17 August 2015 AD/2 Elul 5775
Wayne Fields, principal of C&F Electrical and I were fellow church members. My business was so new I had not yet purchased business cards. Wayne cautiously asked, “Are you going to put one of those fish on your card?” After my negative response, Wayne expressed his relief, relating how business owners who tout their Christianity on business cards are the ones most likely to be problematical. I listened. I took heed. Not once have I suggested a prospective client do business with me on the basis of my Christianity.
Over three decades of business ownership, my experience agrees with Wayne’s. In recent time, a company openly promoting itself as a benefactor to missions underscored for me the vital importance of differentiating between someone’s religious self-promotion and their particular skill set, honesty and integrity.
When I select my various medical professionals, I inquire about expertise, not religious affiliations. At my age, I don’t have time to experimentally discover who is and who isn’t a good physician, who can and who cannot.
Likewise, my mechanics, tire service company, lawn service and other resources: track record and referrals are everything to me. Building one’s business on referrals depends on honesty and integrity, about these two character qualities, Steven Covey wrote in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People:
Honesty is telling the truth—in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words—in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life”
To be honest is to be truthful about past performance; to be a person or company of integrity is to fulfill or exceed customer expectations. An exercise I use is to ask myself, “What would my performance look like in a court of law?”
Can one rely on the salesman or business owner whose assurance of honesty and integrity lies with pious claims, a ‘fish’ on a business card? I wish it were so, but it’s not. By virtue of the ‘fish’ symbol on the business card or on a marquee, that symbol alone is no assurance of qualifications or integrity.
Of all customers whose paths I cross, church leadership is probably the most gullible, the most susceptible to ‘fishers of business’.
Is my perspective Biblical? Let’s walk through the Bible to see if it is.
- First stop: Acts 5:1-11 where we read about two Christians, Ananias and his wife Sapphira. For a season, they had front-row seats, but their outcome was very unpleasant. Ananias and Sapphira were “fishing” for reputation, possibly to advance their real estate business.
- Second: Acts 8:9-24 Where we learn about Simon Magus, aka Simon the Sorcerer, aka Simon the Magician, a Samaritan religious leader who was baptized by Philip the Evangelist. He seemed to act the part, but after Simon saw how the laying on of hands imparted great power, he wanted to get in on this amazing deal and offered to buy it from Peter and John. Well, that didn’t happen. Peter and John knew in an instant Simon was “fishing” for business.
- Third stop: 1 Corinthians 5:11. The Church at Corinth was very much like just about any neighborhood church today. Its congregation ranged from truly righteous disciples of Jesus Christ to sexual perverts. Contemporary liberal churches that welcome homosexual ‘marriages’ as acceptable come to mind. The Apostle Paul admonished his Corinthian converts to avoid fellowship with fornicators, covetous (greedy), idolaters, railers, drunkards, or extortioners – “with such an one no not to eat“.
Evangelist Keith Green, prolific song singer-writer, fellow Texan, penned these words in his song The Sheep and The Goats that address the issues of honesty and integrity. (Scripture reference Matthew 25:31-46 NLT)
And my friends, the only difference between the sheep
And the goats, according to this scripture
Is what they did and didn’t do
Keith said the most important word in the Bible is the word do.
That fish is no substitute for what the business “did or didn’t do“.