IS the gospel valid today? Does it apply to corporate America? Can we expect to see God's hand operate in our daily business dealings with colleagues, clients, and competitors? Or are the gospel admonitions just nice-sounding platitudes to be preached on Sunday and forgotten on Monday? I had an opportunity to find out. I managed a department that was responsible for bringing the company into compliance with federal law regarding minority employment. I met immediate opposition from a colleague who told me privately that he was in a position to make my job very difficult if I should attempt to comply with the law.
Prayer in response to antagonistic business situations is normal for a Christian Scientist. So I prayed. I remembered that Christ Jesus gave us alternatives to what has been described as ``fight or flight'' behavior. For example, on one occasion he told his listeners: ``If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.''1
At first I couldn't see how to do this in the face of my colleague's opposition. But as I continued to pray, I realized that Christ, Truth, is an active agent, establishing Christly qualities of honesty, compassion, humility, brotherly kindness, in my thought and in everyone's. And I began to see that we all, as spiritual ideas of our Father-Mother God, live and work in the kingdom of God, in the atmosphere of intelligence, integrity, justice. We can claim the peace and power of the kingdom of God as our own work environment.
``The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable,''2 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. We don't have to love an uncooperative nature or a malicious attitude. But we can certainly look for and cherish man's Christliness as our original and permanent nature.
In God's kingdom, man is governed by his creator, divine Love. No lesser impulse can empower or motivate man. The children of God's creating are the offspring of Love -- and I began to see that this had to include my colleague as well. I was getting closer to understanding how to obey Christ Jesus' direction in Matthew without being belligerent or combative myself. If there is no fear, no envy, no antagonism in my motives, then no fear, nor envy, nor antagonism in another could touch me. I couldn't be harmed by another's hatred or malice if I held no hatred nor malice in my own thought.
Neither fight nor flight was appropriate in dealing with this situation. Trying to push my view and bulldoze through his blockade wouldn't make this colleague a cooperative compatriot, even though I had the full force of U.S. federal regulations and senior management backing my efforts. Fleeing to the safety of a less controversial project wasn't the answer either. Any endeavor would be futile unless motivated and empowered by love and obedience.
It wasn't easy, but I spoke to my colleague in private. He held firm to his unwillingness to support the project. I seemed to be at an impasse: if I did not implement the program, then the company could be in jeopardy legally, minority employees would be deprived of benefits due them, and I would be neglecting an important part of my job. Most important to me, I would be passing up an opportunity to prove the gospel.
I then invited two company officers to meet with my colleague and me regarding the implementation of this program. This may have been an assertive step, but it was certainly not malicious. At the meeting, the officers requested the full support of all management to comply with this program, and they wanted to know who was trying to undermine my efforts. However, it wasn't necessary for me to expose him. I simply stated my intention to clarify the company's responsibility without placing blame on anyone.
My adversary gradually became an ally, a supportive colleague. On several occasions over the next five years he and I worked together with my department on many projects as teammates.
Our gospel directives are sound and valid guides to the challenges of today's corporate business dealings. And they certainly provide a superior alternative to either fight or flight behavior. Our daily ethics, if based on New Testament guidelines, contain the power of divine Love to bless all.
1Matthew 18:15, 16. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 192.
The Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine, contains more articles about God's power to heal. BIBLE VERSE I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies.... And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? ... But love ye your enemies, and do good...; and your reward shall be great.
Luke 6:27, 31, 32, 35