INTEGRITY IN BUSINESS
One of the Advocacies of the BCBP is the “BE HONEST” campaign as a response against the culture of corruption and dishonesty plaguing Philippine society. In order to be an Honest person, a person of Integrity, we need to take a look at God’s characteristics and see that any action we take conforms to God’s character. This Formation Talk sets the guidelines for BCBP Honesty and Integrity.
One of the Advocacies of the BCBP is the “BE HONEST” campaign as a response against the culture of corruption and dishonesty plaguing Philippine society. Children even at an early age recognize the ugly face of dishonesty. They recognize the avoidance of responsibility for one’s actions especially for mistakes made and they also recognize the non-compliance with agreements made. They acknowledge that cheaters are supposed to be punished because of dishonesty. However, as they grow and mature in life, they become part of the culture of dishonesty in school and later in their everyday life. And just like a termite, dishonesty slowly undermines the backbone of persons, families and ultimately society.
What the Bible Tells Us
In the Bible honesty is used to describe the following: Prudence (Acts 6:3); Openness (Luke 8:15), Being Honorable (Acts 12:17), Rom 13:13), Of Good Esteem (2 Cor 8:21), Pure and True (Phil 4:8), and Living Shamelessly (1 Peter 2:12). An Honest person is therefore Prudent in his action and dealings with others. He has the spirit of Openness, one whose conduct is Honorable in the eyes of all, one who is held in Good Esteem by men, one whose thoughts are True and Pure, and one who conducts himself Shamelessly among other men. It is a description of a Christian called to be God’s witness and steward in the world. These words describe a person who is complete, whole, one who is true to his calling as a Son of God, one who has integrity. Being a son, these characteristics ultimately describes the character of God Himself revealed through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Characteristics: Holiness, Justice and Love
Integrity flows from God’s character. In order to be an Honest person, a person of Integrity, we need to take a look at God’s characteristics and see that any action we take conforms to God’s character. And the three characteristics that we need to imbibe to be persons of Integrity and Honesty are: Holiness, Justice, and Love.
1. Holiness. Basic meaning is “separateness” or to be set apart from commonness and to be exclusively for sacred use. A Holy person is a person set apart exclusively for God. What does it mean for us to be set apart for God?
a. It means we have to have the zeal to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Everything we do should be for the praise and honor of God. God is spouse and we should set aside and discard all loyalties competing with God. We are Honest, Honorable and Truthful in our dealings because it Honors and Glorifies God.
b. “You will be made Perfect as your heavenly Father is Perfect.” We are separated, different from the world to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.
c. It also means we have Accountability. Virtues are rewarded and vices are punished.
d. We also need to have an attitude of spiritual Poverty to depend not on our own but on God for everything even if we have more than enough in life.
A very important question that we then face whenever we act is “Does our action honor and glorify God and would Jesus also do this?” I should pass the WWJD test “What Would Jesus Do?”
2. Justice. It is the universal moral quality which is the application of wisdom or discipline to moral conduct. Justice is also the fulfillment of God’s plan in everything we do. The aspects of Justice that should be present in our actions are:
a. Procedural Rights. There should be due process, equal protection for the poor, the rich, and the widows, orphans and strangers. Procedural Rights means one has to be impartial in making decisions. Justice is cold, objective and blind.
b. Substantive Rights. The following rights of a person should be protected: physical safety, truth, right against defamation, property rights of owners, right to life and liberty, and to live with dignity.
c. Merit. One who works hard should earn more. There is a consequence of one’s actions. You reap what you sow.
d. Contractual Justice. These are contractual obligations that elevate as rights of a person – though substantive rights are higher.
e. Compensatory Justice or Compensation.
Any act we do should be evaluated versus the different aspects of Justice. Do we violate or promote Justice in the things we do?
3. Love. The aspects of love are:
a. Empathy. To feel what the other feels in order to understand and make this an input for decision and action. God is all: a loving Husband, a Father, a Mother, a Doctor, a Shepherd, a Friend, a Redeemer, etc.
b. Be merciful as God is Merciful. Mercy is Empathy with legs. Mercy is actually doing something.
c. Love sacrifices rights. Sometimes it is better to love than to be right in order to help the other person. If one sees a poor person, one gives his clothes to that person.
After evaluating if Holiness and Justice are present in our actions, we then bring in the aspect of Love into the picture. Do we empathize and therefore understand? Do we need to be merciful and to sacrifice our rights for the other person?
Any action we do as men and women of Honesty, of Integrity should be evaluated against the moral characteristics of Holiness, Justice and Love. All three must be present. Holiness is the spinal cord of a person, Love is the skin which gives warmth and Justice is the skeleton. The spinal cord gives us (Lev 19). Holiness, Justice and Love is the message of the cross. Even if we commit something wrong, the three must be present: Holiness is to feel shame, Justice is to fear the consequences and make restitution and Love is to grieve that we have broken a relationship and/or hurt God and make amends to restore the relationship.
Having Integrity, being Honest is hard for people to do mainly because of fear of the results and not the results themselves. “Honesty, Integrity, being a Christian has been found difficult and left untried but not tried and found wanting.” Likewise it is hard because of the fear of being alone in the battle. In order to be Honest in everything we do, we need to know the following:
1. To know that what we do, i.e. our business, our professions, our everyday work and dealings, if done Honestly is the calling of God in our life. This is what God wants us to do, it is our vocation. 2 Cor 3.
2. Find Joy in what you do.
3. Have a willingness to bear the cross of being Honest and the challenges that go with it. Be aware of the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, the darkness but after it, the dawn of God. Know that God controls the smoothness, calmness of the sea as well as the waves of trials and difficulties.
4. Have Courage and Prudence. 2 Timothy 1:6-7. Strive to live with Faith and Courage because there will be elements that will always discourage you. In the BCBP, everyone should Encourage each other to be Courageous and Prudent in life. It is the courage of the Prudent to choose a wise course of action wisely.
5. Have Diligence or thoroughness in what you do. There is no substitute for hard work. There should be no corner cutting. Pay attention to details. Diligence is not the same as overwork or hectic activity. There should be time for God and for family. Only through this can life be meaningful.
6. You need Ingenuity, Innovativeness and Creativity. Stand on solid ground but be on the lookout for changes in the world and adapt as needed. Anything living is changing and adapting to move forward. If we don’t move forward, if we just stand still, we wither and die.
7. Be aware that we are not alone in the battle. We have the BCBP community as well as other Christians all over the world.
All of us in the BCBP are under the scrutiny of people who want to see if we walk our talk and sustain our zeal before we will be able to convince them to join us. Our witness will be critical to sustain this “Be Honest” Advocacy.
This, then, is our challenge:
For those who are employed, to work diligently for the eight hours that we are being paid for. To give to our employers what is their due.
For businessmen to pay the proper taxes and the proper wages.
Not to give in to bribery and to fight extortion.
In giving gifts, we should not lead people to sin.
For all of us to speak only the truth, to say ‘yes’ when we mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when we mean ‘no’.
That all of us are honest in all things and at all times . . .
Even if others are not . . .
Even if others will not . . .
Even if others cannot.
Reprinted from its original posting on June 2012 on this website as a timely reminder to all members on the basic principles of the BCBP’s Be Honest Advocacy. This teaching talk was developed and delivered by Bro Bobby Lavina, BCBP Greenhills, formerly National Service Coordinator for Programs and Services, during the launch of the BCBP’s Be Honest Advocacy in Cebu. It was then made part of the BCBP’s Formation Program.