Flexible Ethics

(Originally Written May, 1997)

This month my wife and I have had to learn to adapt to change and to be “flexible”. Our oldest daughter Kenda, her husband Jason, and her son Caleb, are returning to our city to serve in a local church. They return from nine years in the foreign land of “Texas” where they attended university, seminary, and served on church staff. Our youngest daughter Kami moves into her new apartment, graduates from college, and marries our newest family member Mark, all within fourteen days. Add business travel, mid-year inventory, and speaking opportunities, and you have a continually changing situation.

Last week on the front page of the USA Today, it was stated that nearly two of three adults believe Ethics “vary by situation” or that there is no “unchanging ethical standard of right and wrong”.

VARY”                         “ONE STANDARD”                   “NOT SURE

Age 18-34                                    79%                                     18%                                     3%
35-49                                    64%                                     30%                                     6%
50-64                                    44%                                     46%                                     10%
65-up                                    48%                                     38%                                     14%

It appears that several generations have not been raised which have no moral compass. Webster’s defines flexible as “yielding to influence” or “responding or conforming to changing or new situations”. This sentence exactly describes our nation today! Flexibility is an attribute needed in our fast paced world. However, ethics is defined as “the discipline of dealing with what is good and bad with moral duty and obligation – a set of moral principles and values”. Ethics are based on standards that do not change and cannot be made flexible to conform to any situation.

Unfortunately, in the 90’s the business world has a stronger code of ethics than even the family or the education system. Maybe there is “honor among thieves”. But the business community realizes that, unless there are social and professional ethics and a sense of right and wrong (a code of conduct), only chaos will result. Everyone who believes in a moral philosophy, a moral climate, and moral principles, knows that we must embrace a set of unchanging standards. Even the still small voice of our conscience tells us that there is an inflexible code for living. Jews, Catholics, and Protestants all agree on the rules for living established by our Creator in the Ten Commandments. Those ten simple principles guide not only our relationship with God, but all of our relationships with our fellow man.

If we are to be trustworthy, reliable, dependable, faithful, and honest with our family members, co-workers, vendors, customers, and friends, then we must strive for a common set of values. Our firm’s ten values are based on the Ten Commandments and seek to establish a common ground of foundation and trust. Our family, our ownership, and our management team are committed to living out these values with our co-workers and all business associates. Unless our country, our communities, our businesses, our families, and we as individuals seek to live by “inflexible ethics”, we will surely be destroyed from within.

In closing, let me affirm that none of us is perfect. No one has ever kept all of the Ten Commandments; however, a loving God made provision for our short comings by the sacrifice of His most precious Son. That allows us not only to escape the penalty of failure, but to have the power to live on a higher plane. This subject cannot be discussed here, but I would be glad to dialogue with you personally. Please help me to stamp our “flexible ethics” which are undermining the country that we love.

Inflexible on Principles,

Kent

Click here to download Jacks Value Statement

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About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

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