Many universities and corporate trainers teach business ethics from a perspective sometimes referred to as “moral relativism.” This basically means they do not believe in objective truth; to them, truth is in the eye of the beholder. As a result, according to this way of thinking, whatever an individual regards as right is good enough.
Personally, I disagree with this philosophy. If truth is something we can mold and shape according to our desires and preference, then the person that conducts business in an unscrupulous, predatory manner is as “ethical” as the individual that seeks to uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity.
The Bible describes this type of belief system when it states, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Even thousands of years ago, people rejected the existence of objective truth. This is not a “modern,” 21st century concept.
As an employer, even if we do not subscribe to moral relativism, it is important to remember everyone has their own worldview, and they live and act according to it. For instance, if they are self-absorbed, they will likely make decisions and act according to what benefits them most. If they make decisions based on family values they have learned, that could be good – or it could be bad. What if you discover too late that they were raised by mobsters, swindlers or criminals? You might not like those “family values” being brought into your company!
Although you cannot change or modify the worldviews of individual employees, you can seek to clearly communicate the “worldview” by which you want your business or department to be run. This is where mission statements, vision statements and value statements are extremely useful. They put on paper the standards, policies, overall goals and objectives the company desires to achieve and maintain.
These statements express your beliefs, the foundational principles that govern your practices, offer the “big picture” of what you hope to accomplish, and verbalize truth as your company perceives it.
A big question facing many of us in the business and professional world today is one that was raised by Pontius Pilate, who served as judge at the trial of Jesus before His crucifixion. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). He was suggesting truth – and the “right” worldview – is whatever one wants it to be.
However, my experience has taught me that if everything is true, then nothing is true. I have learned the only objective truth that is time-tested and will help you in standardizing and solidifying your company values is the Bible. Psalm 119:152 teaches, “Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.” Many other verses in that Psalm also affirm the enduring, unchanging truths, precepts and principles established in the Word of God.
If you desire to oversee or be part of an ethical workplace, I recommend you establish a worldview that lasts forever, one that does not change according to the need of the moment or shifting whims of society. The Scriptures provide the only source for that. They worked well in the 1st century – and they are good for the 21st century as well.
Copyright 2012, 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.
1. What are your thoughts about “moral relativism”? How would you define “truth”?
2. How do you think a person’s worldview affects how they work and approach their business responsibilities?
3. Does your company have a mission statement, or expressions of its values or vision in written form that are available to employees? If so, what impact – if any – do they have on how everyone sees their role in the company? If not, do you think such tangible, verbalized statements would be of value? Why or why not?
4. Mr. Boxx states the Bible should be the ultimate source of objective, time-tested truth? Do you agree? Explain your answer.
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Psalm 19:7-11, 119:9-11, 33-37, 105; Proverbs 11:3, 13:6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12
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