other amazing conquests. A “marvellous age,” indeed. Yet fulfilment and security seem further removed than ever, and human inventions and achievement seem to contribute a great deal to the creation or promotion of

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dangers, hazards, and evils of unparalleled dimensions. New discoveries in the structure of matter have opened unimaginable perspectives for man’s physical well-being; yet these very discoveries hold the potential, in the hands of evil men, of blasting society from the face of the earth. More than ever before, with the help of our consumer society, prosperity has become more achievable, yet more and more people live in poverty and are exploited by those who have prospered, while greed and unfairness have become necessary ingredients to achieve prosperity. Communication, networking between people, and access to information have been made simple, convenient, faster, and amazing through the technological progresses of cellular phone and the internet. Yet they have made the invasion of privacy, theft of personal information, harassment, stoking, bullying, and all sort of indecencies easy to carry out; forcing many governments to come up with new laws that criminalise these behaviours. These two technological inventions, the internet and the mobile telephony, are to blame for allowing unrestricted access to pornographic materials. Addiction to pornography is not just on the rise but it is destroying more marriages and keeping many parents awake at night. Also, thanks to these two technologies, people are now more socially disconnected than ever before. Today, people now only meet on social networks and more are drifting apart from their friends and family. Even children prefer to play online games rather than going out and mingling with other kids. In an age like this, wonderful yet fearful, most of us are asking questions: What does it all mean? Where are we going? Many of us are concerned today not only about the individual and the destiny of his soul but also about the purpose of mankind itself. Does mankind have a destiny? Or do we jump across the stages of time like wooden puppets until we encounter immoralities or tragedies that will destroy humanity like a fire or a bomb, leaving only a pile of ashes and the smell of smoke?

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The fact is, the world is not only imperfect today; it has been imperfect since we humans started living in it. On the other hand, we always have longed to find the path to an ideal world. It is common to think about ideal circumstances long in the past or somewhere in the future. Every society in history has devoted time to building what amounts to “castles in the air.” In ancient times, poets and fortune-tellers longed for an ideal world. Heriod dreamed of a lost Golden Age in the distant past but saw no brightness in the present; a present made of constant care for tomorrow and no hope for the future. Plato, putting words in the mouth of Socrates, was able to exploit legends about Atlantis, a marvellous port city west of the Pillars of Hercules, in order to spell out his plan for the ideal city-state; the world as he thought it should be. Virgil sang of one who would deliver the world from its sufferings and by whom “the great line of the ages begins anew.” The prophets announced a day when men will live together in peace. “God shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” ~Isaiah 2:4 Not only shall the problems of human society be solved, but also the evils of man’s physical environment shall be no more. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” ~Isaiah 11:6 Peace, safety, security; all this was promised for the happy future. Over scores of generations, throughout the history of the Hebrews as recorded in the books of the Bible, we see this vital expectation from God developing. God told Moses that He had prepared for His people a “land flowing with milk and honey.” If any group had reason to long for heaven’s joy, it was the Jewish people enduring the

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trials of exile. In the poetry of the Psalm we read, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” Then, came Jesus of Nazareth with His announcement “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!” without explaining its meaning audience. This indicates that the Kingdom was well known to the Jews and that it was already the object of their faith and hope. Jesus lived in a time when the expectation of this coming Kingdom was strong yet controversial. His home country, Judea, with severely limited home rule under a foreign-born king, was subject to the Roman Empire. The Jews themselves were divided into several factions including the Zealots, who advocated insurrection against Rome in order to hurry the coming of God’s Kingdom, and the Sadducees who reinterpreted their own religious doctrines so they could comfortably discard any expectation of that Kingdom. Many of those who followed Jesus actually believed He would march into Jerusalem and stage a “coup” in order to restore the fortunes of the Israelite royal line. But Christ taught that this coming Kingdom would not simply be a contemporary political victory for Israel but instead a historical climax for all mankind; the true expectation for which everybody had yearned and still yearns today. The real battle has never actually been between nations, but between humankind and the deficiencies that keep us from God. The New Testament is full of encouragement about this very real expectation and what it will mean to people everywhere, regardless of the ideals they cling onto in today’s world. The inevitability of this eagerly anticipated “new society” is what is called in the original Greek text, euangelion—literally “good news,”—and appears in the English Bibles as “gospel” and in the French Bible as les évangiles. But this “good news”—the very hope of the early Christians—, has become so diluted that few who call themselves Christians today know about the Kingdom of God. Instead, their hope is that they will only assume a place in heaven when they die. They do not know that

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the Bible on the side of their beds does not teach that. The very worth of Christ’s message is discarded when we accept the bizarre notion of humans rewarded with a place in heaven when they die. Our tombs are not the doorway to the Kingdom of God. A return to the original teaching of the real expectation—the good news about the coming of God’s Kingdom to this earth—makes sense of living according to the example of Christ, and it restores hope to all mankind. Apart from anticipation of the coming Kingdom, living as a Christian is aimless and makes being a Christian utterly futile. Jesus’ teaching was designed to show men how they might enter the Kingdom of God. His mighty works were intended to prove that the Kingdom of God had come upon them and His parables illustrated to His disciples the truth about this Kingdom. When He taught His followers to pray, at the heart of their request were the words: “Thy Kingdom come!” On the eve of His death, He assured His disciples that He would share with them the happiness and the fellowship of the Kingdom. He also promised that He would appear again on the earth in glory to bring the blessedness of the Kingdom to those for whom it was prepared. In His parables, Jesus used a variety of images to explain what His Kingdom is like. The reason he had to use parables was because his listeners did not have the same concept of “kingdom” as He did. The word “kingdom” in the phrase “Kingdom of God” is a metaphor since the sort of kingdom that Jesus was talking about is not an ordinary kingdom—certainly, this is not a kingdom in the worldly sense. “My Kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus insisted. Without question, this is the theme of the Bible. I say this in the full acknowledgment of the fact that Jesus Christ is the Chief Person of the Bible. It is true that all Scripture points to Him. Some of the references are very subtle but others are obvious. All of them are accurate but not all of them are complete. He is the principal Person, the leading Character, if you please. He is the Lord—Yahweh—of the Old Testament and the Lord Jesus Christ of

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Section Four

CHRISTIAN INNER BUSINESS CULTURE LEVEL:

OUR VALUES

Values are standards that guide our decisions and actions. Some values are a matter of preference—for example, colours, sizes, beauty—or of interpretation—for example, strictness, tolerance, neatness, speed, order. Other values are absolute qualities that define what is right or wrong. These are generally referred to as ethical or moral values and make up the inner level of business culture. Now, the New Testament speaks of two kingdoms; the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. Psalm 10 tells us about values prevalent in the second kingdom: “The wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; he blesses the greedy, and renounces the Lord.” Compare this to values characterising the first Kingdom as represented in Psalm 112: “A good man deals graciously and lends, he will guide his affairs with discretion.” Businesses with worldly purposes often claim to adhere to certain godly standards or use noble terms to identify, I mean to dissimulate, their corrupt l values. But, no matter their façade, the inner level of their culture, that is, the standards they promote are the opposite of those that God requires Christians to operate by in business.

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However, in direct contrast to the world’ values which typically consist of greed, wealth, selfishness, power, pride, unkindness, revenge, fame, and status, Christian values regard grace above wealth, others above self, eternity above the present, righteousness above the temporary pleasure of sin, His will above my will, forgiveness above revenge, giving above receiving, family over careers, character above credentials, truth above falsehood, commitment above comfort, and fruit of the Spirit above human qualities. These values are clearly taught in Scripture and are requirements with regard to the culture God wants Christians to maintain in business. As such, they are the essence and object of the Christian business ethics which is founded on the necessity for every Christian businessperson to have a Christ-like character and which I will define and explore when, in the concluding chapter, I deal with the daily conduct of Christian business leaders. In this chapter, I limit my discussion on Christian business values as elements of the inner level of the Christian business culture. INTEGRITY

The root word of integrity is “integer” which means a whole number, entire, complete in itself. In mathematics, an integer is a number that is not divided into fractions. Just so, a person of integrity is not divided within himself or herself. He or she does not act in conflict with his or her own beliefs and values. Integrity is the agreement between what we practice and the truths that we embrace. That is, what we do should be consistent with the truth we believe in. When we are single-minded, we only embrace one truth; when we have integrity, we only practice that one truth; what we think and what we do must be one. As I always put it, integrity is to have our body, our thoughts, and our heart together in one place at all times. The lack of integrity or hypocrisy is when someone practices the truths that they do not believe in. What they do or say is not 122


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consistent with what they harbour in their mind as truths. This is guile which is synonymous with deception, treachery, cunning, dishonesty, under-handed, misleading, counterfeit, insincere, doubledealing, unfaithfulness. If there were any type of people that Jesus could not stand, it was hypocrites. For instance, the Pharisees of Jesus’ times were a religious and political party that insisted on very strict observance of Biblical laws on tithing, ritual purity, and other religious matters. At the same time, many of them neglected the true spirit and intent of the law and became self-indulgent, self-righteous, and snobbish.. That led Jesus to remarks such as: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” ~Matthew 23:27-28 I must caution though that being hypocrite does not only refer to people who portray or practice God’s truths on the outside without embracing them on the inside. It also applies to people who embrace God’s truths on the inside, but practice the world truths on the outside. Furthermore, integrity has become so relative today because people tend to act according their own truths and interests. Some people think that they have integrity when they act according to their emotions and feelings. Others consider it to have integrity when they act in conformity with whatever guarantees them a reward or gain or when they act in conformity with expectations of good behaviour as defined by society, by others or by a business. Generally, people considered to be of the highest integrity are those who act in conformity with their personal moral standards; those who will discard in their decisions their own emotions, possible rewards, laws, and the expectations of the society or of other people.

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These forms of integrity may be meaningful and valuable for people who do not know God or who are not willing to bring Him glory. They are however futile for Christians since they are not centred on glorifying God and cannot help us to grow as His children. For us, true integrity means acting in accord with our purpose which is to glorify God in everything we do or say. Our kind of integrity or true integrity is founded on the conviction that we are God’s children who owe their lives, families, and businesses to God. This integrity does not consider emotions or feelings; it does not seek earthly rewards or gains, it is not concerned about other people’s expectations or the society’s, and it does not trust our own principles or moral standards. In fact, it sets the standards for all other form of integrity. SIMPLICITY

While true integrity is the conformity of or unity between what we practice and our beliefs as God’ children, simplicity is about keeping this unity in a pure form, that is, without any embellishments, rationalisations, preferences, or interpretations. It is, for me, the highest accomplishment in our character as Christian. But simplicity does not mean naïveté or superficiality in our understanding and practice of God’s truths. It is rather the renunciation of our own understanding and ways regarding our faith and purpose in favour of a total trust in and dependence on God for knowledge and guidance. It is presenting ourselves to God and to others as we are without any pretentions. It means being sincere. The origin of the word sincere is the Latin sincerus, which means “pure” or “clean. It originates from the compounding word sine cera, meaning “without wax.” In the time of the ancient Romans, devious dealers in marble and pottery would conceal defects in their products by filling the cracks and holes with wax. Honest merchants, those— who did not doctor their products—, proudly displayed their wares as being without wax; i.e., “sine cera.”

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Lack of sincerity is all too common in advertising, business dealings, and management. As Christians, we must strongly resist the temptation to present ourselves, our businesses, our products or services while not telling their weaknesses or beyond what they reality are. Just sticking the word “Quality” on something means very little. Customers want to know what they are buying and many appreciate it when the faults are also pointed out. Just stating that you are an employer of choice does not mean anything if your employees feel that their contribution to the business is not appreciated or if they are not treated fairly. Keep it open, keep it genuine and God will smile on your business. THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

The word excellence is generally used to refer to something or someone of superior quality or condition. It has become the holy grail of the modern culture. It is the aspiration of athletes, the benchmark of businesses and industries, and the essence of personal improvement. The common notion of excellence promotes individual effort and puts a premium on exceptional skill. In this world of makeor-break rankings, “excellence” is too often interpreted as the capacity to come out ahead or to be extraordinary different. However, when we think of the pursuit of excellence from a biblical standpoint, is that what is meant? No! As the above perspective suggests, those who approach or look at life from the viewpoint of the world, typically think of excellence in terms of of outstripping others and that is usually done for one’s own glory or significance or for the praise or applause of men. The world’s way of excellence is gauged by competition and achievement. If excellence in Christian life is simply or even mainly about competition and achievements, then we would agree that there is something dangerous and even perverse about pursuing or applauding excellence. On the other hand, I think that we should not lower achievements in order to defy the world’s definition of excellence. 125


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The alternative to adopting the conventional sense of excellence is not to reject excellence altogether nor is to settle for mediocrity masked as a virtue, it is rather the understanding and application of what excellence really is. The Greek word for excellence used in the New Testament comes from the word perisseu which means to have in abundance or to increase. So biblically speaking, the pursuit of excellence does not mean seeking to be better than others, thereby creating “winners” and “losers.” It rather means surpassing ourselves in pursuing to be our best. In other words, for us Christians, the pursuit of excellence refers to pursuing and doing the best we can with the gifts and abilities God gives; giving our best to the glory of God without the spirit of competition or achievements. Brian Harbour, in Rising Above the Crowd, commented, “Success means being the best. Excellence means being your best.” Success, for many, means being better than everyone else. Excellence means being better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Success means exceeding the achievements of other people. Excellence means matching your practice with your potential. To achieve excellence there must be discipline and tenacity of purpose. An individual who wants to excel in everything they do no matter how small the task may seem, has a drive that supersedes any requirement of being noticed, recognised, admired, or rewarded. There is an understanding that even if no one else knows, two people will know: them and God. And God’s approval is much more valuable to them than the praise of men. So for us Christians, pursuing or exercising excellence is not about seeking the praise and appreciation of men, but about honouring God in everything we do. Excellence goes hand in hand with integrity as the character of an individual can be judged by what they do when no one is watching. The one who strives to do things with excellence even when no one else notices is a person with integrity. Ecclesiastes 12:14 speaks of works that God will call into judgment, even things done in secret,

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good or bad. This thought alone can convince a person of excellence to do their best quality work at all times. The pursuit of excellence from a biblical view is always connected with the issue of God’s values and priorities. This means that pursuing excellence is never a matter of simply choosing between what is good or bad, but of choosing what is best or superior because it will better enable us to accomplish what God has designed us to be and do. The suggestion is that the pursuit of excellence includes the elimination of some things even though they may be good and legitimate. The principle is, are they the best and will they get in the way or hinder the main objectives of a Christian’s life based on biblical principles and values? If so, they need to be eliminated. In thinking about biblical motives for the pursuit of excellence, we are brought again face-to-face with the issue of the primary purpose for the Christian life: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” The Apostle Paul reminds us that whatever we do—in keeping with our purpose—is to glorify God. This naturally includes pursuing excellence. For the Christian who is concerned about his motives, this is the only starting place. Christians must constantly be reminded that nothing less than glorifying God should be the motive for whatever they do and how they do it. The following statement on a sign was posted in a farm equipment repair shop. “We do three types of jobs—Cheap, Quick, and Good. You can have any two. A good quick job will not be cheap. A good cheap job will not be quick. A cheap quick job will not be good.” Reader’s Digest, February 1994, p. 127 If a Christian in business is to be recognised as excellent, he or she must have as goal to glorify God with the service or product their business offers. They must always honour God and be thoroughly cognisant of their role and mission in the world. Such a Christian businessperson never forgets that God has called them to be His

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witness before the lost world in which they do business. When Christians in business commit themselves to the pursuit of excellence, they exalt the name of God. Some people assume that by giving their business a Christian name, the business will automatically do well and, by assuming so, they take a back seat and wait for God to do wonders. The truth is that He will not. A Christian name does not mean that it will succeed. It is just a name like any other. God will bless your business because of you; and “you” means giving your best to your business. The key is to develop a daily, disciplined awareness of who we are as children of God and who God is as our Heavenly Father. This awareness, fuelled by an intimate need to give Him glory, will influence our thinking, decision-making, words, and actions. If we make a commitment to be somewhere or do something and we do not do it, we are not pursuing excellence. We should do things as “unto the Lord.” As we do things “unto the Lord,” we should do those things with excellence. The world says, “if they want me to do more, they better pay me more, and until they pay me more, I am not doing any more.” The Spirit of excellence says, “to do and seek more because you are more and because there is more in and with God.” Being excellent means being exceptional, making the ordinary an exception, and always exceeding expectations. In other words, it is the willingness to go the extra mile, to do more than is asked, and to take extra steps to produce the highest quality of ourselves and of what we do. Going beyond what is expected is what makes excellence, but exercising minimal effort will at best result into a mediocre performance. A story I recently read speaks about excellence in an interesting way. The author wrote, “One of my least favourite subjects in high school was English. My English teacher had a unique way of trying to get the most out of his students. He used sarcasm and dry humour to try to get us to put forth greater effort. Some of his laziest students

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Section Five

CHRISTIAN SURFACE BUSINESS CULTURE LEVEL:

OUR PRACTICES

The surface level of business culture is conscious and observable. It is made of practices within a business and typically include mission statements, symbols, slogans, rituals, dress code, languages, stories, selections, socialisation, and leaders’ daily conduct. Compared to the inner and deeper levels, the surface level of a business culture is much easier to change. For example, if salespeople have been driven by monetary gain for many years, but the business has decided to develop a stronger customer service reputation, it will be easier to change how salespeople speak to customers than change the internal motivations of the salespeople. Rooted in and resultant of the inner and deeper levels, the surface level is an integral part and function of business culture. It is a decisive aspect of culture because, when it is perfectly in accord with the deeper and inner levels, it reflects the culture of a business. But given its externality, it can be easily used to simulate beliefs or values that a business does not embrace in reality. Some businesses can, for instance, on the surface, appear very professional, structured, caring about customers and employees, while inside, “behind the scene,” they are built and operate on fraud, corruption, and all other kinds of illegal or criminal activities. Their 143


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appearance is just a “window dressing.” Others, and this often is the case in today’s business world, do not have or avoid to have any beliefs or values of their own but only maintain a superficial “culture” that helps them achieve specific objectives. These businesses do not care what their employees’ beliefs and values are. As long as they perform their jobs well and meet their targets, their employees are “good” for the business. This superficial form of culture is what has led some to define business culture as “the way things are done here.” It is not a culture because it is not built on any beliefs and does not have any value it operates by. It is a mere “group performance.” Then integrity is a key value to the surface level since it allows consistency and unity between beliefs, values, and practices. Just imagine for a second that you are in front of a mango tree that produces apples. An apple tree should produce apples. In this sense, what is practiced in a business must be entrenched in its values and beliefs. When this is not the case, like in the Enron situation, bankruptcy, bad reputation, imprisonments, or even suicides are the expected outcomes. For us Christians, the surface or practice level is critical because the more externalised our deeper and inner levels are, the more they drive our business culture. In other words, the more we put into practice our beliefs and values, the less likely we can succumb to worldly influences and patterns; the truer we are being transformed into God’s children and the more effectively, emotionally, and singlemindedly we will be fulfilling our purpose. More importantly, when our beliefs and values are constantly externalised in our businesses, i.e., when we translate them into actions, our identity and destiny as God’ children become evident and uncompromising. Our identity and destiny as God’s children are only a power in proportion to how we bring them to life and keep them alive through our practices. Being in the world, we do not have any other way of exalting the name of God, of honouring Him, of sharing about Him if it is not through what we practice. We cannot be the “salt and the light” of

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the earth if this is not done through our clothing, language, rituals, socialisations, etc. These are the tools we have in life and in business to fulfil our purpose. Everything we say or do must be weighed against our purpose; does it glorify God? We cannot afford to have an outward life that reflects the world’s beliefs and values, while inside, our beliefs and values are Christians. Not only will this result in us becoming culturally dysfunctional—unstable, frustrated and with many broken relationships—and in our failure to grow as God’s children, but also it will result in us not being able to enjoy God. What we practice in life and business as Christians should be a reflection of our beliefs and values that draw their meaning and strength from our chief purpose—to glorify God. Therefore, when what we practice is not consistent with our purpose, our beliefs become powerless—“faith without deeds is dead”—and our values become mere principles with no eternal consequences. Let us now explore different elements of the surface level of the Christian business culture and, later, expand on what it takes to shape it through our daily conduct as leaders in our respective businesses. MISSION STATEMENT

A Mission Statement is a concise, written document stating the nonfinancial goals you are trying to achieve. For instance, your Mission Statement might answer these questions: What goals are we trying to achieve that results in value or meets human needs? Who are the people we serve? Why is our product or service unique? How do we get the word out about what we offer? How will our Christian values aid us in reaching our goals? A well-honed Mission Statement will be three to five sentences long. Here are some examples: Daily, we are forced to make decisions that lead us either closer or further from our goals. Use your Mission Statement to become a sort of “North Star” to keep you on track in times of doubt.

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lifestyle of employees we select to work for us—not necessarily their faiths—are more critical. They can affect our business lives as well as our personal ones. Hence, it is important that we have in place Values Declaration that guides our recruitment policies. The purpose of this declaration is to select people who share our values and not necessarily our faith. Once your business has a core set of values, you can use this as part of questionnaires to prospective employees either on the application form or in the interview. This will help establish if your potential recruits will abide by and support your business’s values once employed. SELECTING PARTNERS

One question Christians in business regularly wrestle with is whether a Christian should enter into a business partnership with a nonChristian. This question on Christian business partnership is one full of opinions and experiences. What do you think? Can Christians have a business partnership with non-Christians? I personally believe that Christians could do business—in terms of strategic alliances or joint ventures—with non-Christians. These types of partnerships are easy to terminate once the business venture is finished or the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial. A Christian may therefore “partner” with businesses run by people of other faiths as long as these businesses have a clearly demonstrated interest in conducting their affairs ethically, recognising that people who are not members of the Christian faith may also have strong ethical and moral beliefs, making them acceptable business partners. The fact is that Christians are not the only ones who possess good values and character when doing business. I know Agnostic, Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim businesspeople who demonstrate by their fruits that they are men and women of integrity and character. The problem is that when the other person does not share our worldview. On the surface, our outlook on profit, the

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competition, employees, and a host of other principles and values might seem to be the same, but they are drawn from different wells. With partnerships in the sense of co-ownership, the question goes deeper than good sense. It goes beyond what is in the best interest of the business. It touches our purpose and our beliefs—not merely values—as Children of God. That why I believe that Christians should only work with fellow Christians because a partnership, in the form of shared-ownership, is like a marriage. You need to “marry” someone with the same life purpose and beliefs as you. Our life purpose, the reason we exist, is to glorify God. We believe that Jesus is Lord and God and that we are called to be fulfilled as Children of God. We believe that the Kingdom of God has already come through Jesus and that it will be fully established when He returns. Our pursuit is to see the Kingdom of God, that is, peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit, manifested in our lives and businesses. With our businesses we serve God and want “satisfy” Him. In this sense, He is our “Customer” who will always send to us perfect “buyers.” In in Corinthians 6:14 Paul says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Clearly, Paul warns Christians not to be bound together with unbelievers and this surely includes business shared-ownerships, which require two or more parties to agree on the purpose of the business as well as on the beliefs it operates on. Let us simply consider the question of tithes. Will a non-Christian business partner accept to “give to God” one tenth of monthly income? But in general, as per the remark in Amos 3:3, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” The Word of God is clear about this subject. In Exodus 23:32-33 we are told, “Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to 183


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communication or social media to disseminate its ways into the minds of men, influencing them against their Creator and His people. Compared to previous “Babylons,” the major difference in what we now face in “modern Babylon” lies in the intensity, availability, and receptivity of its communication. As far as I know, never before have we been confronted by these twisted, persuasive, and invasive powers as we are is today. They now have the global use of the visible and audible influence of radio, music, movies, television, and the Internet in addition to the entrenched systems of thought and standards of conduct.

IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD We absorb the world’s influence through the communication of the beliefs, values, and practices, i.e., through the culture of the society in which we are born, the culture in which we live and the culture in which we work. These cultures are instilled in us with virtually no resistance. So strong are they that we find that some—perhaps even many—of them are contrary to God’s purpose. However, we discover to our dismay that, so engrained are they in our character that they hold us in bondage and so deceived are we that we seek fulfilment where it cannot be found; in things that prevent us from being alive as God’s children; things that kill us spiritually. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1-4: “You used to be dead because of your offenses and sins, in which you once lived according to the ways of this present world and according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now active in those who are disobedient.” Indeed, all of us once behaved like the Ephesians by fulfilling the desires of our flesh. And because we live in pressure-packed and distracting times, it has never been more essential to protect ourselves from the evil communication permeating this world by following Paul’s counsel in Romans 13:11-14:

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“Do this, knowing the time; that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Separating evil from our lives has become even more essential since our homes are wired to bring much of what the Lord has condemned into our own living rooms. We must be vigilant! Then, as Christians, one of the most difficult challenges in our lives is to live and grow in the world as God Children but not to be part of it, that is, to be “in the world but not of the world.” God wants His people to be active “in” the world so they can make it a much better place to live and work in. The Gospel also makes it clear that we must live in this world to achieve our eternal destination. Many goodhearted Christians take the phrase “not to be of the world” as saying that Christians must avoid the influence of the world by secluding themselves. Some of them end up becoming monks, hermits, and recluses, hiding away from as much of the world as they possibly can. Others separate themselves from common people and live in cloistered communities without any significant contact with the outside world. In the 1800’s religious communes became popular as groups such as the Shakers attempted to keep the world out of their lives. I also think of the Amish who have made an effort to live secluded from the world. Unfortunately for them, their uniqueness has also made them popular among tourists who flock to so-called Dutch Pennsylvania to look at them and their “other-worldly” ways. Some of the Corinthian Christians tried this experiment. In a letter sent to them, Paul told them “not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin.” They took Paul to mean that they should 207


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Christ, our example and whose name with taken after, was in the world, working with sinners, but He also took time to separate himself for prayer. He faced temptation, but did not give in to sin. While we cannot obtain His perfection, our life is to imitate and follow Him. Salt is worthless if it is no longer distinctive. If we become like the world, we cannot save it nor can we be transformed into God’s children. Light is worthless if it is not seen. We cannot influence the world for good if we remain hidden and a hidden flame is eventually snuffed out. If you are not a Christian, it is past time for you to come out of the world, but if you are a Christian and the world has control over your life, what God commands that you come out and you can come out right where you are. The coming out will not be a physical leaving of a geographical area or the staying away from worldly social events, but a departure from the world’s patterns and culture. This is not to say that changing one’s physical location or not participating in worldly socialisations will not be helpful in winning the spiritual battle and in our transformation as children of God. Then, here is our challenge: In verse 1 of Romans 12, Paul makes a strong, urgent appeal to us Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifice to God. “This is the reasonable way for you to worship God,” He adds. He does not mean that we should give up merely our skin and bones, but the totality of what we are—our entire beings including our minds with all of their character, energy, knowledge, experiences, skills, perspectives, and attitudes—with nothing held back since we are likely to hold a portion of our life in reserve just for ourselves. In other words, he is asking us to consecrate our entire lives to God. Note that Paul does not call this “extreme,” but “reasonable.” It is reasonable because sacrifice suggests the giving up or forfeiture of something or oneself for something or someone we truly love. In this context, the “someone” is Jesus Christ and the “something” is His Kingdom.

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Love comes at a high price; it comes with a sacrifice. But it is also rewarding because, as we make the sometimes costly choices to please God by following Jesus Christ, we receive our character and privileges as God’s Children. Therefore, if we fail to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and His ways, the world will have free dominance on us and will keep us from being who we are—princes and princesses of God’s Kingdom—and from enjoying the peace, joy, and righteousness of this Kingdom. Now, in verse 2 of Romans 12, Paul is doing far more than just telling us how to be transformed into God’s children; he is exhorting us to carry out that transformation. God does not renew our mind! If God, by decision, simply caused us to be transformed by renewing our mind, we would need to take no action whatsoever. God would simply renew our minds and, as an effect of His action, we would be transformed. If that were how it worked, Paul’s exhortation to us would be useless, senseless, and illogical. No, we are to renew our mind. As we do so day by day, we invariably experience a transformation of character such that we become less and less “conformed to this world.” Paul consistently describes the new man in terms of the behaviour and conduct God expects from him. In fact, wherever Paul raises the subject of the new man, a discussion of a Christian’s proper moral and ethical conduct is never far away. That the theme I wish to explore in the next and last chapter.

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Section Six

OUR DAILY CONDUCT

WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR IN BUSINESS

The philosopher Kierkegaard tells the story of a circus set up on the edge of town. When the tent catches fire, one of the clowns runs to town to get help. The townspeople think he is merely performing and ignore his cry for help. Kierkegaard explains, “They heard him with their eyes.” Yes, other people can “hear us with their eyes.” This is what we mean when we say, “actions speak louder than words.” For instance, people feel loved not by how much we tell them that we love them, but by the simple acts of love that we show them. In a sense, God also “hears us with His eyes” because “faith without deeds is dead.” As a Christian in business, what do your employees, customers, suppliers, etc. “hear with their eyes” when they look at your conduct. In other words, What message does your conduct send to them? Does the message they receive by watching you say that you are “of the world” or it expresses and reveals that you are “of God?” What example, what inspiration are you to the people around you and to those who know you in business? What do you personify in business? What values are you known for? In the religious world, St Francis of Assisi personified the simplicity of Christ and Mother Theresa embodied compassion for the sick and poor. In the political world, Mahatma Gandhi epitomised

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“non-violence” and Mandela is a symbol of humility and reconciliation. In contrast, while the leaders of Enron once typified business brilliance and acumen, yet, when eventually the lead was taken off their actions, these guys turned out to be the epitome of greed, arrogance, and deception in business. Their actions pushed the business to its collapse, ruined investors, and later led them to prison. To their “credit” though, their actions are at the origin of unprecedented regulatory emphasis on Corporate Governance and Integrated Risk Management in many countries and companies. Leaders of the major international banks, investment institutions, and insurance companies that triggered the global financial crisis from which many economies around the globe are struggling to recover can be put in the same mould as the Enron top executives. As Christians in business, we need to embody Christian’s beliefs and values. Our daily conducts must be the visual representation of the character of Christ. This goes beyond the requirement for us to “walk our talk” or to be people of integrity and excellence. It is the essence of our Christian life; a duty we owe to God. He asks us to be the “salt of this earth” and “the light of the world.” To be the “salt” means we must inhibit decay in the world around us and bring in a new meaning to life; to be the re “light” means we must dispel the darkness and illuminate the way so others can see. Sadly, “salt” or “light” is not how nowadays most us Christians can be characterised in the business world. Increasingly, we are the ones who have the poorest reputation in the marketplace with the tendency not to keep our words, with the lack of tolerance and integrity in our dealings, with products or services of bad qualities, with businesses that do not pay bills or fair wages, etc. Even with some of us resorting to the labelling of our businesses “Christian,” it is just rare these days to find a Christian businessperson who, by their conduct, reflects Christ’s qualities.

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Let us agree that a person is not a Christian businessman or woman simply because they have their business listed in a “Christian business directory” or because they have a fish symbol marked on their business cards, stationery, or adverts. They are not Christian businessman or woman because they have “Christian” values listed in their businesses’ mission and values statements. Even non-Christians usually includes things like honesty, integrity, excellence, and customer-service in similar statements. What really should set us apart is our unwavering commitment to honour God in the way we conduct ourselves. We should make sure that our hearts are in the right place; not seeking to glorify ourselves, but primarily to glorify God. Essentially, this means that we should ensure that we do not pursue money and other glories of this world because the love of worldly riches distorts beliefs, corrupt values and conducts, and result in serious grief. Hence, Paul cautions us: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with much pain.” ~I Timothy 6:10 It deserves to be remarked here that the apostle does not say that “money is the root of all evil” nor does he say that it is an evil in itself. It is the “love” of it, the “chase” of it, the “need” of it that is the source of all sorts of evil; of evil conducts such as fraud and lying, of evil values such as arrogance and unkindness, and of evil emotions such as anxiety and sadness. Then, we need to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world so that our faith, our values, our conducts, and our health are not affected nor infected by evil. For this reason, in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us “to seek first the Kingdom of God.” What he meant was that we are to seek above all the peace, the joy and the righteousness that are inherent in the Kingdom of God

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I know, from experience, that, often in desperate situations, it is not easy to maintain values or conducts that honour God. For instance, it is difficult to resist bribing an official in order to keep your business licence that is under threat of withdrawal due to your breach of its conditions. I also know, again from experience, that sometimes it is not simple to put our dreams or enjoyment of money, power, or status in second place because to “seek first the Kingdom of God” is something that does not give us immediate and expected gratifications. The temptation to succumb to the pursuits of the riches of this world is permanent and resilient. Yet, our legacy in business is not determined so much by the success we can achieve as it is in what we stand for, that is, what values characterise us whether we achieve success or not. God does not ask us to become successful businessmen and women at the expense of our identity and destiny as His children. He desires our conduct to reflect His character so that we do not miss His Kingdom. Through our faith in Jesus, we have access to the Holy Spirit who is here to help us to have and display Christ’s character in the way we conduct ourselves in business. This is the essence of a Christian standard of conducts in business or the substance of a Christian business ethics.

C HRISTIAN BUSINESS ETHICS Different people associate the term “ethics” to different notions. For some, it refers to rules for distinguishing between right and wrong such as the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or a code of professional conduct like the Hippocratic Oath: “First of all, do no harm” or a religious creed like the one of Ten Commandments such as “Thou shalt not kill.” For others, it relates to a wise aphorism like a proverb or the saying of Confucius or a simple common sense of behaving. The meaning of “ethics” is hard to pin down and the views many people have about ethics are shaky.

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The difficulty in defining ethics is best illustrated in the replies that the sociologist Raymond Baumhart got when, some years ago, he asked business people: “What does ethics mean to you?” Among their replies were the following:  “Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong.”  “Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs.”  “Being ethical is doing what the law requires.”  “Ethics consists of the standards of behaviour our society accepts.” These replies might be typical of our own. Like the first respondent, many people tend to equate ethics with their feelings. But being ethical is clearly not a matter of following one’s feelings. A person following his or her feelings may retreat from doing what is right. In fact, feelings frequently deviate from what is right. Nor should one identify ethics with religion. Most religions, of course, advocate high moral standards. Yet, if ethics were confined to religion, then ethics would apply only to religious people. But ethics applies as much to the conduct of the atheist as to that of the devout religious person. Religion can set high moral standards and can provide intense motivations for moral behaviour. Ethics, however, cannot be confined to religion nor is it the same as religion. Being ethical is also not the same as following the law. The law often incorporates ethical standards to which most citizens subscribe. But laws, like feelings, can deviate from what is ethical. The old apartheid laws of present-day South Africa are grotesquely obvious examples of laws that deviate from what is moral or ethical. Finally, being ethical is not the same as doing “whatever society accepts.” In any society, most people accept standards that are in fact unethical. Standards of behaviour in society can deviate from what is ethical. An entire society can become ethically corrupt. Nazi Germany is a good example of a morally corrupt society. Moreover,

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destructive personality. Biblical self-love calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves. The ethical rule of thumb regarding self-love is an “inverted” Golden Rule, that is, if we would feel ethically uncomfortable asking another to do a particular act, then we ought not to consent to do it for others. Christian self-love does not condone abuse or servility. Rather, incorporating the concepts of holiness, justice, and love, it produces healthy reciprocal relationships.

Balancing Holiness, Justice, and Love in business A balanced view and practice of biblical ethics requires that holiness, justice, and love be respected equally. If any one of these three primary virtues is allowed to dominate the other two, the “threelegged” stool, which is the Christian business ethics based on character—becomes unstable and will fall. Let us see why. Holiness alone can produce withdrawal from the world, a judgmental attitude toward others by taking pride in one’s holiness, or a grinding legalism, in which rules take precedence over all other considerations. Justice without holiness results in an amoral form of procedural fairness that lacks moral substance. Decision-makers become absorbed in procedural details—for example, time lines, required signatures, waivers—and fail to focus on the deeper rights and duties involved. Only through holy justice can ethical integrity and procedural justice both be ensured. Further, justice alone can produce harshness and rigidity in its application, leaving no place for one to recover and learn from failure. Without holiness, love degenerates into permissiveness. Nearly anything can be justified in the name of love—defamation, price fixing, industrial espionage. Conversely, holiness without love produces unforgiving perfectionism. Who would want to work for a business person who embodies such an ethics? But holy love produces the highest and purest form of integrity and compassion. Finally, love without justice lapses into favouritism and a shortterm perspective. Imagine an employee being given a day off with full 254


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compensation without regard to the perception of partiality by other staff. Justice without love is equally unacceptable. To twist the facts of the prior example, what do we think of business person who always go by the book, never acknowledging exceptional individual circumstances? Such a harsh approach leaves us feeling cold. The Bible is the basic source for the commands we are to obey, the consequences we are to seek, and the characters we are to become as followers of Jesus Christ. Although the Bible’s commands and consequences may be the first things that come to mind when we think about Christian ethics, character is the essential element of Christian ethics. For most of us, the most effective way to become more ethical is probably to give greater attention to how our actions and decisions in business are shaping our character. The best ethical decisions in business and elsewhere are the decisions that shape our character to be more like Jesus.” Ultimately, by God’s grace, we will be like him.

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