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Hello!  We have arrived at our final session in the series, The Reckoning.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed sharing the thoughts, ideas, and the teachings of the Catholic Church related to this ultimate battle for freedom between socialism and virtue in business.

 

The goal is this session is to summarize our learnings in some principles or tenets we can take with us as business leaders and embark toward the front lines of this battle.

 

Socialism is a lagging indicator of injustice.  The debate is no longer about the pursuit of social justice.  Any debate is about the means to that end and socialism is not the answer.  But because business is dismissed by the greater culture as a means to that end, it no longer registers on the radar of options.  Yet truth would hold out business-reclaiming-its-divine-purpose as the means of choice.  Without it, what other viable option exists?

 

Adam Smith saw us clearly.  Heed his warnings.  Reject his folly (that an amorphous morality is all we have with which to operate in a free market), as prophetic as it was.  No fixed set of moral rules, no well-functioning free market.

 

The health and vibrancy of a society is a function of healthy, vibrant, and well-ordered institutions, and because business arguably is its largest institution, the health of our United States depends significantly on the moral character of our business leaders.  The moral health of business and society is manifested in and through business leaders.  Business leaders are cast as the heroes in this battle.

 

Observable hypocrisy by those professing the Christian/Catholic faith has diminished the influence and impact of Christ’s church.  Too often this hypocrisy is on display in the daily practice of our businesses operated on the false ideology that its purpose is to maximize shareholder wealth.  Moral relativism absent truth made way for this ideology and will persist until courageous Christian business leaders expose it to light.  As a Christian/Catholic business leader, it is to this battle and transcendent purpose we are called.

 

Here are 13 Tenets of a transcendent business, a term we can you to describe the desired state of our business as we bring to bear our resources in this ultimate battle for freedom.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Practice virtue at work. They practice prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude perfected by faith, hope, and love.  Prudence, knowing the right thing to do and acting on it, provides the fixed set of moral rules required for a well-functioning free market.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Acknowledge the presence of social injustice and reject the notion that central control of means or distribution germane to socialism is not a viable solution. The injection of Christian love into the economic sector is the answer.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • View the purpose of business beyond the narrow and shallow purpose defined by the dominant ideology – to maximize shareholder wealth. They align their priorities, their values, and their enterprise culture to this redefined purpose.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Embrace their responsibility for the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of those entrusted to their employ.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Practice justice that demands each person receive his or her due as one created in the likeness and image of God and adjusts their policies and practices to align with this concept. They also understand that there are real limits that could put their business enterprise at risk and practice justice within those boundaries.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Temper the onset of pride and do whatever is possible to reduce the response of envy in others to not draw others into sin.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • View people as ends in-and-of-themselves; not simply as means to be used in the pursuit of profit. The flourishing of human beings is the ultimate purpose of a transcendent business.  This requires leaders to be clear, authentic, vulnerable, and empathetic.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Accept their responsibility to protect human dignity in the economic sector and pursue the common good in lieu of abdicating that responsibility to the State or government. This is the manifestation of the Catholic Social Teaching principle of subsidiarity and the Biblical principle of loving your neighbor.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Lead with the specific intent of optimizing cooperation. They recognize that self-discipline is a pre-requisite to effective leadership and that as soon as others are needed to do the work, the primary constraint in their business changes to getting others to cooperate therein.  This connects overtly to concern for the flourishing of employees and other stakeholders in the business.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Pursue solidarity with the poor and underserved in their communities by offering jobs or training programs and create opportunities for employment while protecting the dignity of those in the condition of poverty.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Recognize the need for “patient capital” and the good of diminishing negative returns over a longer period of time to solve some of the world’s and our communities’ biggest problems.

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Earn the trust of workers and create an environment of mutual benefit, justice, and concern for one another centered on mutual respect and service to their collective clients or customers. This applies especially in environments where workers have organized against management – perpetuating what Pope Leo XIII calls the “great mistake.”

 

A Transcendent Business and its leaders . . .

  • Seek to add their own thumbprint as Virtuosos and compete well in ways that bring flourishing to all stakeholders and glory to God in the process.

 

Some of these tenets introduce concepts not covered in this session, but nevertheless, are critical to the transformation of culture in American business.  You can read and learn more about some of these concepts in my latest book, Truth and the Transcendent Business – Heresy or Prophesy? available on Amazon or Audible.  Of course, the School of Business at Benedictine College would love to hear from you and if we can serve to help further your cause and pursuit of this transformation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or to me at dgeenens@benedictine.edu.

 

I’d like to close with one of my favorite quotes from missionary martyr, Jim Elliott, who died at the end of spear with his friends while attempted to reach a tribe of unreached people with the Gospel message in the Ecuadorian jungle: “He is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

 

You are no fool.  We are depending on you, the Christian business leader, to carry forward the flag of freedom, with truth as its mast.  Blessings and God speed.