For many people these days, truth is treated as an optional commodity, like deciding what kind of fruit or brand of canned goods to buy at the grocery store. It is a matter of personal choice – or so they say.
“True for you, but not for me.” I was stunned to hear a commercial airline pilot say this, apparently believing that truth was subjective and simply based on what one feels is right. I wondered, how could a seasoned airline captain make such a statement, knowing that his life – as well as the lives of his passengers – were dependent on his ability to make correct decisions based on absolute truth?
For instance, when dealing with an in-flight emergency or flying on instruments while attempting a low-visibility approach, there is absolutely no room for error. Truth, in such circumstances, is not a matter of multiple choice. Nonetheless, I have found that he is not alone. We live in a world where more people than not believe that there are no absolute truths, that everything is relative.
Years ago, my friend, Col. Nimrod McNair, said: “Fritz, the principles of business that Harvard Graduate School of Business teach that actually work are biblically based.” He proceeded to explain that does not necessarily mean the Harvard Graduate School professor know that. He also noted they teach many principles that do not work. Nonetheless, he said, “Truth is truth, no matter where you find it,” and if an individual applies those principles, he or she should expect certain results.
I have never forgotten my friend’s words, and through the years, by observation, I have put his premise to the test. For 30 years I worked for a company I believed had been blessed with good management. In time I realized their success could be attributed to operating according to three basic principles: Stay out of debt; take care of your employees and staff; and take care of your customer. Whether they knew it or not, all three of these principles are firmly anchored in the Bible’s teachings. Unfortunately, the last CEO before my retirement changed the course of the company. As he systematically abandoned these principles, the fortunes of the company fell, eventually leading the company into bankruptcy.
It has been very enlightening to observe leadership at all levels, whether a husband and father guiding his own family, or a president or CEO leading a major company or even a country. As the ones I observed put these principles into practice, they achieved a certain level of success. It really made no difference what their personal beliefs were or what views they held about religious faith. Once again, as my friend Nimrod said, “Truth is truth, no matter where you find it.”
I must admit most of the failures and grief I have personally experienced can be attributed to the violation of principles and precepts that are either clearly stated or implied by example in the Scriptures.
When Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, asked Jesus of Nazareth if He was a king, Jesus replied, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” Sadly, Pilate skeptically replied, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38). That same unfortunate question is one many people continue to ask today.
Consider the importance of that question: Is there absolute truth? In determining whether something is true or not, what serves as your frame of reference? On another occasion, Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Are He and the Bible your source of truth?
William “Fritz” Klumpp served as a pilot with the U.S. Navy, including numerous combat missions during the Vietnam War, is a former commercial airline pilot, real estate executive, and former Executive Director of CBMC.
1. What is truth? How would you define it, especially in terms of what you have experienced and put into practice at work?
2. In the debate between “relative truth” and absolute truth, what is your perspective? Has what you have read in this edition of “Monday Manna” challenged your thinking at all? Explain your answer.
3. When determining to make an important decision – based on truth – what source or sources do you rely on? Have there been any occasions when you have thought or said, “That may be true for you, but not for me”? If so, explain the circumstances.
4. Based on your understanding of the Bible and its teachings, what principles have you found most important – or most useful – in how you conduct yourself in the workplace, or how you operate your business? What correlation, if any, do you see between truth and wisdom?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Psalm 25:5-5; Proverbs 1:7, 2:6, 3:13-15, 15:33, 16:16; Zechariah 8:16-17; John 8:31-32,16:13