Building a Foundation of Justice and Righteousness to grow your Business

According to biblical scriptures, the foundation of God’s kingdom is righteousness, justice, and love. (Psalm 89:14) And I just pulled out, and you could use any app you want, and just do a word search on the frequent reference to justice and righteousness. If we want to bring forth God’s kingdom into this world and into our business, the very foundation that we would operate from must include justice and righteousness. That is one of the impacts and influences, that we bring. If you want to have people feel deeply and strongly about how, if they are mistreated, think of what has been going on as it relates to justice, and thinking about how it relates to righteousness. Thinking in our own families, if you have young children and you are going through and you are disciplining them. The most eager response I ever got when I had the young children was if they felt that they were not being unjustly treated. “You told me I’m going to get dessert and I’m not getting dessert. What’s this all about?”

But that’s because God put that in us. God’s own character and nature is about justice and righteousness, and we are made in his image so are the people around us, they’re looking for justice and righteousness. Our goal, and a purpose for being is to bring justice and righteousness to the best of our ability through discernment into this place we live. And so, a key part of the business practices should be, how do you bring justice and righteousness into your business? How do we establish and then measure with metrics justice and righteousness into the business operations for the entire business to participate in?

What is Justice and Righteousness

So, part of what I looked at is maybe there’s a lawyer here, maybe not, but what is justice? You might ask, what is justice? So, justice is judgment. It’s law, regulation, prescription, specification. It’s to make right. It’s a relational term. So, in the bible book of Genesis a key was to seek justice, a right relationship with God.

One of the definitions of ministry we talked before is that business is a ministry. Well, I heard this at the event last Friday, this is really good. Ministry is anything we do to facilitate relationship with God. Any ministry is going to facilitate a relationship with God. So, in our business, if our goal is to facilitate people’s relationship with God, that’s why you have a ministry in your business.

If you were to do a bible word search, justice shows up 130 times, righteousness shows up 213 times and righteous 493 in the NIV. We could pull up any bible app, and if you look for righteousness and justice, you will find hundreds of references. As an example, in Romans, it says “We are a slave to righteousness.” In Proverbs 21:21, here’s a really good one, “Whosoever pursues, righteousness, and love finds life, prosperity, and honor.” It’s the very foundation. I think we need to spend a little bit more time in our business, determining how are we implementing righteous, and justice, and love in our business? What we did is we identified specific performance metrics about how we would bring righteousness and justice and apply it into our business, and that includes even with our customers.

If you think about customers, is that, in our case, and in yours, we had a set of customers, we were very fortunate to have. People knew who we were, what our culture was, and customers would be drawn to us. I’m talking government customers as well, including municipal, state, federal representing 60%, with 40% being commercial, but even government was drawn to us. But we then had these customers who proved to be very trustworthy and righteous themselves. We also had some customers, and it’s not good to categorize specific types, but maybe they were unrighteous developer types.

Customers can be Righteous or Unrighteous

Anyways, but what they were known for, in business is that the deal was never the deal at the end. The deal was anything they needed it to be at the end so that they came out correct. That could be, for instance, somebody, and in this case, it was a big developer in upstate New York, and he hired us to do some work on a big development. But what we found is that what we thought as what the contract was is really not the contract, and that is that he would come back to all of his subcontractors and renegotiate whatever the compensation was for the work you did based on how he came out on the job.

How to manage righteousness into a business

That was unrighteous. Now, that may have been typical, in his mind he thought it was very typical. We should have known that. But you may, and there may be markets where that kind of thing exists. So, even not just in how we implement it, but how do we expose our employees, and our team, and our company in that culture? We ultimately decided that we would either walk from those opportunities, or, based on that really bad experience that truly came that close to bankrupting and destroying our company, is we got really good at risk management, and we got really good at going through contracts and saying, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Interestingly enough, I don’t think we ever really lost a customer over the contract negotiation.

In the end, what I found is that we had such value that we brought forth, that we would negotiate the terms a bit, and we would take some risk, but almost always, it came back to our favor. But, because we had the understanding, and we had the conviction, and we had the knowledge to bring forth. And so, it really challenged us to think about that righteousness and justice in our business and to identify some performance metrics for employees, for what we’re bringing forth for our customers. I shared another example before is that in serving our customers, if our team ran into struggles and they didn’t meet their project performance objectives, financial performance objectives, they would start raising concerns. Is that okay, Jim? Requesting our risk management team, to go file a change order with this client because of such and such reason.

Initially we just said, oh yeah, we have got to do that. But as we became more focused on our foundation of righteousness and justice, I started to look at the situation from a 360-degree view, which I think is very important for discernment. The bible shares that we are to “Bring forth the kingdom.” That “My ways are not your ways” and “My understanding is higher than you’re understanding.” So, part of our faith walk in this is to apply, as best we can, Jesus’ view of this situation. I started looking at it from a 360-degree view as like, okay, yeah, I could see the argument on our side that’s a good change order. But then, I would take a view on from the client/owner’s perspective and study the contract and say, well, from his view, it says right here that we were already to have done that or to have addressed that. So, as a result we’re not going to file a change order, as it was already dealt with in the contract.

Righteous verses Unrighteous Gains

Now, would it have benefited us to submit that change order? Yes, it would have, but it would have been an unrighteous gain. So, one of the performance metrics that we would have in our businesses deals with avoiding unrighteous gain situations. Yeah, unrighteous gain can provide a temporary reward, but in the long haul, when we’re trying to impact and influence God’s kingdom on earth. Unrighteous gain should be avoided and should be eliminated from our business practices, our reputation is at stake.

Righteousness is the quality of state of being morally correct, and justifiable. A synonym with righteousness, or being upright, or being upright and right standing. And I’ve heard that as it relates to our relationship with God, we want to be in right standing. And so, as we use that example in our business, we need to be making those decisions that prepare us, position us in this right standing with God. Over and above, the financial performance objectives alone. Right?

Now, as we’ve talked before, we have financial performance objectives. We had profit, we had numerous others. We used to have like 10 financial performance objectives that we would target each year. It’s not that we’re not going to meet those objectives or be profitable it’s more how are you’re going to get there. Especially over the longer term of business.

The end result shouldn’t be used to justify the (Unrighteous) means used to get there

When you serve God’s kingdom first, (Matthew 6:33) the ends don’t justify the means. Meaning as we go about doing our business, the means of doing our business, we can’t use the desired end result as a justification for unrighteousness applied means.

As an example: I can look at the business, and in the last year, we didn’t bring forth righteousness and justice. BUT we met our financial goals, and as a result of meeting our financial goals, I’m going to tithe and give away 10% of that profit. So, under that thinking this generosity and giving justifies my actions (unrighteous) during the last year. In the kingdom business, the positive end result can’t be used to justify means of getting that result if done in an unrighteous manner. The means are the way in which we conduct the business. Buying of sinful “indulgences” or passes for immoral behavior’s is not Godly.

So, we need to start thinking through how we actually implement these core biblical principles into our business, and to share it with the team. In the example above the teams thinking wasn’t completely off, because they wanted to make sure we met our financial objectives. It’s just that they moved outside of the Companies culture and values, and the how we go about conducting the business.  And it was a great teaching and learning experience when we said “No,” and they were like, “Oh. Oh, okay. I guess we don’t do that.”