Bill and I had friends over Saturday night and we had a rousing good time: lots of talking and conversing and questioning and debating and eating. One issue that came up was whether or not Christians do better deliberately trying to do business with other Christians. My personal point of view was that if I have a business matter at hand, I seek out the best business advice, the best rep, the best firm- I don't care what their religious beliefs are. I sounded very "secular", I know.
Our friend had a different feeling on the matter. He thought that you would do better doing business with someone who held godly convictions, and that they would deliver the goods, so to speak, more so because of their spiritual convictions and beliefs. That you could, as brothers or sisters in the Lord, hold each other accountable to God's higher standard of doing things.
I just think it muddies the water. I've become more pragmatic in my golden years (!) and by that I don't think "less spiritual". I think it's godly to be practical. I think it's godly to do business in an excellent manner- and yet I've met and known outstanding business people who did not hold my "godly" beliefs, and I had a better experience, sometimes, than if I had done business with a Christian.
I'm not saying all Christians are lousy business people. Really, I'm not. But I've known a lot of Christians who were trying and sincere, and yet fumbling and mixed up at the same time, just as many non Christian business people can be. I've also known atheistic business people who had integrity and clear objectives, and I've known well meaning Christians who tried to evangelize and manage contractual obligations, poorly, all at the same time.
Why am I bringing this up? Who knows?! But maybe this conversation we had with friends is more of an important life matter, to me, than I realized at first.
When I visited the Yahoo Finance page this morning, I saw this article headline "7 Signs a Stock is Ready to Slide"- and it made me think of how people slide and fall and how we don't always see it coming. It made me remember the times I've gone to do business with a Christian, expecting the experience to be smooth and clear, and I was shaken up by how screwed up the relationship got and by how bad the business advice was or how inept the person was. I didn't see the signs that the transaction was getting botched up royally. And I was mad or hurt or shocked because I thought that the person, being a Christian, would then be an ideal person to do business with.
No one is ideal, though. No One. Sometimes I feel like apologizing to the world at large for all we've botched and bullied in the name of Christianity. And sometimes I feel like yelling at the world and telling it to give us a break for being human, fallible, stupid at times, and dim witted. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by how much I've grown and matured because it means that I was so stupid and dull and slow to see. It means I had a long way to go- if I am now more mature. A long way.
But everyone has a long way to go. It's just that I think we Christians sometimes forget to remind ourselves, and the world, that we're in that category as well. We have not arrived. Just because we "know Jesus" or we've "seen the light" doesn't mean that we are not still, often, sitting in the dark and thinking it's bright enough.
So if you have a business matter today to attend to, my advice is to seek someone who is grounded in the facts, and more than sincere in their aim to help you. Sincerity is not enough. You have to be clear about how cloudy you can be. You have to remember that the best help is given when the objectives are met, the transaction is straight forward, and the outcome is that you feel you were helped, not defrauded, not preached to, not short changed.
I want to be a better business woman. I want to be a clear minded citizen. I want to be sane and cogent and clear on all matters- religious or practical. Because the last thing I want said about me is that I'm so heavenly minded I'm no earthly good.