I’m presently being faced with several sticky relationship issues, both personal and professional, but all of which demand absolute honesty from me in those relationships. Such honesty will lead to conflict. I don’t like conflict. I’m not a guy who enjoys getting into the ring. Yet I’m learning (once again) that leadership and stewardship require honesty – in these cases – about what others have done or not done that needs to be corrected. I take my text today from Leviticus 6.1-7:
1The LORD said to Moses: 2″If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, 3or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do— 4when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, 5or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering. 6And as a penalty he must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, his guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. 7In this way the priest will make atonements for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him guilty.”
(Various Authors (2010-05-05). NIV Stewardship Study Bible: Discover God’s Design for Life, the Environment, Finances, Generosity, and Eternity (Kindle Locations 7723-7735). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)
I want to be clear on this: when my employees don’t receive the unvarnished truth from me – in love and with tact, of course – that is the same as deceiving them. And that is sin. When I shy away from conflict and leave problems on the table, in essence, I’m also lying about what I’m really thinking – bottled up inside with a frozen smile. This is sin.
Honesty without love is rudeness – harshness – insensitive and uncaring. But honesty with love means that you choose your words carefully, but you do choose to speak and to work towards a more honest, productive relationship. It is the quality of those relationships that will make or break my business or my family. Think about it. Why do families form? Because two people formed a relationship and thought that they could make that relationship work for the long term. Why do families break apart? Because the relationships within the families stop working – they break and they don’t get fixed.
I’ve read several times that my business is my people. I believe that. What I’d suggest is that we extend that idea to say our businesses are our people in relationships – to each other – to me (the owner) and to vendors, partners, customers, and so forth. It takes quality relationships to make a business successful. And quality relationships require loving honesty.
One of my Undeniable Truths of Business Ownership is that you will have the problems that you tolerate (#65). I would be willing to wager that festering problems usually include the element of dishonesty in a relationship. The Lord was good to me today in giving me this gift about myself, my family and my business.