Have you ever wondered how you can remain ethical while you plot to beat the heck out of the competition? Here is where you find out.

Welcome to the Christian Executive Website.
The Christian Executive is a senior management text providing conventional management solutions supported by specific religious documentation to demonstrate the compatibility of Christianity and other religions with economic success and illustrate that business ethics is a function of a higher authority than legal expediency.

This website contains excerpts from
The Christian Executive.

The Christian Executive © 1998 Ronald Rainson

Being Shrewd is Okay

The adjective "crafty" conjures up an image of someone not to be trusted. Some Christians equate shrewd with crafty and suggest that a good Christian should at least act naive.  I do not believe that Christians should appear to be passive and naive. The Christians of old were brave and bold by any standard. Being guileless and honest does not require you to be simple-minded. Jesus instructed his own disciples to be shrewd as snakes.

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as
shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (NIV)  

I'm not entirely sure how shrewd a snake actually is but I don't think I'm alone in my interpretation that this passage meant the Jesus wanted his disciples to be alert and pretty darn clever.

February 15, 2019 

Use of Consultants

EXCERT from The Christian Executive © 1998 by Ronald Rainson:

When you decide you need some outside advice, recall Nebuchadnezzar's request of his advisors.

Daniel 2:3-5
(3) he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means." (4) Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it." (5) The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. (NIV)

Today it might go something like:

He said to the consultants, "I have had some ideas about my company that trouble me and I want to know what they mean." Then the consultants answered the CEO, "O CEO, may our contract go on forever! Tell your consultants the ideas and we will give them back to you in a report." The CEO replied to the consultants, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my ideas should be, I will get another consultant."

In fairness to Consultants, they can provide two important services, expertise and impartiality. Expertise is important; neutrality is vital. A good consultant can offer you a unique perspective based on their training and experience but, more importantly, they can offer something very difficult to find internally - objective advice. Think of the kingdoms and companies that could have been saved by a little candor and objectivity.

Please remember; however, that what consultants offer is advice; not orders. I've seen many very good managers hire consultants and do exactly what the consultants told them to do.

You're a good manager and if you are also a good leader, you will embrace the candor and take the advice but use it to make your own decisions. That's not to say that you won't often agree with the consultant, but you must remember to compare that input to your own experience and make your own decisions.

© 1998 Ronald Rainson

Rapprochement - Science & Religion

The beliefs of Christianity do not conflict with science.

God's Physics 

When I was in Physics 101 at Wayne State University in Detroit, the instructor explained how passing a wire through a magnetic field would make current flow in the wire. A student asked why that was so and the instructor said, "I just told you, if you move the wire in a field, current flows in the wire." The student persisted, "but why, when you move a wire in a field, does current flow?" "Because you're moving the wire," said the instructor - not a little irritated at this point.

This exchange went on a few more times until finally the instructor, in a rather loud voice, answered, "Because God wants it to!" The room, with over fifty students in it, was dead silent. I realized at that moment, only weeks into my career as a physicist, that all science was just observing and describing what God allows to happen under a variety of circumstances and that I could never understand any more than what God's rules were and how to take advantage of them for the benefit of mankind. From this perspective, there is no dispute between science and religion.

Christianity vs. Evolution

Concerning a more typical religious debate, consider the conflict between Darwin and Genesis. I don't have any trouble accepting both viewpoints.

Some argue that evolution could not have take place in the six days God used to make the world. I've never considered "timing arguments" as valid challenges to the Bible because of what Peter said:

2 Peter 3:8
"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day." (KJV)

At the very least, this tells us that time has a different meaning for the Lord than for those of us who only live for a heartbeat or two.

Even without the timing issue, when it was said that God created man in his own image, did he, in an instant, make a physical being that looked like him or did he give an ape (who had evolved for thousands of years) a spirit? Who cares which it was? I frankly prefer to think that the scriptures don't mean physical features when they talk about the image of God. For one thing, I have a tough time believing in an image of God that looks suspiciously like Zeus. Surely my God, the deity I worship, doesn't exist in a physical form like me.

Did the Lord make the lightning or did he allow a difference in electrical charge between the earth and some clouds? Does it matter which? All science does is name events and explain how they will usually occur; no scientist every really explained why something happened. You can explain that current flows in a wire when the wire moves through a magnetic field but why does it choose to do that? Because God wants it to.

What Scientists Believe In

In 1914, James H. Leuba of the Bryn Mawr College Psychology Department conducted a survey of American biologists and physical scientists concerning two beliefs he felt were central to the Christian Religion.

A God influenced by worship and an afterlife.

Leuba felt Christianity couldn't survive without those two concepts. In 1996 and 1998, eighty-two years later, Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham asked a group of scientists:

Do you believe in a God in intellectual and affective communication with man... to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer and do you believe in personal immortality?

These are essentially the same questions. Four out of ten scientists believed in God in Leuba's study in 1914. In 1996 and 1998, it was still 40%. In Leuba's study 50% thought there was life after death; now it is down to 40%.

I would like to suggest, and I admit this conclusion is from limited evidence, that the declining numbers and indeed the low numbers to begin with, are the result of including scientists in the survey who, while they might have been on the rolls of the National Academy of Science, are not as brilliant and insightful as they would have us believe. Consider Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton. They were all profoundly religious.

Given that a "scientist" should appear objective, I suspect they have convinced themselves that a belief in a supreme being would cloud their judgement let alone steal their thunder. Remember, afterall, the best a scientist can do is understand cause and effect and name things. There is nothing new under the sun.

1 Cor 3:18-19
(18) Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. (19) For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; (NIV)

© 1999 Ronald Rainson

Mergers & Acquisitions

EXCERT from The Christian Executive © 1998 by Ronald Rainson:

Three years after K. Jehoiakim was named CEO of the Judah Corporation, a corporate raider named K. Nebuchadnezzar came calling. He was famous for his swift and unfriendly takeovers.

The CEO of Babylon, Inc. was ruthless with his acquisitions, but he was no fool. He had C. Ashpenaz, VP Human Resources, look over the officers of Judah Corp. and pick out some with style and aptitude and, unlike a weaker leader, he wanted officers who were educated and well informed. Ashpenaz selected four contenders and, as was Nebuchadnezzar's custom, they were moved to Babylon, Inc. headquarters for indoctrination into what was known as the Babylonian Way - the way Babylon, Inc. conducted their business.

The young Judah Vice Presidents were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Ashpenaz gave them new titles. They were now Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and if they played their cards right and went along with the Bablyonian Way, they'd be VP's again in no time. This was a pretty tempting offer since most of their friends had lost their careers (permanently).

Now Daniel was a man of faith and perseverance. When Ashpenaz explained the Babylonian Way to him, he asked Ashpenaz if he could continue to do things the way he did at Judah. He told the head of HR, that if he is allowed to do it his way (the way his faith dictated) he would produce more than anyone else in the company.

Daniel 1:1-2 
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. (NIV)

By now you see were this analogy is going and how it can be applied to you as a newly acquired company or employee. You, like Daniel, are recognized by the new owners as being good at what you do. You and I know from several thousand years experience that you are so recognized because you have given God credit for your success. You are asked to stay on. It's a relief at first, no one wants to be let go and many of your colleagues have been fired - the modern day equivalent of being killed or at least having your career killed. You know the new owner's stock dropped when they acquired your company and you know what's next.

Just as Nebuchadnezzar killed many of Judah's nobles to secure, his leadership position, the new firm will fire (put to the torch) large numbers of your collogues to demonstrate to the security analysts back in Babylon (my apologies to New York) that he is stronger than those he supplanted and the new company will be much more efficiently run than it was before. 

Babylon, Inc. stock goes back up. Well, you're staying and that at least shows they think you're bright but now you've been asked to adopt the new firm's ways which may include certain things unacceptable to you. Those new procedures could be modestly self destructive, like being encouraged (and if you don't you're in trouble because the boss does) to inflate your expense account. They might be very destructive, like being asked to procure for clients and senior staff or being asked to give bribes.

Bribes can be rationalized and are an easy pitfall. What constitutes a bribe; a dinner, golf balls, golf clubs? Some will also reason that giving a bribe is not as bad as taking one - falsely believing that causing someone else to sin is not as bad as sinning yourself. I suspect that it is worse to cause someone to sin than to sin yourself. Daniel says that those who lead others to righteousness will be rewarded. I think that those who lead others away from righteousness will get theirs too.

Daniel and his friends were asked to study the new firm's ways for three years. They were told that it was an honor and if they didn't, they would be fired (killed) and times were tough. You're glad to still have a job let alone a Vice Presidency at a major firm. But you cannot allow yourself to learn and/or practice bribery or pandering or blackmail.

Like Daniel, you may need to ask for permission to try to perform without accepting all the new firm's practices (their particular brand of nourishment). You might be better off just to show them that you and the business can succeed without their devices.

Few firms in the United States will come right out and say they use inappropriate practices. Very likely, your avoidance and sacrifice will not be honored by your new associates. You will be perceived to not be a team player, that blanket curse that is used so often to justify corporate executions, but remember - In ten days Daniel was doing better than anyone else and at the end of the third year of training, Daniel went before the Chairman of the Board. The Chairman decided that Daniel and his friends were the best VP's he had, ten times better than the others were. Daniel was asked to stay on at Corporate and thus begins a brilliant career.

© 1999 Ronald Rainson

Business vs. Religion

During the early nineties, I was CEO of a large consulting engineering firm with over 1000 professionals and offices in thirty-one cities. For all our experience, we were naive about international business.

One of our young professionals, while working in Mexico, offered a bribe to a local official. When we questioned him about it, it was clear that he didn't feel he had done anything unethical. He said, "I knew it was bad to take a bribe, but surely it's not such a big deal to give a bribe. I mean, I didn't get anything out of it."

Since he didn't feel guilty, I decided I would. I realized that putting pressure on a young professional to deliver without telling him what ethical standards we expect him to adhere to was contributing to his bad behavior. He'd probably seen J.R. do it on Dallas and it looked pretty clever.

At first, we went for the conventional solution; we developed an ethics manual and accompanying videotape for review by each new employee. Naturally the employees resented it and they expressed that resentment by saying that if we didn't think they were ethical why did we hire them in the first place.

It was then that I made my first of two discoveries about ethical standards; they shouldn't be codified to tell employees what they are not permitted to do but rather, what they may do; what they are encouraged to do. Our company was going to tell them it was OK to be ethical. Sound ridiculous? Consider how regularly your employees are bombarded with negative images of businessmen cheating and being clever at other people's expense. Unless they had a good roll model or large doses of Sunday school, the inexperienced don't know what to do when the pressure is on - especially in an alien culture.

The new standards helped employees who had never thought much about ethics. They might not agree but they at least knew the rules. Oddly enough, for those who had seen a lot of Sunday school, our new standards didn't help at all. This was my second discovery about the shortcomings of conventional legal-based proclamations on ethics. Those who saw themselves as having a good religious upbringing still needed to understand how they could pray each night to be a good Christian and then charge out each morning to beat the hell out of the competition?

Ethical Ambition was written to demonstrate the compatibility of spirtual values with business success and to illustrate that ethics is a function of a higher authority than legal expediency.

© 1998 Ronald Rainson

Attitude vs. Skill

EXCERT from The Christian Executive © 1998 by Ronald Rainson:

Employee's Attitude - Employees should bring two things to the job: a set of skills and the desire to use them. People don't often fail at a job because of their skills; those things are usually well defined and properly documented. An accountant doesn't fail to add or subtract correctly or even decide which account to charge to incorrectly unless he lied about his training. You don't need me to tell you what to do with someone who falsified their credentials. Failing to apply themselves is another matter.

Good Skills & Good Attitude - If a person has the appropriate skills and the desire to apply them to your projects, just get out of their way and let them do their job. If they have neither the skill or the desire, why did you hire them; let them go. You have a responsibility to the shareholders to properly manage the company. You also have a responsibility to the employees. Having determined that a person with skill and desire should be left alone and a person with neither should never have been hired, you're left with only two types of employees that need your attention.

Good Skills & Poor Attitude - You may have some employees that have great skill sets but bad attitudes. They won't apply themselves and they corrupt others. I will work with them at least long enough to find out why they aren't willing to support the firm. It could be some misunderstanding. If you can't figure it out and they won't tell you. They need to go. I have found that most often bad attitude and an unwillingness to support the company's objectives results from their being under-challenged.

Industry can hire a person with a BS in Engineering for almost the same as an electrician and they do so even if they don't need an engineer. Many graduate engineers are assigned to work that a technician could not only do better but he would be proud of the work and excited about getting up everyday. I've seen a lot of engineers in technicians jobs and I've seen a lot of Ph.D. Chemists doing routine lab work. Not only is it a waste of money it is a waste of spirit. Make sure your employees are challenged; make sure they have to stretch to get the job done. Can you imagine how the Apostle Peter felt? One day fishing for fish; the next fishing for men. He was challenged and he rose to the occasion. Had Jesus asked the High Priest Caiaphas I wonder what kind of an attitude he'd have had. You certainly couldn't have told him much yet he certainly had the better resume.

Poor Skills but Good Attitude - The person that needs a little work on their skills but really wants to do a good job is the one I spend serious time on. I have, for example, found natural leaders among organized labor and though they lacked the formal training that would make them a logical choice for management, they have been promoted, given some additional training and done a great job. Remember, leadership can't be trained into you anyway.

There are few compensations for a manager today but one of the best rewards for me is the discovery of a diamond in the rough - you have to find them and reveal them to the world.