Tuesday, May 14, 2002
The financial collapse of Enron's energy empire sent shock waves through America's financial community. When questions began to arise about the practices of Enron's accounting firm, the damage from the quake spread faster and farther. That firm has been one of America's "Big 5," doing both the accounting and financial consulting for some of this country's biggest corporations. It may take many months, even years, to sort out what really happened. But the questions alone have had a devastating effect, with client after client bailing out of their relationship with the accounting firm, leaving it severely crippled. And it all happened so fast.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "When Trust Is Lost."
That's what happened when all the questions about an accounting firm's integrity arose - trust was lost. And when trust is lost, sometimes all is lost. Not just for companies, but for individuals, too. That's why it's so important that you and I make integrity and honesty our non-negotiable bottom line in everything we do or say.
There's a shining example of that in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 8:20-21. The Apostle Paul has collected a large offering from many sources to help the believers in Jerusalem who are really hurting from persecution. Notice how he takes the high road in how he handles this money.
Paul says that Titus "was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering which we administer in order to honor the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right (and honestly, sometimes it is a pain to do what's right, but he says to do what is right) not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men." Paul makes sure that he does not handle this money alone - that there is a person selected by others to accompany him on this relief mission. Smart man. Paul knows what we dare not forget - a reputation, people's trust in us takes years to build - and only a day to lose. So he is taking every precaution to insure that there cannot even be a question about his integrity.
So should we. Yes, when it comes to handling money, but also in how we handle everything. The Bible describes integrity as the inner guidance system of a person God and people can trust. Proverbs 11:3 says, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed in their duplicity." That's why it is so important that you only make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make - whether it's to your boss, your business associate, your mate, or your child. Don't risk the trust people have in you by showing partiality, by being slippery with the truth, with deceptive practices, with a hypocritical difference between what you say and how you really live.
Trust is the glue that holds relationships together. And it's too precious to lose no matter how great the short-term gain may seem to be by compromising what's right or what's true. Don't leave people wondering, "Now should I believe what he just said?" "Can I trust what she just told me?" No - always take the high road, no matter what it costs, no matter how long it takes. Because when trust is lost, everything can be lost.