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October 2, 2023

This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Rev. Dr. Patrick M. Quinn, Century Church

In a world obsessed with market dynamics and profit margins, it’s easy to overlook the spiritual and ethical dimensions of leadership. Yet, as Jesus once taught timeless lessons through simple stories, our modern narratives can offer similar wisdom. Such is the case with the tale of two CEOs, Alex and Chad.

Alex, leading a Fortune 500 behemoth, is solely driven by the bottom line. Employees are treated as mere entries in a balance sheet, valuable only as long as they contribute to profits. “Business isn’t about making friends; it’s about making money,” Alex often remarks. The company soars in Wall Street valuations, but internally it suffers from stress, distrust, and high turnover.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Chad, who leads a smaller enterprise. He places great importance on his employees’ well-being, ethical business practices, and community engagement. His company may not compete with Alex’s in terms of financial performance, but it is rich in employee satisfaction and community respect. Echoing the sentiments of Hobby Lobby CEO David Green, Chad believes, “It’s not what you make, but what you keep, and what you do with what you keep.”

Alex’s myopic focus on profit yields immediate gains but reveals long-term challenges—legal disputes, ethical lapses, and a workforce plagued by low morale. Chad’s philosophy, however, captures a holistic vision of success that enriches lives beyond mere financial metrics. As John Wesley famously advised, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Chad’s leadership embodies this, earning respectfully, saving judiciously, and giving generously to causes and the community.

The theological underpinning of this tale finds resonance in the words of theologian Karl Barth, who observed, “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.” Barth’s wisdom, although not explicitly addressing business ethics, encapsulates the essence of a work environment filled with grace, joy, and a shared sense of purpose—features easily seen in Chad’s company.

Scripture lends further weight to this modern-day parable. Matthew 16:26 asks, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” This verse could easily be a rhetorical question aimed at Alex, whose relentless pursuit of profit seems to ignore the moral and spiritual costs. Chad, conversely, operates with a sense of balance, mindful of not just worldly gains but also eternal values.

This narrative serves as a compass for Christians navigating the complex landscape of contemporary business. It challenges us to ask: What kind of legacy do we wish to leave? A legacy celebrated only in quarterly earnings reports, or one reflected in the well-being of our employees, ethical standing, and social contributions?

The story of Alex and Chad stands as a warning and an inspiration. It highlights that our professional pursuits should align with a higher moral and spiritual calling. It reminds us that the road to true success is paved not merely with good intentions but with responsible actions that echo through eternity.
In the end, as we wade through the challenges and opportunities of modern business, let this parable serve as a reminder. True success isn’t quantified merely in fiscal terms, but in the enduring impact we leave on the lives we touch and the communities we serve.

A few questions for reflection:

  1. Which CEO do you most closely identify with in your approach to work or leadership—Alex or Chad? What steps can you take to align your professional practices more closely with your moral and spiritual values?
  2. How do you interpret John Wesley’s advice to “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can” in the context of your own life? Are there areas where you could improve in earning respectfully, saving judiciously, and giving generously?
  3. Matthew 16:26 asks what it profits someone to gain the whole world but lose their soul. Are there areas in your life where you’re prioritizing worldly success over ethical or spiritual integrity? What changes could you make to bring more balance?

Rev. Dr. Patrick M. Quinn has been in ministry for over 20 years serving in our local area at both FUMC Montgomery and Frazer Church. He is the Founding Pastor of Century Church in Pike Road and has served there as Lead Pastor since its establishment in 2017. He and his wife, Rachael, have 7 children. When not working, writing, or spending time with his family, you can often find him living an adventure at various IronMan competitions with his family cheering him on!

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