NIV – “My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.”
The Message – “Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you, don’t go along with them.”
This Proverb is important and applicable for businesspeople in today’s world. Unfortunately, in the society we live in, there are people out there (not everyone) participating in business practices the average person wouldn’t consider ethical. They may not be doing anything illegal by the government’s standards but just because it’s not illegal doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. It can be easy today to go with the crowd that may not be making wise decisions but we, as Christians in a business world full of non-believers, need to be leaders in holding ourselves to the highest standards.
Since I am in sales, I’ll use that as my example. I’ve noticed two unethical sales methods from my time so far in the business world. First, there’s the salesperson who takes the negative approach by attacking and bad-mouthing their competitor’s products and services they offer. This just never turns out well for anyone. Wouldn’t it be more valuable to spend our time promoting how we are personally able to fill the customer’s needs?
Second, I’ve seen a tendency in the sales world to exaggerate one’s products and services. I’ve seen this on several occasions from exaggerated selling points and reasons why the customer should purchase a product to overpromising lead times. Plain and simple, this is being dishonest to the customer. While it may be possible to succeed in closing the sale in the short-term, many times we suffer long-term consequences, as a result. If we sow good seeds that honor God, a harvest will come. If those seeds we are sowing are bad, we won’t like the weeds that we reap. Also, as a side note: we can save ourselves from some awkward and difficult conversations with customers by just being honest in the first place.
While I used a few examples from sales, think about the situations you are exposed to on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Whether you are an entrepreneur or employee in the ________ (input your own) industry. We all see activities happen that aren’t considered wise by the Bible’s standards. Jesus talks about being salt and light to the world in Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see you good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
While in this passage Jesus talks about being salt and light to the entire world, what ways can we, as believers, strive to be salt and light to the business world of 2012? We need to ask ourselves frequently, “Do I have honesty and integrity in 100% of my business practices?” In a world where business dealings exist that don’t honor God, let’s make a decision to stand out from the crowd and choose to have honesty and integrity in 100% of our business dealings.