Monday Manna

The Salesperson’s Dilemma

By Rick Boxx
• December 5, 2022

Many salespeople have told me a similar story. When the pressure to produce rises, they begin hearing their bosses instruct them, “If you get someone on the phone, tell them whatever you have to in order to close the sale.” In essence, these salespeople are commanded to lie to gain customers.

This creates a dilemma for those who desire to live out their faith with integrity and without compromising. They ask themselves, “Do I lie, or do I do the right thing and risk losing my job?”

Without a doubt, this is not a comfortable situation to be in. It would be easy to justify doing what they have been told. “After all, I need this job to earn a living.” But when striving to integrate our faith into our workplace responsibilities and demands, we need to consider what the Bible has to say.

For instance, in the Old Testament book of Proverbs we find many encouragements for being truthful – and warnings about the consequences of dishonesty. Proverbs 20:17 cautions, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.” Does that sound appealing? Another verse tells us, “What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar” (Proverbs 19:22).

On the other hand, Proverbs 10:9 declares, “A man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” A lie or even a misrepresentation of what we are able to do for a customer might give us temporary success, but deceit has a way of being discovered.

The Bible is filled with wisdom for how we should approach compromising and unethical situations. Consider just a few of the truths and promises we find in Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount:

Who are you really working for? As Christ’s followers, we report to an authority higher than whoever our boss might be. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Manna” (Matthew 6:24). A good question to ask ourselves is, “Who am I ultimately serving?”

God’s faithful provision. After this stern admonition, Jesus gave this assurance to His followers: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 25-34).

Ours for the asking. When tempted to lie to close a sale, we are relying on our own initiative rather than trusting in the timely response of God. Rather than lying or stretching the truth, why not pray and ask God for His direction? Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knows, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8)

When tempted to bend under pressure, it is important to remember that long-term customers are looking for someone steadfast and honest. It is better to earn less in the short-term, or lose a potential sale, than to become known as a liar. Regardless of the cost, stand firm in truth!

Copyright 2022, Unconventional Business Network. Adapted with permission from “UBN Integrity Moments”, a commentary on faith at work issues. Visit UBN is a faith at work ministry serving the international small business community.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever been in a situation where your boss – the person to whom you were reporting – encouraged or even pressured you to “tell them whatever you have to in order to close the sale”? If so, how did you respond? What were factors you considered?

2. What does lying to or deceiving a customer say about the quality of our faith in God and our trust in His promises? How does this affect our witness as ambassadors for Christ in the marketplace?

3. Can you think of a time when you thought, “Well, I know that is what the Bible teaches, but this is the real world. It is dog-eat-dog out here, and we must do whatever is necessary to succeed”? What are your thoughts about this kind of rationale now?

4. How would it make a difference in how we approach each workday if we reminded ourselves at the start that God is the One we must honor, that He promises to provide for our every need, and whenever we pray to Him for guidance He will readily give it to us?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Proverbs 12:19,22, 13:6, 14:5, 16:11, 19:5, 20:25, 24:26; Colossians 3:17,23-24