CEO PLEDGES TO CUT HIS PAY DOWN TO $70k AND RAISE MINIMUM WAGE UP TO $70k

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I pause in the short series on the image of God, the grand biblical themes and the purpose of business because I just could not resist this story that broke earlier this week. It is a story that is worth having a conversation with students.

Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, a firm in Seattle, Washington that processes credit card payments, announced a few days ago that he pledges to raise the minimum annual wage of all 120 workers up to $70,000. To offset this increase he is reducing his own salary from something near $1,000,000 down to the minimum $70,000. The implementation will be phased in over a three year period starting by raising everyone’s pay up to a minimum of $50K. A year later the minimum wage will be %60K. The third year the minimum wage will be $70K.

The issue of the disparity in compensation between the top-level executives and front-line employees has been hotly debated for a few decades. Every year, it seems, stories about disgruntled workers and their opinions on CEO pay are published in the media.

The story along with interviews of Mr. Price can be found on several internet sites. Here is one example:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/business/owner-of-gravity-payments-a-credit-card-processor-is-setting-a-new-minimum-wage-70000-a-year.html

CEOs in some firms make 400 (or more) times what the front-line employees make. One of the arguments in favor of high pay for CEOs is the issue of supply and demand. Market rates reflect the value of the person to the shareholders’ ability to earn cash on their stocks in the future.

Discussion Questions

  • After hearing this story, how interested are you in applying for a job at Gravity Payments?
  • What are some of the other arguments to keep CEO pay much higher than that of front-line workers? Are these valid points?
  • Is this a good thing for the company?
  • Is this a bad thing for the company?
  • After the plan is fully phased in, will Mr. Price ever be able to sell his company?
  • Should CEOs of other companies do the same as Mr. Price has done?
  • What biblical principle may be at work in this story?
  • Is there an opposite biblical principle that is in jeopardy as Mr. Price implements his plan?
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THE IMAGE OF GOD, THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST AND THE PURPOSE OF MANAGEMENT – PART 5

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The next few postings will highlight a few of the “grand themes” of Scripture relevant to defining the purpose of business and the work of the manager. First, I want to share with you how the themes were identified. I didn’t just dream these up. I saw them emerge out of Scripture.

When I looked at Bible passages that describe the character of God, and a second set of Bible passages that describe the identity of Jesus Christ and still a third set of passages that describe the conduct of the faithful follower of Jesus, several themes emerge. One of the themes that emerged is the theme of Truth. Here are sample Scriptures that I noticed.

Character of God = Truth

  • Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth. Exodus 34:6
  • For Thy loving kindness is great to the heavens, and Thy truth to the clouds. Psalm 57:10
  • But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness and truth. Psalm 86:15
  • Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne; Loving kindness and truth go before Thee. Psalm 89:14

Identity of Jesus Christ = Truth

  • And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
  • For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
  • Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. John 14:6

Our conduct = Truth

  • …O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. Psalm 15:1-2
  • Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3
  • Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding. Proverbs 23:23

The question now is what is this idea of Truth all about? At a superficial level we tend to think of truth as meaning telling the truth instead of deceiving. For others it means a set of theological propositions that are accepted as orthodox. Truth involves this, but also has a deeper, more profound meaning relevant in business.

The Hebrew word (emeth) translated into English as Truth really means faithfulness in action when tested by time and circumstances. Truth means being authentic (in terms of the Ten Commandments) and reliable. A person can say a lot (and that is part of truth, too), but it is what the person (or organization) does in action that reveals Truth. Accordingly, Truth is an action idea. We only know that a person is Truth in retrospect. Truth is an important element in God’s government, i.e., he is faithful in action!

Truth as a leadership idea means advancing the cause of faithfulness to commitments in and around the whole community. Truth seems to be the opposite of hypocrisy and if this is true, it is connected with the third commandment. Truth suggests that if a discrepancy is found between an espoused value and a value in practice, the manager will work diligently to take corrective action and close this gap in reality.

Application:

  • Coupled with the biblical idea of loyalty, Truth is the foundation idea for managerial control function and all performance improvement efforts in management. Unless the manager of a process can get to the reality of what is happening, process improvement efforts will be limited.
  • Managers who seek Truth will accept and even look for information that disconfirms their personal biases.
  • When leading an employee through the progressive discipline process the manager of Truth will focus not on ambiguous attitudes but rather on specific, observable behaviors that are relevant to the overall purpose of the organization and its ability to be faithful in its commitments to others outside and inside the organization.
  • The purpose of business, and by extension business managers, as seen through the lens of Truth is to provide one of the structures in society that encourages faithfulness in action, trustworthiness and consistency when values are exchanged.

Openly advocating for Truth can be done in any organization even when it is not appropriate to talk openly about Jesus Christ or religion. When emphasizing Truth, the faithful manager is advocating on behalf of the Character of Jesus Christ. Emphasizing truth shows the plausibility that God’s way for a flourishing life actually is practical. It works!

Questions for Discussion with Students

  • What does it mean to hoard Truth? Could hoarding Truth ever be a bad thing?
  • Where have you recently observed Truth in action in a manager or someone in authority?
  • Where have you experienced the opposite of Truth in a manager? What did you want most in that situation?
  • Where might you apply the principle of Truth in your own experience as a student right now?
  • What role do fellow students have in encouraging Truth in each other? What can you do to help a classmate in this course to hoard Truth?

THE IMAGE OF GOD, THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST AND THE PURPOSE OF MANAGEMENT – Part 4

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Compared with the secular perspectives on management (managerial functions, skills, roles, culture, processes, and organizational level), the biblical perspective sheds a completely different light on the purpose of business.

Last month I introduced the idea that the purpose of management is associated with the image of God and the character of Jesus Christ. Management is an important setting where God is at work restoring His image. Faithful managers become co-workers with God in the process of the restoration of His image in other people, too.

In this posting I will review the various ways that the restoration process is described in Scripture.

The most succinct conceptual description of God’s character to be imitated is the Ten Commandments. (Psalm 119:18, 97, 105) The clearest visible expression of God’s character is Jesus Christ, his identity and his work (John 12:45; 14:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 5:20). It is by beholding God’s character, as shown through God’s actions in Christ in history, that our own characters become changed.

The restoration of the image of God is described in various ways:

  • Establishing a relationship with God by faith (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24)
  • Letting the transcript of God’s character (His Law) restore us (Deuteronomy 6:6; Psalm 19:7)
  • Letting the word of Christ dwell in us (Colossians 3:16)
  • Having Christ live in us (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:20)
  • Putting on the clothing of Christ’s character (Isaiah 61:10; Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27)
  • Beholding his character (Hebrews 12:2)
  • Imitating God; imitating Christ (Leviticus 11:44-45; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:16; 2:21; 1 John 2:6)
  • Having a new heart/mind (Psalm 51:10; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:25; Romans 12:2)

Think about it: If the restoration of the image of God involves the process of character transformation, surely this process is not relegated merely to the time we spend in worship in church one day a week or to the time we spend in personal or family devotions. This process must also extend to the activities of the marketplace.

This suggests something radical in terms of the role of the Christian manager, i.e., the work of a manager is to contribute to the restoration of the image of God not only in ourselves but also in those with whom we associate.

Additionally, this suggests that the core biblical values the faithful manager will foster or advocate will be centered on the character of Christ and his work.

In the next few blogs I will take this thesis one more step by exploring how elements of Christ’s character that are explicitly mentioned in Scripture might be applied.