Business Etiquette and God Where Does God Fit In? Andrew Estep Liberty University Abstract This paper uses scripture from the Bible and many other credible sources to instruct the reader about the role God plays within business etiquette. The research targets business interactions from a Christian’s perspective. Many of the references used in this paper, have at some point or another, run or are running a legitimate company. The research conducted by each person comes from personal experience and other well established sources.
If examined together, the writings of these authors coincide with one another and the word of God. All the research points to single thesis; God should be in the middle of our daily lives and especially our jobs. Also, in order to truly grasp the full meaning of living a Christ centered life, deeper learning and understanding is required. Tying God and etiquette together is essential for a Christian person aspiring to be a businessman or businesswoman. Within business etiquette, there lie many know how’s, why’s and what for’s. Business etiquette consists of mannerisms and ways of doing business appropriately.
Without a standard of etiquette which is acceptable by all cultures and all peoples, business etiquette would become chaotic. Every group, language, and person would define their own ways, which if you are not happy with, too bad. Of course,etiquette varies slightly from one country and culture to another, but these variations are minor and if studied at a slightest bit would be easy to remember for future references. If asked, “What is business etiquette? ” Most people would respond with something like this, “how to eat right, how to sit right, how to talk right, and how to dress right. This is correct to a certain extent but business etiquette requires a little more performance from an individual practicing it. If one truly wants to understand why and how etiquette is conducted, they must simply take a little more time in learning etiquette and maybe even researching the history for why things are done the way they are. Now, let us say one inquires as to how God and Christianity fit into business etiquette? In order to answer this inquiry, one must understand that business etiquette is a lot more intricate then the common thoughts it is associated with.
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Being a well mannered business person requires class and style which do not come with ease. These attributes are learned and practiced daily. Etiquette, if honest and real, can truly show a person’s heart. Real etiquette is seen from the outside and the inside of a person. Motives, thoughts, ideals, and character alike are the catalysts for the beginnings of a “type” of person. If the heart is pure, the man will be pure also, but if the heart is deceitful, so will be the man. Proverbs tells us, “A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him. (New International Version, 2005)This paper will explore the different levels of doing business etiquette from a Christian perspective. A Christian is held to a higher standard, not necessarily by men, but rather by God. As a Christian, we are called to be lights in this world and to live for God’s glory so that he might be pleased with us. C. S Lewis tells us, “For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. ”(Lewis, 2001) Since Christians are called to a higher standard, etiquette must be broken down even further and needs to include the minute details of life.
These details include; rapports, money, walk with God, life perspective, choices, building a reputation and lastly our goals; not necessarily in that order. These seven categories are not the only areas involved with Christian etiquette, but rather seven of many. This paper will focus on these attributes and explain how Christianity and etiquette can be tied together in order to become Christian business etiquette. Within the human society and the world, a name is one of the most important aspects of a person, place, or thing.
When speaking of a name, the prettiness of the names is not what is being discussed here, but rather what one thinks about the object or person being described. “Reputation and name are often linked, like hand and glove. There is value in a name. ”(Pollard, 2006) To better understand the meaning of this, here are a few names; Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ivan the Terrible, Enron, and Al-Qaida. On the opposite spectrum we have Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr. , C. S. Lewis, Gandhi, World Peace Organization, and Compassion International.
Each one of these names has a deeper meaning associated with them. Hitler and Stalin were mass murderers, Enron was a cheating company and Al-Qaida is a terrorist funding organization. On the other hand Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr. , and Gandhi were and are people of noble character, World Peace organization speaks for itself and Compassion International is a light for children globally. The name of a person or an organization will either make them or break them. Proverbs says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (New International Version, 2005) A name becomes what it is by the way it is lived out. The individual or the company with the name cannot define its reputation, for it is the people around them who are the judges. The individual or the company can lead the direction of the people’s thoughts by how he or it acts. An evil person will be deemed evil, and a righteous person will be deemed righteous. William Pollard says, “What’s in our name? A rich heritage and legacy of the past and also a purpose and direction for the future. It is both valuable and fragile. It can be used or abused.
It is an intangible asset of the firm. ”(Pollard, 2006) Here Pollard is speaking of the company he once ran which can also be applied to a human name. Within business etiquette, if your name is already in shambles, the person whom you are trying to relate with will want nothing to do with you. This is why the Bible says in Ephesians, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. ”(New International Version, 2005) A character who makes a name for themselves is usually a person who contains many great attributes.
Most of all, he is a person who has learned for themselves the value of life and the secret of joyful living. The great thing about being a Christian, is knowing what one is working for and why. Let’s clarify though, that a Christian does not attain salvation by works, but rather by a relationship with Christ. Once a person becomes a Christian, they learn and want to be workmen for Christ Jesus. Ephesians says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ”(New International Version, 2005) As a Christian then, it is important to work for God and His glory.
A true believer would find joy in the workrather than it being a nuisance. There is a saying that if you enjoy your job, you’ll never work another day. Many people do not have such an attitude about their job and this negativity can be very unhealthy in a workplace. David Stewards says, “That kind of thinking not only makes work boring and tedious, it causes stress and sometimes leads to health problems. In addition, a negative person in the workplace can hurt the morale of coworkers. The negative effect can extend to customers and vendors. (Stewards, 2004) As can be seen, negativity in a workplace can have far more reaching effects then realized. Within business etiquette, how a person carries themselves and displays their demeanor is a crucial know-how. By displaying the joy of work, one can usually spread the ‘joy bug’ to the coworkers around them. Another way people view work is as deadlines, tedious tasks, large projects and just another paycheck. When viewed that way, it is impossible for work not to seem awful. One author says, “Beauty inspires hope, and provides a reason for seeing differently.
Business can be beautiful, which is part of the reason it so engages our lives and imagination. ”(Costa, 2005) Christians are meant to find joy in work, despite the type of work that it is. Gains and losses can apply for more than just capital, money and profits. Every time a decision to act in one way or another is made, it affects a gain or a loss in our standings with others. One author has described these standings as a spiritual capital account. Ken Eldred proposed an account like a bank account which can grow or shrink with deposits or withdrawals. The spiritual capital currency that is deposited (or withdrawn) is the exercise (or lack of exercise) of biblical principles: integrity, accountability, honesty, hope, love, trust, stewardship, fairness, order, loyalty, service, and so forth. ”(Eldred, 2005) Christian businessmen, as stated earlier are held to a higher standard and are called to be leaders within their workplace. This is how business builds a good rapport with their customers. Even if this does not help them to get ahead in their financial standing, it helps them increase in their popularity standings.
It is not always easy to do the right thing, and it is also not always easy to know what the right thing is. This is why God has instilled us with that all so small little voice (Holy Spirit) which speaks and guides us. Steward says, “Let’s give credit where credit is due. What people call a gut feeling isn’t what they think. I believe what we label an innate response is actually spiritually inspired. ”(Steward, 2004) In business, people have to make quick choices on their feet, and it is important to make the right choices. Etiquette is about saying the right things at the right time so as to be competent or at least appear that way.
We are to be diligent in what and how we say or approach people. The book of James says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ”(New International Version, 2005) Money is yet another important topic, but one might wonder how money relates to etiquette. The society runs on money. Money is the fuel that makes our world go round and round. The way a Christian spends, makes, and views money reflects that persons understanding of its purpose.
It also reflects on how he views his job, why he works and how hard he works. “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. ”(New International Version, 2005) Christians are called to give freely for everything we have comes from the Lord. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. ”(New International Version, 2005) A Roman Catholic Priest named Paoli had associated money with grace. It probably could not be better explained then in the terms Paoli has provided. “Money represents an exchange of potentialities that depends on trust and circulates hope.
None of us create money. We may earn and grow it, but like grace it is a value that exists beyond any one of us – that we participate in without any particular merit, and that ultimately passes through us. ” (Costa, 2005) Money provides security; it gives hope to some and ideas of grandeur to others. When money is scarce, despair starts setting in, stress amounts, and pressures build allowing for fear to dominate the life. For a Christian, money is a tool for God’s purpose, and a Christian should not be afraid of finance shortages.
By being an example in the workplace and by showing good stewardship of money, a person can have great influence on the coworkers in the workplace. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? ”(New International Version, 2005) Just as for any business man or company, increasing personal or shareholder wealth is the most important aspect of business.
In order to attain this goal of any successful company, strategic vision is an essential element. “A strategic vision thus points an organization in a particular direction, charts a strategic path, and molds organizational identity. ”(Thompson, Strickland & Gamble, 2007) For a Christian, a strategic vision comes from the Lord. Christians are called to follow God in all that they do with a mind set and understanding that God has the best plans for them. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ”(New International Version, 2005) God is a God of love, and he wants the best for his people. If the people come to him and just ask, He will provide for them and share with them His thoughts. “For God to do the outrageous through us, we need to be in agreement with Him and have a clear vision of where we are going. We need to identify how God is working to further His Kingdom so that we can pull in the same direction. ”(Eldred, 2005) Without this vision, the people are like sheep stranded in the wilderness without direction or a way back home. A mission statement is what defines a company, but without a vision, there can be no mission.
Every mission has an end goal; this end goal is the vision being discussed. When it comes to leading people, vision is a necessity. “I strongly believe that in order to lead, one must have a vision. It’s the vision that provides the leader and his organization with direction. The lack of a vision is akin to raveling across the country with no roadmap and no destination. As a result, you turn in this direction, then go that way, meandering everywhere. ”(Steward, 2004) Here is a very important question when it comes to being aligned with God’s vision. “How can you know God’s plans without knowing Him? A person, who does not spend time with God, doesn’t know God; therefore doesn’t have His vision. Jesus tells us in John, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. ”(New International Version, 2005) As stated in the previous paragraph, it is really hard to know God without spending time and walking with Him. Walking consistently with God is the next stage of getting to know him and his business plans an individual’s life. Christians are called to live their life with Christ as their partner, brother, father, wife, etc… John Costa points out a resemblance of how one is to live, that with the life of Christ. As suggested earlier, Jesus taught, preached and embodied a ‘double and’ theology. In every interaction or experience – for every decision or response – he insisted that binary exclusions be broken and that the intimate, loving presence of God be made near and dear. ”(Costa, 2005) An important lesson to grasp from this is that people cannot do anything on their own. Every ability and success comes from the Lord. Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (New International Version, 2005) Also, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. ”(New International Version, 2005) Walking in wisdom is another way of saying walking with God. For a Christian business man, losing sight of God could easily mislead the man down the wrong path. Many Christians claim to know God and to walk with Him. But many Christians are also fooling themselves and others around them. Sometimes these so-called Christian people know they are doing this, but sometimes they are truly buying into their own lie.
The real test of walking with God comes when a man or a woman comes to a fork in the road. Not just a normal fork with easy decisions about which market to enter and such; this is too easy. The fork spoken of here has one road which takes them to United States and the other one to Mexico. Or to put it simply, they can either chose God or their business. If the business is heading in a direction away from God, what should one do? If a person is ordered to act in a way that goes against God’s thinking, what actions should they take? Our nation has a rich heritage of great Americans who risked their lives to stand up for their beliefs. ”(Steward, 2004) Another business person says, “We seek to honor God as an end goal and recognize that growing profitably is a means goal. ”(Pollard, 2006) If people chose idols such as success, money, and prestige over God, in the end God will not recognize them for loving him above all. The penalties for not choosing God could be even far worse than expected. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers. ”(New International Version, 2005) Walking away from what is known to be wrong is walking towards God. Choosing Jesus shows real faith and real commitment. When a person lives out their beliefs with their actions, it is called integrity. People with integrity can be trusted and relied on to do as they say. Christians are not supposed to be afraid of what others think of them when it comes to choosing between right and wrong. Jesus says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
If you belong to the world, it would love you as its own. ”(New International Version, 2005) A great verse to summarize this paragraph is found in Matthews 6:24, “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 both God and Money. ”(New International Version, 2005) Many people would ask what some of the above paragraphs have to do with business etiquette. The answer to that question can be summarized in the following way: Etiquette is the interactions between people.
People follow and lead by seeing or setting examples for one another. Christian business etiquette requires a higher standard to live by. In order to live by these standards, different outlooks on life have to be grasped and understood. For a Christian, these outlooks are associated with a life lived for Jesus Christ. In order to live a Christ filled life, certain practices and choices are required. These practices and choices, if done correctly, achieve the end goal of intertwining of God and business etiquette. By joining of God and etiquette together, types of pure actions and motives are produced.
John Costa says in his book, Magnificence at Work, “Small things matter because any company or person that settles for less than magnificence in effect collaborates with the opposing multiplication of meanness. ”(Costa, 2005) If the logic above is not simple enough, the following sentence should help: Christians are to display God in all that they do and say, this includes etiquette. References Costa, J. D. (2005). Magnificence at Work: Living Faith in Business. MontrA©al: Novalis. Eldred, K. (2005). God is at Work: Transforming People and Nations Through Business. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.
Gamble, J. E. , J. , A. , Thompson, A. , & Strickland, I. (2009). Crafting & Executing Strategy: Text and Readings (17 ed. ). Boston: Mcgraw-Hill College. Lewis, C. S. (2001). The Weight of Glory (New Ed ed. ). SanFrancisco: HarperSanFrancisco. Pollard, C. W. (2006). Serving Two Masters? : Reflections on God and Profit. New York: Harperbusiness. Shook, R. L. , & Steward, D. (2004). Doing Business by the Good Book: Fifty-Two Lessons on Success Sraight from the Bible (1st ed. ). New York: Hyperion. Zondervan. (2006). NIV Thinline Brown/Nero Black – FCS. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
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