As a Christian in business you’re committed to doing what’s right. Doing what’s right is usually pretty clear if you use the Bible as your guide. But if you use your gut, or your head, and sometimes even your heart, it feels more like “that’s not fair“.
One of my clients has a team that has had much tragedy and sickness in the past couple of years. As we talk through each situation, we always end with…”it is only right…” to help, to keep their job open, to give them another chance, to reduce their workload… and so on. This client wants to do what is right. Not just some of the time; all of the time.
I received a text during the middle of a meeting saying, “David just quit.” I had to look down again and make sure I knew who sent the text. Unbelievable. David just received a promotion, 3 raises in the past year, and my client just paid for classes and a license in the past 90 days. When I finally got on the phone with my client and asked if he would be able to stay long enough to train a replacement, my client said he asked. David told him he was sorry but he had to do what was best for him.
Another client has a team of sales people. As you know, sales people usually have a chunk of their income on some kind of sales incentive or variable commission. There is much grey in sales. I can’t begin to tell you how many times this client paid out commission on a low-margin-bad-deal for the company or erred on the side of the salesman when he didn’t understand his compensation plan or complained about it.
In any instance where the company may not have been 100% clear, my client would benefit the employee. He wanted to always do what is right. This same client has had multiple sales people complain that a situation wasn’t fair and had several leave the company claiming they needed to do what was best for them.
Have you ever had one of these situations?
It may be with a vendor, an employee, or a customer. You want to err on the side of integrity, doing what’s right, and what you say you will do, and sometimes just being compassionate and helping someone in a bad place. Over time, after hearing I have to do what is best for me so many times, you begin to wonder if doing what’s right is just you being delusional. Or stupid. Or a poor business person.
I know I have personally wondered, what I am doing wrong? When you have many situations over a lifetime that have little reward, and sometimes even feel like punishment, you wonder if doing what is right is really right at all.
I met with a client for 3 years. He is in a similar line of business. We processed many of his clients not treating him right as their coach and counselor. Over the years he shared frustrations of missed meetings, constantly changing schedules, and long-term client relationships ending abruptly. One weekend he sent me an email saying he needed to take a break from coaching. No phone call. No last meeting. No explanation. As much as the irony was pushing me to call him out on it, my heart, and probably the Holy Spirit, told me to let it go. Do what is right. Be gracious and encouraging. So I did.
I personally, and many clients, have:
- Kept an employee on through a long-term illness and treatment to have them quit within 90 days of getting better to pursue an opportunity that was best for them.
- Paid a vendor full price after they missed every deadline and caused a serious impact to the business.
- Had a client wait until the latest possible time to ask for service, jump through hoops to make it happen, to have the client cancel the order at the last minute.
- Split the cost of a vendor mistake with the vendor.
- Gone into partnership with someone who didn’t live up to their portion of the deal, but you did because someone had to do the work.
Honestly, the list goes on and on. Sometimes the other person knows they are being selfish and feels a little bad for all you have done for them; sometimes they are not even aware. And yes, probably in some cases they don’t care.
(One disclaimer: Sometimes it is the right thing to hold an employee or vendor accountable. That is different than making an excuse to not do the right thing.)
Doing What’s Right May Not Feel Fair
As a Christian in business what are we to do? I can pull a bunch of verses from the Bible, but you have read it. As Christians, we are called to:
- Let our yes be yes and our no be no; always walk with integrity.
- Forgive 70 * 7 times.
- Care for the sick and needy.
- Be generous and giving.
- Work things out without legal intervention.
- Love others as Jesus loves you.
- Pray for others, even your enemies.
There is nowhere in the Bible that it says only do what is right if it feels right or fair. Nor does it say only do what is best for you. And it definitely doesn’t say only do right if the other person does right.
As a matter of fact, God pretty much promises us that living in this world will be toil. That this part of eternity is fraught with the influence of the evil one and is full of sin and iniquity.
We have to remember that we are called to be light in the world. We are called to a higher standard, and if we are to glorify God, we have to rise above what feels right or fair and just be obedient to Jesus and His ways. No excuses. No claiming lack of biblical clarity. The list above is quite clear.
You may feel like you will never see the reward on this side of Heaven, but that isn’t true.
You have the reward here and now.
You have Jesus.