Do the right thing. Seems easy enough – but is it?
I was in a recent discussion with a friend who was describing the sales culture at his company. He talked about the pressure to routinely cross the line from prudent selling to being outright deceitful in order to achieve the goal.
No doubt there is pressure. It could be personal pressure, a desire to win in the competitive sales environment. Maybe it’s a supervisor who is directly telling you to lie.
And it’s easy to justify the practice, because everyone does it, the customers probably assume you do it, and no one is getting hurt, right?
But is active deceit consistent with living your faith at work?
This is the real world. Doing the right thing doesn’t always seem so clear and easy. Often it feels like a no-win situation. What do we do?
In the book of Daniel we see an excellent case study for how to think and act well in situations like this. Daniel worked in an incredibly secular environment with much conflict between the culture of his work and his faith.
There were things that Daniel went along with (Daniel 1 – most of his training in Babylon), times he proposed a constructive alternative (Daniel 1:12-13), and times when he simply defied what he was being asked to do (Daniel 6:7, 10). Through it all he maintained his integrity.
Here’s a thought process that might help us follow his example:
- Know your values – Integrity starts with a dynamic, abiding relationship with God. His word should inform our values.
- Identify the conflict – What is happening, or what am I being asked to do that is wrong?
- Assess the conflict – Why is this wrong? We have to be clear on this before we are able to really act with faith or boldness, or create a compelling or persuasive alternative.
- Propose alternatives – What are all the possible things I could do in this situation (ranging from ‘do nothing’ to ‘quit’)?
- Evaluate alternatives – Which alternative will enable me to address what is wrong in a way that is most beneficial to most people (regardless of personal cost)?
- Act with faith.
Acting will always require faith, whether you’re withdrawing your support of a proposal that is misleading, proposing an alternative to a deceitful company practice, or quitting your job.
Acting with faith has risk. Sometimes it results in favor with the company and increases your influence. Sometimes it results in losing your status or career track. But we can’t pick and choose when to do the right thing on the basis of whether or not it will result in a temporary positive outcome. That’s not integrity at all.
There is no risk-free way to live a life of faith. But acting with integrity is good – it is an active affirmation of your trust and love in God over temporary personal standing or gain.
The difficulty and pressure of the sales situation we opened this post with is very real, but when we really believe that God has already given us more than we can possibly imagine in Jesus, then we can have the faith and courage to do the right thing, regardless of the cost.