Steve Marr Blog

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May 18

Entering Shady Territory

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

From time to time a situation that could compromise a business owner or leader’s moral or ethical compass may become a temptation. These challenges come to all of us. The question is how do we deal with it?

We see an example from scripture when the Pharisees “plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, ‘Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.’” (Matthew 26:”4-5, NIV) If the Pharisees had wanted to be honest and straightforward, they could have taken the Lord into custody any time He was in the temple. After all, the temple guards enforced the priests’ will.  But the scripture tells us they wanted to do this in secret.


My experience tells me that any time people engage in a transaction in secret, except for legitimate competitive reasons, they are more than likely engaged in a compromised situation. You may think some of these transactions don’t matter, but any compromise matters a lot.

When I was in international trade, I had responsibility for some new operations. I was anxious to demonstrate that these new efforts were going to prove profitable quickly. I also had the responsibility for assigning some overhead costs through multiple departments. I placed some costs away from the new operation and assigned them to existing business units with the idea that the new operation would look better than it was actually performing. A manager appropriately challenged me by telling me that I had assigned additional cost to their department. He said that this was incorrect and needed to be adjusted. The conversation convicted me because he was correct, so I made the necessary adjustments. Others may view this as a small matter that had no effect on the overall profitability of the business; however, it was still wrong.

If you wonder whether you are in shady territory, you probably are.

I knew salespeople who embellished a product in an effort to make a sale. Over time the embellishment became downright untruthful and a false representation. We know that the Lord will not and cannot honor anything that does not reflect his holy character.

A lot of business school professors teach ethics today. However, when they teach ethics it turns out to be more situational ethics than ethical principles based in truth. I’ve had conversations with business leaders who walked over the edge and became subject to the situational ethics. My message to them is as Christians we have a moral law giver in our God. Within scripture we have all the information we need to be a businessperson of integrity.

The Pharisees took Jesus into custody in the dead of night because they were afraid what the people might do. Likewise, anytime we feel we need to hide an action means we shouldn’t have done it to begin with. A business colleague convicted me that my accounting practice was wrong and I made the appropriate change. When the Lord convicts you that something needs to come out of darkness into the light, that’s the time to take quick action. If we don’t, one problem leads to another and another and becomes an albatross around our neck.

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Adam Steck said:

Hey Steve,

Thank you for being consistent with the emails and these longer post! I read everyone and often share them with my organization. I need the daily reminder that my business is my mission field! Be encouraged and keep up the good work!
May 18, 2016
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