The 5 P's of Ethical Decision-Making
Not long ago I heard author and speaker Lee Strobel give an excellent message on what he called the “5 P’s for making ethical decisions.” I thought his insights would be good to present in “Monday Manna.”
The first P he mentioned is Purpose. When making a challenging decision, it is critical to remember your purpose. If your purpose is to make money, you will often make the wrong decision. However, if your purpose is aligned with biblical principles, your decision will lead to a much different result.
As 1 Corinthians 10:31 teaches, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Everything followers of Jesus Christ do should be for the purpose of glorifying God. When that becomes the motivation behind ethical decisions, difficult workplace decisions become easier.
The second P Strobel cited was Prayer. He stressed the importance of praying about hard decisions, seeking wisdom and guidance. We also should pray, according to Strobel, for the moral conviction and courage to do the right thing. Many times we know the right thing to do, but need the courage to do it.
James 1:5 teaches, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” The next time you face a challenging ethical dilemma, take Strobel’s advice and pray boldly for God’s wisdom, then trust He will provide it.
The third P in Strobel’s list was Principles. He urged his audience to make decisions by testing them against biblical principles. He said 50 percent of ethical decisions are based on emotion. Emotions like fear, greed, or anger can lead to very poor decisions. Pausing to consider how your proposed decision aligns with what the Bible teaches is more productive.
Psalm 119:9 teaches, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” When you face ethical dilemmas, do not let emotions rule. Pause, pray and seek help in God’s Word.
Strobel’s fourth P was People. When faced with a tough decision, do not make it alone. Involving wise, trusted people in your ethical decisions has many benefits, including receiving good counsel, forcing you to be transparent, and adding built-in accountability. For years, I led a small group of CEOs. Many times, regardless of the issue, we found someone with insights that were helpful for arriving at a wise decision.
Proverbs 15:22 teaches, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Being a leader can be lonely at times, but it does not have to be. When faced with a challenging ethical decision, allow other people to be a part of your decision.
The final P was Popular Opinion. However, Strobel took this principle in a different direction. He recommended when confronting a difficult decision, consider what the popular opinion might be – and then be prepared to do the opposite. God is not concerned with what the majority of people think.
In Isaiah 55:9, God teaches, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Ethical decisions based on popular opinion can be disastrous. Be courageous and, if necessary, take God’s opposing path instead, Strobel advised.
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.
1. When faced with a difficult ethical decision, what is the process that you typically follow?
2. What do you think of the principles offered for ethical decision-making?
3. Which of those principles do you think would be most difficult to apply? Do you disagree with any of the principles suggested? Explain your answer.
4. How does seeking the advice of other people you know and trust differ from letting your decision be guided by popular opinion?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 12:15, 24:5-6; Romans 1:21-23; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:17,23; Thessalonians 5:17;
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