Tension 3: People Needs and Profit Obligations :
A close friend of mine with a bleeding heart for the down and out almost sank his company by hiring highly needy, incompetent people. Painfully, he had to decide whether he was called to run a rescue mission or a for profit company.
“The tensions in carrying out a philosophy of employment empowerment are clear: Christianity requires unconditional and redemptive love. Fiduciary obligations and the needs of the corporations’ internal society require a disciplined view to the bottom line as well…It is the paradoxical nature of Christian thought itself that intervenes and helps the seeker walk a tight course between serving employees and being subservient to financial necessities.” 2
Pat Morley seems to have found a balance between these two tensions in his corporate mission statement: (1) Create a customer by solving client problems, (2) Earn a profit, (3) Provide our people – our associates – with an opportunity to fully express their potential.” 3
Clearly the Scriptures guide us on the treatment of others: “… In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you… And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him ” (Matt. 7:12b; Eph. 6:9). (See Deut. 24:15, 16; Job 31:13-15; Jer. 22:1; Col. 4:1)
Here is how several business leaders addressed the idea of serving the needs of their employees:
Numerous CEO’s interviewed by Dr. Laura Nash 1 stressed the importance of “empowerment , dignity, and the actualization of human potential [that] validates CEO’s application of the parable of the good steward from the Gospel of Luke: Changing from the stewardship of things to the stewardship of lives.” 4 (See Lk. 16:1 – 12; 19:15-19; 1 Cor. 4:2; Tit. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10) Others felt the need “to personally treat employees as human beings rather than as cogs in a money machine (the attitude), and to dignify employees by providing them opportunities to develop skills to accomplish meaningful jobs (the action)”. 5
Jack Turpin, former chairman of Hall-Mark Electronics: “ We have a responsibility as heads of companies to make sure people grow. I hope not just in their career, but in their relationship with God, hopefully in their relationship with Christ, and in their career and their family .” 6
CHALLENGE :To manage the two tensions, and to satisfy biblical imperatives, I would suggest business leaders follow James’ sage advice: “ If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (Jms. 1:5). He will know he is on track, wisdom wise, when the culture in his company mirrors the values found in James 3:17.
This week may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.
R. Dwight Hill
1In this series, we will be drawing heavily from Dr. Laura Nash’s book, Believers in Business,”Thomas Nelson, Publishers 1982 – 2Ibid, p.133; 3Ibid p. 127; 4Ibid p. 132; 5Ibid p. 131; 6Ibid p. 136 –Views: 41