Ten years ago, the United States endured one of the greatest economic market crashes in its history. The Great Recession brought a severe economic meltdown for the United States, consequently devastating the world market. Although a decade after the recession we may no longer feel its effects, we certainly must not be remiss in recalling the notoriously repetitive nature of history. How do we deviate from a path back to collapse and break the cycle of repetition? What questions should we be asking ourselves? Is there any question that we need more ethical decision-making in financial services?
When I sat down for one of my graduate classes at Wharton, I had a professor who stood in front of the class and put down a large binder. He proclaimed on the first day of class,
Inside this binder are the files of all my students over the past forty years who are now in jail. I’d like you not to be one of them.
This story illustrates the problem we still have in the financial sector today. Finance professionals are facing more pressure to leave their integrity at the front door if they desire to be successful.
How Do We Do Well While Doing Good?
During my time in the financial industry, I have observed that leaders make decisions from the place that they are anchored. For some people that could be their own ethics while for others it could be the aspiration to climb a step up the corporate food chain. What I have seen is that the Christian faith provides believers with the stability needed to navigate the challenges in the financial world.
I also believe kingdom-minded business leaders need to be anchored in community to be the most effective in their work. Throughout my career, one of the practices that has contributed to my professional and personal growth is consistently being in fellowship with other believers in the financial sector. Through this community, we strive to encourage each other in friendship and share about the real situations many of us face every day.
One group that is filling the void in Boston is the Finance and Faith Forum, a community of finance professionals who gather to explore the integration of faith, work, and economics. Its ultimate vision is to:
- See Christians in financial services excel in their vocation
- Find ways to bless others through our work
- Foster meaningful professional and personal relationships among members
As an initiative of Gordon College, the Forum also strives to strengthen ties between the college and the financial services community as well as assist alumni and students in their professional pursuits.
Ultimately, we strive to create an atmosphere where we can make connections, discuss difficult issues, and challenge each other to grow as both professionals and Christians.
The Parallel Biblical Response
Another biblical response to this crisis is for Christians to pursue excellence in their field with integrity. One person that illustrated this was Daniel.
A Jew taken into captivity, Daniel was working for the greatest king in ancient Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon was the most powerful city-state in the region but throughout the Bible it was described as a city filled with evil. The pressure on Daniel to forsake his integrity in the job he did was great. In King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, there was no other god but the king; Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, literally wiping out the house of God. To Daniel, the message from the king was, “submit your life to me or risk death.”
The one characteristic that I believe played a huge role in saving Daniel was the excellence he displayed in his work. Daniel was exceptional in his line of work:
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom (Dan. 6:3).
Daniel knew that in order to survive, he needed to set himself apart in his work.
We all know the ending of the story, but I think it was Daniel’s excellence that helped convince the king to spare him. This story can be a lesson to Christians in the finance world today. Although a room full of secular businessmen may not agree with the virtuous decisions made by believers, I am confident that Christians can win their respect by the exceptional quality of the work they produce.
How Can We Be Praying?
- Pray for the Lord to call kingdom-minded leaders into the financial sector
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to give wisdom and discernment to leaders across the financial sector who are making difficult decisions
- Pray for the unity of believers across the business world to encourage each other and challenge each other
Editor’s note: Learn more about the integration of faith and work in How Then Should We Work?
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