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Christian Business Ethics

Where might you find a handbook, a guide, or a Christian business ethics manual?

You want to be a successful business person, but you would like to be loyal to your Christian faith too. If you are like me, you want to know, what the Christian ethical or moral standards are for a business person.

Is there a difference between moral and ethical business practices?

Our morals have to do with our own character, and are influenced by what is right or wrong in God's eyes.

Our ethics are our guiding principles for how we work out our grasp of what is good or moral. So I believe our morals influence our business ethics. When we have strong Christian morals, which are Christ-like, we will end up with Christian-flavoured business ethics. For example, if our conscience says, "that would be cheating my customers, (or employees), therefore I will not stoop to that action," our morals have influenced our Christian business ethics.

To discern what is a good behaviour or attitude and what is bad, we need to be well-grounded in what God says, through the Bible. Then we devise principles for how we will do business based on those moral or Biblical rules.

It is possible to grow up in a fine Christian home, and have a character that is strongly influenced to think and feel and do in Christ-like ways, and that we naturally develop business ethics based on that way of thinking, without giving it much thought. Still, I believe it would be smart of us to review our ethics and be sure they are all sound and godly.

Whether you write it down in black and white, or just carry it in your intuition, you do have a Business Ethics Manual. To develop that into a Christian Business Ethics Manual study God's Word and see what He declares acceptable or moral.

I first read a hint of this this in my early 20s when I was full of idealism and eager to live out my faith. I was looking for books on how to develop a charming, winsome personality. The author of a paperback said that God's manual for psychiatry was in the book of Proverbs in the Bible. I decided to study Proverbs to hunt for such instructions.

At that time I had a job as receptionist and switchboard operator in a factory. The unionized workers were on strike, but the office staff was expected to come in. However, there was next to nothing to do. A perfect time for my study project.

I put headings on sheets of scrap paper, spreading them across my big L-shaped desk. As I read through Proverbs, I stopped at every verse with some principle in it, and decided which category it could apply to, then copied it onto appropriate sheets. One category was Christian business ethics; I was astonished at how many proverbs could be applied there, as well as in family life, career training, social relationships, and my thought life.

When the strike was over nine weeks later, I felt overwhelmed. I bound my many pages between some covers, making a book an inch and a half thick, and set the study aside to do in smaller parts at another time.

Right now I'm on a weekly plan to find the ones that give guidance for Christian business ethics, and I'm writing articles and web pages on them, for my own benefit and for others.

Here are a few examples;

"Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
(Proverbs 3:9-10 NIV)

In colourful language it says, that if you skim off a little from your first profits to give away so that it honours God, you will see results brim over.

"The LORD abhors dishonest scales,
but accurate weights are his delight.
(Proverbs 11:1 NIV)

God does not approve of cheating; applies to any fudging of numbers in manufacturing or sales, or reports. Make sure your business strives for the highest accuracy in all you do.

Here are ethics business women can apply;

"A kindhearted woman gains respect,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
Proverbs 11:16 NIV)

"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
(Proverbs 11:22 NIV)

How to Find Your Christian Business Ethics

A good way to find these gems is to read a Proverbs chapter every day of the month, and then cycle through again. If you miss some days, just start again with the chapter number that corresponds to the current date.

Read Proverbs the way you would eat a fish that was not filleted; when you come to one you can't understand simply set it, like a bone, to the side of your plate. Some other day you will get it. Move on, and look for the one verse you do understand for that day. Repeat it several times and allow it to come back to you throughout the day while you do other things. You will gain insights later on that surprise you.

If you have read the Bible all your life, it may not take you long to draw up a list of ethical rules for your business. Nor do you need to stay in Proverbs. There is wonderful guidance all through the Scriptures. I'm just suggesting Proverbs as a good starting point if you don't know where to begin.

If this is new to you, ask someone more familiar with the Bible to help you draw up a few basic Christian business ethics at the start of your business for a good foundation, then add to that as you discover more in your daily Bible readings. Some days you may not see anything to apply, another day you'll recognize two or three.

My own list is still growing after several decades as I find more and refine my list. Not to give myself a harsh 'dos and don'ts' list, but rather, easy to remember guiding principles to help me come to decisions faster.

You'll find my current updated list of Christian Business Ethics here;
My 7 Financial Principles

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Ruth Marlene Friesen

Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One

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