Scenario: interacting at a networking meeting, how can you tell if the people you meet are worth your time and potential business interaction?
I can be Moral in my interaction, hopeful, honest, optimistic, expecting the best from people, or I can be skeptical, suspicious, defensive, manipulative, expecting the worst. It seems like the second choice is safer than the first option? I don’t like the second choice but it seems when I choose the first I’m disappointed or in the worse case scenario taken advantage of. Good news, this is not a new struggle for people of faith. It might surprise you to know that Jesus addressed this issue in instructions he gave to his followers.
In Mat 10:16 the context is Jesus sending out his followers to share the good news and prove the veracity of the message. I love what he says: “I’m sending you out as sheep among wolves.” Who sends sheep into the wolves’ den? V. 16 presents us with a dichotomy, we are to be innocent and crafty.
In Mat 7:16-20 Jesus spent lot of time talking about fruit. We don’t have the ability to seen inside someone’s soul, but we can examine his or her actions or fruit. Fruit is what is produced a tree just like our actions are produced by our lives. Good fruit is evidence of a healthy tree just like positive actions are the product of a healthy life.
So how do we live as innocent as doves and wise as serpents? In our business spheres of life here are 3 principles:
1. Assume everyone is operating in his or her own self-interest. Do you know why? Because most people are. Our entire economic system is built on this assumption.
2. Accept the gray. As adults we understand that there is far more gray in the world than black and white. Therefore be cautious of “either/or” thinking and look for “both/and” type of thinking. For example consider the statement “In this world, there only are good people or bad people.” Is this true? Not really, in fact we all are a mixture of both good and bad. So consider this simple fact: Business is more profitable for a society when conducted within moral guidelines. As people of faith, striving to live a healthy life, producing good fruit, we are needed in the business arena to bring the light of moral actions to the hazy world of unbridled pursuit of the bottom line. When we accept the gray then we are in a position to operate morally without becoming a victim
3. Remember you are not alone. To answer the question from before, who sends sheep to contend with wolves? God does. He is not worried about the sheep because of his own perfect ability protect them. He is with you and God will help you see people’s fruit and evaluate it.