When you think about the rules and regulations that affect you in the workplace, whether they are broad-based laws that apply to everyone or statutes that were designed specifically for your industry or profession, how do you deal with them?
Do you comply only to the minimum extent required, choosing to abide strictly to the “letter of the law,” or would you consider the sometimes broader “spirit of the law” – the underlying and sometimes more demanding intent behind it?
For years I have consulted with business and professional leaders, helping them to grasp and understand biblical principles that apply to the everyday marketplace. When I began doing this, it became evident that to avoid the danger of not practicing what I was teaching, I had to do an honest “self-appraisal.” This included examining my life for any past issues that I ignored or had not properly resolved. To be honest, doing this can be humbling and uncomfortable, but I felt it was necessary and important for my integrity as a consultant.
I became convicted about a small, unpaid corporate debt from a previous business I had owned.
Although the financial obligation was corporate, and legally I had no personal responsibility, God made it clear that He wanted all of my business dealings to be beyond reproach.
As a result, I tracked down the business that was still owed money by my former company and sent them a check for the proper amount. The owners were more than surprised – they were amazed. They called not only to thank me but also to tell me that since the debt had been written off and removed from their financial records, they donated the payment to a local church.
Without question, I could have overlooked the unpaid debt. It was a legally constructed corporate entity – a business that no longer existed – that technically owed the money. Since my personal finances were not involved in any way, legally I had no responsibility. That was what the letter of the law would have said. However, as a follower of Jesus Christ, committed to living and working with integrity, I could not use that excuse. The spirit of the law, I knew, would have said differently.
How could I speak with and advise leaders in the workplace about honesty and integrity if I were not willing to hold myself to the same standards?
In the Bible’s New Testament, Ephesians 5:3 teaches, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” God’s standards – as He reveals in the Scriptures – often exceed the law, but if we are to be effective and credible as His ambassadors, it is essential for us to live accordingly.
My purpose is not to put anyone under a guilt trip. However, if God brings to your mind something you have done that should be corrected – or something you need to do – I urge you to follow through on that as soon as possible. Even if it means going beyond what the law requires. You will not regret it.
Copyright 2013, 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. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.
CBMC INTERNATIONAL: Jim Firnstahl, President
2850 N. Swan Road, Suite 160 ▪ Tucson, Arizona 85712 ▪ U.S.A.
TEL.: 520-334-1114 ▪ E-MAIL: [email protected]
1. How do you think most people regard laws and regulations, especially in the workplace? Do they comply with the “bare minimum,” or are they inclined to do what is right – even if not legally required to do so?
2. What about you? Would it depend on the circumstances involved? Why or why not?
3. Would you see any practical business benefit that could come from doing more than you are absolutely mandated to do? If so, what might that be?
4. Where should spiritual convictions fit into such considerations? Do you think this is a spiritual issue at all, or do you think an individual – or company – should simply do as their competitors would do, or according to what everyone else does in their profession or industry? Explain your answer.
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 30:8-9; Matthew 5:20, 23-24; Mark 11:25, 12:30-31; Luke 6:31