Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
Recently, I was reflecting on the topic of the universal (though not universally recognized) need for God’s forgiveness. It seems to me that many marketplace leaders treat this issue like a “contingent liability.” In other words, they believe that they may or may not need God’s forgiveness based upon their conduct.
For readers unfamiliar with accounting terminology, a financial liability is “a claim against the assets, or legal obligations of a person or organization, arising out of past or current transactions or actions. Liabilities require mandatory transfer of assets, or provision of services, at specified dates or in the determinable future.” (BusinessDictionary.com).
“Contingent” liabilities appear as notes to the financial statements. They are intended to warn the reader that if certain events go the wrong way, these contingent liabilities could become actual liabilities on the balance sheet. On the other hand, if events work out in the company’s favour, the contingent liability evaporates. Thus the amount and timing of liability is uncertain because it is contingent upon the unfolding of future events.
For example, lawsuits against a company commonly appear as contingent liabilities. If the plaintiff is successful, lawsuits can morph from contingent liabilities into devastating actual liabilities. The Loewen Group was a Canadian-based funeral home operator which expanded into the United States in 1987. In 1995, a funeral home operator in Mississippi won $500 million in damages in a breach of contract suit. This setback led to a downturn in the company’s fortunes, culminating in its filing for bankruptcy protection in 1999.
Liabilities on my spiritual balance sheet cannot be offset by good deeds.
From experience, most marketplace leaders who acknowledge the existence of God (the majority) appear to be operating on the assumption that there is no actual liability on their spiritual balance sheet. At best, there is a potential liability that is contingent upon their overall life conduct. Thus, without much thought, they assume that they can offset potential liabilities by performing good deeds.
Based upon the Bible, however, any conduct whatsoever that does not live up to God’s righteous standards is a liability or debt owed and repayment is mandatory. It is not a contingent liability but an actual one, since 100% of us will eventually die, at which point the debt is due. Good deeds such as sitting on a hospital board of directors and/or making large financial donations, while commendable, will not satisfy this debt.
How can this liability be eliminated, since the Bible is clear that good works will not cut it? The almost too good to be true news is that Jesus, the Son of God, has repaid our debt in full – past, present and future – through His death on the cross. However, we must appropriate the benefit of His sacrifice by agreeing that we are going the wrong way and trusting in Him not only to satisfy our liability but also to lead us going forward.
How about you? Are there liabilities on your spiritual balance sheet? If you are unsure but wish to explore further, I encourage you to join one of our professional peer groups.
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.