I’ve been working on a topic for some time now regarding the state of ethics in the marketplace and government leadership. As a subscriber to CBMC International’s Monday Manna weekly observations regarding issues in the marketplace I enjoy their weekly articles on matters germain to Christians in the marketplace. This week, Rick Boxx, a frequent contributor expressed well what I’ve been working to put together. Upon receiving his permission to reproduce this piece here, I am making it available to all who take time to read my musings. I hope you’ll take time to read this insightful obseration.
MONDAY MANNA – A service to the business community July 13, 2009
DESPERATELY IN NEED OF AN ETHICAL ‘BAILOUT’
By: Rick Boxx
Adversity often has a way of bringing out the worst in people. The ongoing global economic challenges have served to expose the depths of our moral depravity. We have heard and read numerous instances in which financial calamity has resulted in unethical and immoral behavior. When markets collapse, people become understandably anxious and want to regain any money they have lost. But this does not excuse fraud and deceitful activity – the end does not justify the means. In seeking to find solutions to the economic recession, government leaders have proposed – and in some cases instituted – financial “bailouts,” providing huge amounts of funds to sustain various industries. It is my belief, however, that instead of a financial bailout, what we need most is an ethical bailout.
Whether it has been the subprime loan crisis, elected officials selling political favors, or an internationally known financial advisor allegedly duping some of the wealthiest people in the world in an elaborate investment scheme, the fundamental underlying issue for each these scandals has been the same: a chronic lack of integrity. At its essence, integrity is an outward manifestation of inner character. What we do – and how we do it – reflects who we really are on the inside. Sadly, strong character is not something that can be learned through curriculum while pursuing an MBA at a top business school. And we do not find character among the required categories listed on a top executive’s curriculum vitae. It is a quality that must be cultivated over time.
Some factors, however, can help to develop and sustain true integrity. One of them is a healthy dose of fear. Unfortunately, many of our most prominent business and professional leaders no longer fear the law, their customers, or even their own conscience. They have grown calloused, hardened, to revered, time-tested values such as honesty, trustworthiness, quality and excellence. All that matters for them are their own selfish goals.
What will it take to bail out our morality, to restore a climate of high ethical standards in the 21st century marketplace? Let me suggest that we consult an ancient, yet timeless resource – the Bible. In its pages we find an unlimited supply of wisdom and guidance for working and living in a consistent, forthright manner that keeps everyone’s best interests in the forefront.
Proverbs 16:6, found in the Bible’s Old Testament, provides a good start. It says, “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” Many of us have lost “the fear of the Lord,” the conviction that God holds us accountable for our actions.
There is another important aspect to “the fear of the Lord” that can help in restoring a strong ethical environment in the workplace. We read in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” In a world of growing uncertainty and unpredictability, who could not use more wisdom and knowledge? This is one of the great promises God makes to those who follow Him.
Do you see people in your workplace who have become desensitized morally and ethically? Pray for them to discover the fear of the Lord and the need to atone for their immorality. Only God can provide an ethical bailout.
Copyright 2009, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. For more information about receiving Integrity Moments in their e-mail box, write to: rboxx@IntegrityMoments.com and type “subscribe” in the subject line or visit his website, www.IntegrityResource.org.
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1. During the recent economic downturn, have you observed people bending, or even breaking, ethical barriers? What would be an example of what you have seen – or have even been tempted to do yourself?
2. Do you agree with the contention by Rick Boxx that even more than a financial bailout, many of today’s workplace leaders are in need of an ethical bailout?
3. If it were up to you, what steps would you put in place for restoring high ethical and moral standards in the business and professional world?
4. How would regaining “the fear of the Lord” affect ethical behavior in the marketplace, if at all, in your opinion? Is that even a realistic expectation? Explain your answer.
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 10:9, 11:1, 11:3, 13:6, 15:27, 19:5; Luke 12:42-48, 16:10-13; Philippians 4:8-9