W52D5 - Ethics

"Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water" - Hosea 5:10.

Boundary stones marked out property rights, and the leaders of Judah were moving those boundaries to deprive people of what was rightfully theirs. The Lord was watching these practices and transactions and disapproved, threatening to pour out His wrath on those unethical thieves. Because leaders have power, they can amass powerful allies, privileges, and special treatment that will enrich them through benefits not available to others without power. When those privileges provide opportunities to take what belongs to others, the Lord gets involved to protect the rights of the poor and powerless. Simply put, leaders must be careful not to use their position for personal gain, especially unethical gains.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to focus on Jesus as your model for leadership. Did Jesus take advantage of others from His position of power? Of course He did not and you should not either. Start by evaluating what you have received simply because you are the leader. Do you need a reserved parking space? What about office space and staff devoted to serving you? Do you use your service staff for personal work and errands? More importantly, are you encroaching on the rights of the powerless to enrich yourself? What would Jesus do in your leadership position?

W49D4 - Ethics

"Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance" - Micah 2:1-2.

The prophet had a one-word warning to those who use their leadership power to steal, defraud, and rob people of inheritances, who plan evil at night and carry it out the first chance they have. His one word of warning was (and is) woe. God is watching the business and leadership practices of all people the world over and He shows great interest in their ethical practices. The absence of ethics clearly spelled out in God's word should be a major concern for all business people, for their woe may be that what they do in secret God chooses to reveal for the world to see. Leaders must also take into account the impact their decisions and business practices have on the poor, widowed, and marginalized in society, keeping in mind that God is watching what they do.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to read the entire book of Micah (seven chapters), specifically studying it to identify the ethics outlined in that book. Look for what the Lord has to say about leadership, idolatry, business practices, justice, bribery, care for the poor, and wealth. See if you can identify any other categories and then work to construct a set of business and leadership ethics (or evaluate your current ones) based on what you read in Micah. How can you effectively apply those ethical practices in your work?

W44D4 - Ethics

"If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked" - Proverbs 29:12.

Proverbs is a practical book that contains guidance on finances, child rearing, relationships, and leadership, just to name a few categories it addresses. Today's verse is directed toward leaders and warns them that they will reap what they sow in the area of ethics. If a leader loses integrity, then before they know it, they will be surrounded by unethical followers, all telling the leader what they want to hear. If that is true, then the opposite must also be trueintegrity and ethical behavior will tend to attract other ethical followers and employees. Leaders must pay attention not only to their bottom line, but how that bottom line is being achieved and what effect that bottom line is having on employees, customers, society in general, and the environment.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is one for the long haul and that is to build an ethical leadership framework by reading through the book of Proverbs. As you read, substitute the word 'leader' any time you see the word 'king,' 'prince,' 'ruler,' or any other leadership role. As you restate those verses, study to see what those verses say to leaders about communication, business practices, decision making, or any other leadership activity. Once you have your list, study it and diligently apply what you learned.

W39D4 - Ethics

"The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him" - Proverbs 11:1.

In ancient times, items that were sold by weight, like flour, salt, or seed, were put on one side of a scale with a weight on the other side. Unethical vendors would tamper with the weights, making the buyer think they were purchasing a certain amount, but in actuality the weight was less than it appeared. Thus the buyer was paying for a pound but in actuality only receiving 14 ounces. Today's verse tells us that God watches those false 'weights'—fraudulent and dishonest business dealingsand actually bestows favor on those who act with integrity. Leaders must be mindful of this fact and watch their business and leadership practices to ensure everything they do and produce is accurately portrayed, labeled, and advertised.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to an assessment of the world you lead: 1) Are you faithful to your organization's mission or is it a nice slogan to which no one pays attention?; 2) Do you follow through on customer service  promises?; 3) Does your leadership team keep commitments to employees or volunteers and treat them with dignity?; 4) Are your services and products of a high quality?; 5) Are there false weights in your own character or leadership style?

W34D4 - Ethics

"Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow" - Proverbs 13:11.

Most ethical failures in leadership and business involve money. Those involved are usually looking for a shortcut to obtain riches, although some are only involved in petty theft or pilfering. Yet stealing small is stealing still, no matter the size of the take, and God is watching to take away what someone unethically obtains. Leaders must learn to be content with what they have and work faithfully to make it increase, both personally and for their organizations. The Bible is clear, however, that someone who is unfaithful in little things (or a small amount of money) is just a few steps away from being unfaithful in larger, more significant things (like taking a larger amount of money).

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reassess your heart condition where money is concerned. How faithful are you in the little things like small amounts of money or things that don't cost very much? Do you use the company postage for personal mail? Use company office supplies like they were your own? And how about the bigger things? Are you looking for shortcuts to get your hands on a lot of money? What price are you paying for that pursuit of a big payday?

W29D4 - Ethics

“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? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?" - Luke 16:10-12.

Jesus did not preach a complicated gospel. It was and is easy to understand--impossible to do without God's help, but not hard to grasp. In these verses, Jesus laid out three principles that make for good ethics: 1) be faithful in the little things; 2) be trustworthy in money matters; and 3) handle the possessions of others with integrity. The last of the three includes not just the physical property of others, but also their reputation, gifts, future, time, and career. In other words, the proper handling of people is not just a matter of efficiency or good management and leadership, it is also an ethical matter, equally as important (if not more so) than the proper handling of money.

LEADERSHIP STEP:  Do you see proper management of people as not just a management/leadership matter, but also an ethical one? Your Step today is to meditate on that truth and then assess your ethics where others are concerned. How many people are you mentoring? How many have you helped promote to other positions? Do you waste people's time by being chronically late? Do you use your power to empower others? What can you do to improve?

W24D4 - Ethics

"By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down" - Proverbs 29:4.

Bribery is a way of doing business in many countries, but it is an endless pit of greed as people line up to get their share of loot for doing a job they are often already paid to do. Leaders must set the moral and ethical tone and climate for an organization or country, for when leaders are corrupt, it has a trickle-down affect. When leaders pursue and enforce ethical leadership and practices in good times and in bad, they provide a stable, predictable, and healthy environment where business growth and vitality have the chance to survive and thrive.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you setting the moral and ethical tone for your organization? Your Leadership Step today is to include a discussion of company ethics in your staff meetings on a regular basis—and that includes churches as well. At that time, you can look at things like pay levels for staff and leadership, truth in your publications, if you are living up to your mission and values, staff diversity, community service, truthful staff evaluations, nepotism, and financial reports. Are you performing ethically in these areas? How can you improve?

W19D4 - Ethics

"Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure" - Proverbs 20:28.

When leaders act or make decisions, they would do well to be guarded and guided by the values of love and faithfulness. Those two principles would be a strong foundation upon which to base any ethical leadership philosophy. This verse also seems to imply that the leaders who give love get love in return, and that helps make their leadership tenure meaningful and longer-lasting. It may be strange to think of love in an organizational context, but God's ways are effective, not just in the Church but also in all life situations.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Set aside 45 minutes to consider how love can play a more important role in your leadership decisions and behavior. Go to 1 Corinthians 13, the well-known chapter on love, read it, and then re-read it. Look at the various components of love as Paul described them, and evaluate your leadership style in light of those components. How can love play a more prominent role in your work life? What changes do you need to make based on 1 Corinthians 13?

W14D4 - Ethics

"Differing weights and differing measures—the Lord detests them both" - Proverbs 20:10.

God is involved in every leader's business, watching to make sure the organization is making ethical decisions and following through on commitments and promises in marketing campaigns. This verse refers to someone measuring out on a two-sided scale flour or some other commodity while using a false balance, pretending to sell a certain amount when it is really less. It is unethical to appear to provide one service or product, when in actuality something less or inferior is being substituted. Quite simply, God hates false practices in business and it is never in the best interests of the business or those making the decisions to do something God hates.

LEADERSHIP STEP: How are your ethics at work? Delivering on what you promise? Producing a good day's work for your pay? Pilfering company office supplies or equipment for personal use? All these things are ethical issues. Your job today is to do an ethical review of your work attitude, habits, and performance in three areas: commitment to excellence, keeping promises, and treatment of others—peers and customers or clients. Score 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) for each.

W9D4 - Ethics

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" - Proverbs 1:7.

Leaders are not exempt from or beyond the reach of God's ethical requirements, no matter where or who they lead. And this ethical mandate begins with having a teachable spirit, no matter how experienced or mature the leader is. If a leader does not have that spirit, then they despise wisdom and instruction and are missing the key component to learning, which is the fear of the Lord based in humility. Leaders must grow in their understanding of diversity, fair trade, finance, leadership styles, personality and any other knowledge that relates to their field of work. Once they have that ethical capacity and knowledge, then God expects them to do what they know is right to do.

LEADERSHIP STEP: You will not grow in your ethical awareness and wisdom where your occupation is concerned unless you acknowledge as a leader that you don't know it all and your perspective is not infallible or omniscient. Yesterday you were urged to take another look at your values. Today assess yourself where your values are concerned, scoring 1 (poor) to 5 (great), then have someone close to you do the same. Develop a plan for where you need to be more consistent to carry out your values, which is nothing more than another name for ethics.