One Christmas morning, I got out of bed thinking about how I could better express the spiritual activity of Christmas. I had recently been praying about will and willfulness, to know that God's will is simply the activity of Love for us all. In reaching for some practical guidance that morning, a clear thought popped into my head. It was what the angels said in announcing the first Christmas: "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace, good will to men."
I realized I had a sense of peace about our family holiday, so the next step was for me to focus on glorifying God in the highest, and actively expressing God's good-will to everyone around me. This was a lovely way to begin that Christmas, and I realized that angel message was a gift, a gift of God coming into everyday life.
Some months later, I was preparing to distribute some written materials at a professional conference. In considered my strategy, I briefly questioned spending a substantial sum of money for a quality printing and binding of these materials. I realized I had no real expectation of financial return from the whole venture, yet it still seemed like the right thing to do. I thought about why it seemed to make sense to give away this value. I realized it was simply good-will.
As you may be aware, there is a category on corporate balance sheets where you can assign financial value to the good-will a company may hold. I realized that I was simply making an investment in good-will, and that good-will is a legitimate part of an effective business activity. Then I remembered what I'd learned about expressing the activity of Christmas: "Glory to God in the highest, peace on Earth, and good will to men." This heightened my realization that good-will is an important component of all true business activity.
This realization led me to pay even more attention to this guidance, and I've relied on it completely ever since. Now, sometimes many times a day, I refer to this. I could almost say it has become my business mantra: "Glory to God in the highest, peace on Earth, good will to men."
In applying this, my understanding of it goes like this. "Glory to God in the highest" has three parts to it. First, strive to glorify God in everything you do. Second, when things work out well (as they surely will), be alert to always give God the glory. Third, and this one sometimes requires a transcendent view of things, realize that God is being glorified everywhere around you right now. There is nothing going on anywhere but the glory of God.
Of course, "peace on Earth" means to always make sure I'm at peace with everyone. Sometimes this is a reminder not too get peeved or to be too rambunctious in dealing with others, even when situations look like they need a strong hand.
And lastly, "good will to men." Early in the Bible, it mentions the idea of dealing with one another "kindly and truly." Most people recognize the value of honesty in business life. But sometimes human honesty isn't enough to bring a solution. In fact, being brutally honest can be brutal; it can make others feel brutalized. Our honesty always need to be put in balance with genuine good will.
In my business, a commitment to truth is an important element of success. So I need to make sure that, after or before I've done some real truth telling, I'm also investing heavily in the good-will side of the ledger. Dealing with others "kindly and truly" brings the balance required to find real solutions.
In putting together contracts, it is OK to drive a hard bargain. But after that, you can make it a sound business activity by putting some good-will into the equation. Deliver more than you promise; add something extra; don't be too exacting in settling accounts.
So now it comes full circle. Rule number one is, "Figure out what business you are in, and then mind your business." When you really find out what business you're in, you'll realize it's your Father's business. You are in the Christmas business (there is really no other true business activity going on anywhere). And how do you practice your Father's business? It's simple: "Glory to God in the highest, peace on Earth, and good will to men."
Copyright 1999, Jim Chapman. Reprinted by Permission.
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