August 27, 2011, marked the 19th anniversary of the founding of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) in Tagbilaran. It was a day to celebrate, to relish and to reflect on how Christ and the gospel values have made a difference in the lives of many of our business men and professionals. I was very much honored to be invited into the occasion for it gave me the opportunity to keep in touch with persons of deep and variegated influences in society and to see how Christ and the Bible message of honesty and integrity through nineteen years of journey by the group have shaped their lives in the privacy of their consciences, their homes, and in their chosen works and profession, dealing with other persons in the marketplace and offices.
I had wanted to hear testimonies of how the “law of the marketplace” has given way to the priorities of God’s Kingdom in doing business. The message of Christ who once said: “Seek first his kingship over you, his way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Mt 6:33), has this made some positive changes among members of the BCBP, shaping them into Christians, gentlemen of character, who do not park their precious faith in the Church on Sunday but live it through thick and thin seven days a week?
It is not easy to bring Christ and his message to one’s daily professional and business ventures. A persn of integrity, just, honest, and God-fearing in secular dealings is not necessarily assured of monetary profits nor of promotion in the office. In the world of reality the smart guy unscrupulous in financial dealings often gets the substantial profit. The shrewder one is in business enterprise the more profit he makes. Jesus himself had seen this irony in life when he once made this comment: “Because the worldly take more initiative than the other worldly when it comes to dealing with their own kind” (Mt 16:8).
To make profit is not bad. It sure is part of business. But essential as it is in business, it is not the only factor that determines the cost of the items for transaction. One has to consider the real value of the sales, their quality, their cost of production, reasonable mark-up, and other added values. Herein comes into play the inner character of the businessmen, their honesty, their fair play that may not assure them of a captured market. But these human if not Christian qualities do instill the trust in the heart of the buying public.
Morality does pay off in the long haul, not only in terms of pleasing Tod, of doing business with conscience. These activities create inner peace of mind, business stability, and consistency. Contemporary books on leadership such as Warren Bennis’ On Becoming a Leader, John Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You, and Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, are one in underlining the importance of the persons’ character in financial enterprise, that those business leaders who highly respect their customers, deal fairly with employees, stockholders and partners, will outlive other business undertakings, will remain stable, and will be reasonably profitable in the long run. In time they surely will get back not only their investment but a reasonable profit, not counting the high respect that they earned from the community. In a real sense, good ethics is good business. It pays to “Be honest, even if others are not, even if others will not; even if others cannot.”
Of course, the nineteen years of existence of the BCBP (in Tagbilaran) have not been that smooth. The road less traveled is always a lonely and rugged path to traverse. To be ethical and moral in business transactions and in dealings in the profession is wrought with tensions – one has to contend with the wiles of the world, the temptation of quick return on investments, the pressure of society that has become materialistic and secular in its view of life. Even among the members of BCBP ha filtered a morality that has been watered down by some schools of thought, such as the schools of consequentialism, situation ethics, and proportionalism.
The doctrine proposed by these schools are very alluring indeed. They contend that all human acts are good or indifferent, that their morality depends upon the intention of the agent and the proportionate consequences of the affected acts. The Church looks askance at this doctrine. It leads to moral relativism, a teaching that denies moral absolutes, that is, those acts that are always right or wrong, acts that are prohibited because they are always evil. But, the members of the BCBP go on as faithful followers of the Church. For deep down in their souls are solidly embedded the Christian values and the ideals of the Christian Brotherhood. The nineteen years of stay in the BCBP with all their personal and shared experiences have convinced them that Christ is still relevant today in the marketplace; that honesty is the best policy; that ethics is good business.