Archive for the ‘Christian business ethics’ Tag

When Christians are Of the World   Leave a comment

Ralph Seekins is a local car dealership owner and politician. Although I’ve met him, I can’t say I know him personally. He’s owned the largest car dealership (Ford) in Fairbanks since I was in college and he’s been in the State Legislature. I think he ran for Governor or Lt. Governor at least once. He’s a Republican.

He’s also a huge contributor to Young Life locally and is the most prominent member of the largest Assembly of God church in town.

He is a public Christian involved in business and politics.

There are significant numbers of Ford owners in Fairbanks who buy their cars in Wasilla or Anchorage (250 to 400 miles away) and drive there for service that you have to wonder why. I own a used Ford and take it to an independent garage. My experience with Seekins Ford is never good and that appears to be the view of just about everyone except the military, who are never here long enough to need any real maintenance. I can get a Ford part from NAPA for 1/3 of what it would cost me at the dealership and the longest I’ve ever had to wait is two days for shipping from Seattle. That same part will take two weeks if I order it through the deadership. I’m told by those folks who make that long drive to the Wasilla Ford dealership that you can get the same part there for quite a bit less than Seekins sells it for. In some ways,  the Fairbanks car market is a monopoly because of the distance to other locations, but not all local deaderships have this reputation.

Mr. Seekins is an important member of the Republican Party in Alaska, but it’s interesting how many of the folks who have had political dealings with him don’t trust him.

I think Young Life does good work and I have nothing against the Assemblies of God, but I know folks who will say both are phony organizations and they point to Seekins involvement as proof.

Here is just one example. A number of years ago, Seekins Ford donated a car for a Young Life raffle at the State Fair. Alaska has a weird state fair system where the fair is held in multiple locations a couple of weeks apart. Nobody won the raffle at the Tanana Valley State Fair. We were told the numbers were randomized and so the winner could be at the Palmer or Juneau fair. Nobody won there either. We discovered this because a reporter at the local newspaper decided to investigate. The promoter, apparently rattled by being found out, admitted  the winning number was not in the block of numbers available in Alaska. He pointed to Seekins’ manager making that decision. She obfuscated, talking about how this was standard procedure with raffles through out the country. Ralph said nothing — ever.

So all those people who bought tickets thinking they might get something for being generous to a good cause now have a sour taste in their mouths about Young Life and Ralph Seekins … and Christianity in general. Seekins talks a lot about family and he seems to have a good one. He speaks out against abortion and I believe he believes God cares if we abort our babies. He gives to the right causes. But he’s known as a crook in business and politics and even in charity and that speaks very badly for the God he says he serves.

I may be the only Christian someone else will ever know. I may be the only reflection of God someone will ever see. When I reflect the world instead of my Savior, I am misrepresenting God and potentially keeping people from coming to Him.

Think about that, Christians! What are you doing that misrepresents God?

Like it or not, you’re going to answer for it at the bema seat judgment, so you’d better ask yourself —

 

“Do I want to face God and explain myself over this?” 

It’s Not About Christianity   Leave a comment

When Christians say “my behavior in [this realm of life] has nothing to do with my Christianity” I think it reveals a deep misunderstanding of what following Jesus is all about.

There is no such thing as “it’s just business” to a follower of Jesus Christ. To truly follow Jesus requires transformation in all aspects of life, not just in our Sunday behavior, our dress code, our language or our sex lives. Christians should stand out as being different.

My friend Jon owns a western-wear store. His store manager came to him and said “The local bar is hosting a tight jeans contest and is looking for sponsors. I think this would be a great advertising move.”

Jon agreed that it could attract a lot of attention to the store, but then he declined to participate. Here were his reasons:

  • He viewed himself as running the business on God’s behalf
  • Therefore, all the money the store made was God’s money
  • He could not reconcile spending God’s money to promote semi-drunken people parading around in tight jeans while other semi-drunken people admired their butts
  • Everybody in town knew who owned that western store and that they were Christians
  • Sponsorship of the contest would reflect poorly on Jon as Christian and on God as his Master

 

Chuck said the classic line “This has got nothing to do with your Christianity,” but Jon is the boss, so the store did not sponsor the contest.

It was a tough choice. Advertising in Fairbanks is expensive and Jon knew this was a relatively low-cost way of getting the word out about their brand of jeans and the store, but he also knew he couldn’t tell Jesus that he spent His money that way.

A few days after Jon said “no”, his competition called to crow that he’d taken the sponsorship and was going to enjoy all the publicity unless Jon joined in. Jon had to remind himself that he served a higher purpose than his bottom line, but it wasn’t an easy business choice.

Except …

Their jeans were represented at the contest because the participants could wear whatever jeans they wanted. Jon’s store got the free publicity of their jeans winning the contest without having to spend God’s money on a contest God would disapprove. The local newspaper even ran a story on how the contest was won by a store that hadn’t participated in the contest and even quoted Jon’s reasons. People asked Jon why he’d not participated and that gave him the opportunity to share the gospel and most particularly how God can bless a business that makes tough choices for Him rather than just doing things the way the world says business is done.

There are no areas of a Christian’s life where Jesus does not exist. So why do we try to keep Him out of those where we are tempted not to be Christlike.

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