The Gain Ain’t Worth The Pain!

by Lane Kramer

As I look back over the news headlines the last two years, there seems to be a recurring pattern happening with many top business leaders and sports figures- a hearty fall from a place of privilege, wealth and notoriety to a place of public disgrace and ridicule!

Whether it be the senior officers of HSBC Bank who apparently had a hand in manipulating the LIBOR rate, Allen Stanford the investment firm CEO in Houston, the senior investment officer at Warren Buffett’s company who recommended an investment to Berkshire Hathaway that he personally owned or the Executive Leadership of Penn State University who covered up for Jerry Sandusky, all of them have either lost their financial fortunes, positions as leaders, respect from the business public and or their personal freedom because of really BAD decisions they made. When they made these BAD decisions, they probably believed that they could “get away with it” and they would not be found out!

If I could interview each of these leaders now that they have experienced extreme loss, I would ask them if the perceived and or real gain from their actions was worth the price they have paid, are paying or will pay in the future? I think in most cases they would now probably admit that they made horrible mistakes and that if they had a “do over” many of them probably would choose a different course of action.

As business leaders, we have a tendency to believe that we can do anything we want to do in our Companies because it’s MYCompany. Au contraire! A CEO who is a Christian should know better that it isn’t really their company that they are running. It’s God’s company that He has temporarily lent to you to Steward for Him for a brief period of time. He will one day ask you for an accounting of what we did with what HE gave you!

So now that we know the question on the final exam, how canwe prepare ahead of time to give a good accounting for our stewardship. Let me give you some helpful suggestions that I think may help keep us on the right track.

  • Would you be willing to open up every part of your business operation including your accounting records and let The Lord Jesus Christ examine every document, process, procedure? Could you give Him a clear explanation of every detail of your operation that would hold up under the White Glove Test of The Holy Spirit?
  • Would you be willing to let your spouse and friends look at your calendar the last ninety days to see where you have gone, who you have met with and then examine your recent IPhone calls to see who you have been talking to on the telephone?
  • Would you be willing to let your Pastor and friends at Church look at the websites that you have been visiting on both your business and personal computers?
  • Do you have anybody in your life to whom you are accountable for both your professional and personal actions? Your true friends will be willing to help hold you accountable!

If you could give a resounding YES to all four of these questions, then you are probably in pretty good shape with the Lord and your critical constituents. If not, then it’s time to “fess up,” repent (turn from) your wrong conduct and make restitution to anybody you have wronged before you suffer a tremendous fall. Most of the time people will forgive us if they really believe that we are coming clean with them and are prepared to alter our wrong thinking and wrong actions!

Remember the verse in the book of Nahum in the Bible that reads, “Your sin will find you out!” The business and sports leaders mentioned in the first paragraph apparently did not believe this Scripture! But in every case, they were found out!

So before you go for the perceived “gain” the wrong way, consider whether it’s really worth the PAIN that you are ultimately going to experience.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do we have a tendency to think that “nobody will ever know” that I did this action in my business?
  2. How do you keep yourself on “the right track?”
  3. Would you be willing to answer yes to the questions listed above?
  4. Do you believe that at the end of your life that you will be asked to give an accounting for the way you ran your business to The Lord? Why or why not?

Lane Kramer is the President of the CEO Institute in Dallas, Texas. He can be reached at lanek@ceoinst.com