© Copyright 2001, By Jan Wallen
Honesty in business is talked about in many businesses and at
all levels of business, from the mom-and-pop neighborhood store
to large corporations. It sounds good: "We conduct an honest
and ethical business."
It's a great PR statement and one that we hear constantly from
all types of businesses. What many of them are really saying is
that we should do business with them because they are honest and
we can trust what they are telling us in their sales materials
and advertising. All too often, this statement of honesty is
merely part of the business' marketing strategy used in an
attempt to create credibility with the largest number of
At the root of the problem is the fact that civil and legislative
authorities, which govern the conduct of business in our society,
establish the codes, regulations and laws. These rules of law
are based on practical economic and legal ethical standards and
have nothing to do with the application of Christian or moral
standards. You can operate completely within the law and still
cheat, mislead and otherwise perform dishonest acts.
But what does this really mean? For example a Christian views
honesty and ethical behavior as a foundation of the Christian
life. In other words, Christians try to live the example
through observing and applying God's Commandments. This means
complete truth in all things. It also incorporates the idea of
treating others as you want them to treat you.
For Christian business people, these truths are not just some
nice sounding words, but are to be lived out in our daily
behavior and actions. Do all Christians set this example in
their business life? Sadly, many do not. They become lost in
the lure of achieving success in their business while losing
sight of the true meaning of honesty in business dealings.
Honesty is more than something we talk about on Sunday when
we are in church but is a reality that must be lived out in
our daily life regardless of where we are.
Most have good intentions; they do not set out to cheat or lie
in order to gain an economic advantage. As long as they stay
within the bounds of the legal limits, many feel they are being
honest. It is okay to exaggerate or mislead if you do not
actually lie. It is ok to hide consumer information in fine
print that no one reads.
But this is the standard set by the world and our society. Honesty
in business dealings means exactly that. When a person reads
sales materials, the expectation should be that the claims are
truthful, not exaggerated and that the business will provide the
promised product or service just as described. A Christian
businessperson aspires to higher standards. He knows that he has
a responsibility to his customers to treat them fairly and as he
himself would expect to be treated. Anything less is dishonesty
by Christ's standards.
A Christian's word is his bond. As a Christian businessperson,
your word is your bond. Sales materials and all advertising
claims are a direct and concrete form of your word. As an honest
businessperson, you cannot ignore true honest behavior in any
aspect of your daily and business life. There is no substitute
for the truth, and there is never a justification for bending the
truth or for "little white lies." Remember that hiding the truth
through omission is the same as a direct lie. Little white lies
do not stay "little" very long and can lead to disaster in your
personal or business life.
Honest dealings in business include many things such as offering
a good product or service at a fair price. You must strive to
offer value to the customer for their hard earned money. You have
an obligation beyond what the law requires to care for and pay
your employees in a fair manner. You must always put the customer
Is this always easy, or the least expensive way to conduct
business? No, but as a Christian, this is the "only" way to
As Paul wrote in his letter to the churches in Galatia:
Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or
am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please
men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
So what is the honest way to conduct business? It is really quite
* Apply sound and proven Christian principles in your
relationships with customers and your employees.
* Give value for money spent
* Meet all promised warranties and guarantees
* Be truthful in advertising and promotions
* Always tell the truth
* Treat others as you would like to be treated
Will this assure business success and earning a fortune? No, not
by themselves. But being a Christian and living as a Christian
is the true path to success in life or business, As a true
Christian, this is your only option.
Jan Wallen is the owner of http://www.StraightPaths.com/ a site dedicated to helping Christian business people conduct their businesses based on Christian principles. Her free bi-monthly newsletter, the Straight Paths Ezine, is filled with sensible, practical advice to help you in the work place. Subscriptions are available by visiting her website or you may send a blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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