MSG- “Blessings accrue on a good and honest life, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse. Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed.”
In doing research for this post, I came across a quote I felt was applicable to this passage:
”Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” — Thomas Jefferson
I love that quote by Thomas Jefferson and it is so applicable when discussing the book of Proverbs. Honesty and integrity need to be the basic building blocks and the foundation for anyone conducting business. Nobody wants to be affiliated with a person who lies, cheats, tricks people, etc.
Recently, I was chatting with someone who was sharing with me their frustrations regarding a competitor that they know is not conducting business morally. This particular business owner has inherited a reputation within the industry for lying, cheating and, essentially, stealing from his customers. However, his customers haven’t picked up on that reputation yet. And as a result, to make things worse, he has had some short-term success as a result of these deceiving actions. And to add even more to the person’s frustrations that I was talking to, this gentleman is attempting to bring his competitors down by spreading lies about them in order to make himself appear better.
I was getting fired up just listening to that story. Definitely felt for the guy. Sometimes as someone who is striving to conduct business morally, it can seem flat-out unfair, especially when it seems like you are getting beat by the person acting without integrity. It may even be tempting to move to the other side since it seems to be working. My suggestion is to remember the passage above during these times. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people in the business world who are willing to strive for success by bypassing honesty and integrity. The Bible talks about how you reap the seeds you sow. If you sow negative actions, you’ll eventually reap negative results. Likewise, if you steadfastly remain firm, sowing good seeds, God promises blessings.
Business Ethics vs. Honesty and Integrity
We hear the phrase business ethics. Every organization seems to have something about it in their mission, vision or value statements. Conducting business with honesty and integrity goes way deeper than simply acting “ethical”, though. In my opinion, practicing business ethics doesn’t go far enough. There is way too much grey area. In my eyes, there is right and there is wrong. If God’s Word is your foundation (like mine is), then the difference between right and wrong should more times than not be black and white. There is no grey area with God.
As we are conducting business, my advice is that we take a step back and ask ourselves these three questions:
1. Am I treating my clients and employees the way I would like to be treated?
We all learned the golden rule when we were kids: treat others as you yourself would want to be treated. You wouldn’t want to be lied to or cheated against. We expect others to be honest in working with us. We should do the same to others.
2. Do I have to rationalize business decisions?
If we have to convince ourselves that doing something is okay, then it probably isn’t okay. God blessed each of us with a conscience that helps us decide between right and wrong. If we are struggling with a decision because our conscience is leading us in one direction but we want to go in the other direction, we may be rationalizing.
3. Do I do what I say I am going to do?
Our word is our bond. One of my favorite quotes is this:
“If you lose your money, you’ve lost nothing. If you lose a friend, you’ve lost something. If you lose your word, you’ve lost everything.”
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Simple as that.
Bonus question: Next time you are in a “sticky” situation and struggling with what to do, ask yourself this: Will I be able to sleep well tonight as a result of my decision?
Remember, one day we will have to answer to someone higher. In addition, the message above in verse 6 is that God’s blessings accrue on a good and honest life. There are a lot of people out there in the business world who claim to be practicing honesty and integrity but not enough living it out. My hope is that we can all aim to make honesty and integrity core principles in our business practices. Talk is cheap. Let’s strive to live them out.