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Employment, ethics, and putting God first

After graduating from college, I worked in a retail store for a large company. There seemed to be few prospects for advancement, so I began a job search, something I had done several times before, with little success.

When I asked a Christian Science practitioner for prayerful help, his response changed my thinking from helplessness to hope. He reminded me that God is our real employer and the source of our supply, so I should always begin my job search by putting God first.

This helped me see that the search wasn’t really in the physical realm of brick-and-mortar buildings or dependent on the choices of employers; it was actually in the true, spiritual universe where God’s perfect expression, man, is forever gainfully employed. Christian Science reveals that our real work is to express the qualities of God and that blessings inevitably follow. Christ Jesus instructs, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

As I regularly read the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and studied various Bible passages—including Psalm 91 and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount—I realized that God is all-powerful, ever-present Love and provides abundantly for His spiritual creation, which includes me. Many old habits and nagging physical problems simply faded away during this time. I was so grateful for the progress I was making that I began regularly attending a local branch Church of Christ, Scientist, and eventually joined both it and The Mother Church (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston).

Seeking a better understanding of God and putting Him first set me on a spiritual journey that led not only to more satisfying work but also to more just and harmonious business practices by my employer.

One day, while attending a strategy meeting with my current employer, I was asked to meet with the senior manager in his office. Though I had never imagined that I had a future with this company, the senior manager offered me a promotion that included more money, a company car, and an office. On top of that, he assigned a mentor to train me. The new position coincided with a healing I’d recently experienced of fear of public speaking. This proved particularly beneficial, as my new duties included speaking to groups of company employees on a regular basis.

I sensed God’s hand in this new appointment, and I drove home thanking Him for showing me who my true employer is.

Two years later, my company was accused of committing fraud. The accusations came from both a government regulatory agency and a local television station that had conducted a sting operation in several of our stores. The publicity was such that some in corporate headquarters believed our business would be heavily fined or possibly shut down. A new position was created to deal with the issue, and I was the one they trusted to fill it.

Rather than being intimidated by this new high-profile responsibility, I again saw this as God’s hand at work. With my improved understanding of God, I could face these accusations without fear. Another employee with media experience was assigned to deal with the television station, while I worked with the regulatory agency. The accusations were that several of our outlets were aggressively recommending unnecessary work.

I affirmed in prayer that God had never made a dishonest man or woman. As divine Truth, God expresses integrity throughout His creation, and I thought about some of the spiritual qualities that the Apostle Paul describes in one of his biblical epistles: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23). I prayed to see that these God-derived qualities are innate to and expressed by all of us.

In particular, the word love stood out to me. Why should I be afraid of the state regulators, when everyone is an expression of God’s love, “against such there is no law”? This spiritual preparation silenced fear and gave me confidence to contact the regulators and arrange a meeting.

The government officials presented me with a multitude of alarming claims. I knew this was not a time to be defensive or to offer lengthy explanations. Indeed, I strove to be respectful, to ask questions and, most of all, to listen for God’s direction. I was reminded of this biblical assurance: “The battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . Set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (II Chronicles 20:15, 17)

The officials had investigated a number of our shops but had reported no evidence of fraud. They did, however, point out that our salespeople did a poor job of keeping customers fully informed. The fact that the officials believed our retail operation to be essentially honest was good news to local and corporate management. But their requirement that, in the future, our company either issue correctly documented sales invoices or risk having to grant customers a full refund came as a surprise. At first, local management balked at this condition, believing such a detailed procedure would inhibit our sales force. But I felt that what the state was requiring was in line with God’s supreme, ever-truthful government and was therefore a good business practice consistent with the Golden Rule.

With this in mind, I met with our senior manager and outlined the regulators’ requirements. And he agreed. He asked me to conduct a series of training sessions throughout the state on correct sales invoice procedures and documentation. Our sales force had been trained to aggressively overcome customer objections and resistance; the new approach of openness and full disclosure changed their selling method to a kind and genuinely caring one. The results were fewer customer complaints—and increased sales.

I continued to meet quarterly with the regulators, which resulted in a harmonious relationship—so much so that not long after, I was promoted to a new position. I became part of a training team that made full disclosure the basis of the company’s nationwide sales practices.

Paul writes: “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men” (Romans 14:17, 18).

Looking back on my business career, I realize that making integrity and honesty the basis of my company’s approach to sales was the fulfilling of God’s purpose. I couldn’t be more grateful for Christian Science. My study of it not only changed my life for the better but also enabled me to make a substantial contribution.

-- Rich



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