Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former 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.
In the investment business, the assessment of qualitative factors such as the motivation and integrity of the CEO are often much more important than the quantitative aspects such as forecasts and budgets. That said, I confess to a strong interest in numbers – both the story they tell and management’s commitment to delivering results.
In this context, a recent opinion piece by John Robson in the National Post concerning truth telling and numbers caught my attention. Entitled “People would be outraged by an honest budget,” the article focuses on governmental budgeting. In Robson’s opinion, these budgets are marketing documents with two objectives – making the government look good and telling voters what they want to hear.
To me, the most intriguing part of Robson’s article was the following statement: “If a budget said, ‘Frankly we don’t know what’s going to happen, but here’s what we’ll spend and here’s a plan to pay for it that we’ll adjust if the creek does rise, or fall,’ there’d be stunned silence followed by outrage. But it would have the virtue of being true. If instead we keep demanding or accepting, smoke, mirrors and post hoc rationalization we’ll get it. But why would we want to?”
A parallel in the spiritual realm is what I call “spiritual budgeting.” In my experience, many marketplace leaders live out the spiritual side of their lives focused on good deeds (revenues) versus misdeeds (expenses) with the goal of producing a “spiritual profit.”
According to the Bible, however, there is literally nothing we can do from God’s perspective to offset our misdeeds. Thus the foregoing concept of a “spiritual profit” is an oxymoron! Without God’s intervention, we are destined to run our spiritual lives in a perpetual deficit.
Nonetheless, many marketplace leaders “keep demanding, or accepting, smoke, mirrors and post hoc rationalization” when it comes to the spiritual. One reason so many prefer this approach is they believe they can control their ultimate destiny. The issue is not, however, which approach is more comfortable. Rather, it is which is true. And, to Robson’s point, why would we want to fool ourselves?
According to the Bible, God and God alone has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus’ sacrificial death. Our role is to accept His forgiveness and follow Jesus. In the following passage, Jesus says that there is nothing any of us can do to earn God’s favour.
“Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my [Jesus’s] way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:25-26, The Message)
How about you? Are you trusting in yourself or in God to make your life spiritually profitable?
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.