When you see sin in your family or in your church, what should you do? Mary Gentile is a senior research scholar at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Her book Giving Voice to Values will be published by Yale University Press in September 2010. For four years Dr Gentile has been studying “the moments when people decide whether to speak up about an ethical issue, and what they say when they do.” Her research has been focused on businesses and corporations. However, her findings also have a convicting and challenging message for pastors and elders. In fact all Christians regularly face this dilemma, in their families and workplaces as well as in their churches. We encounter an ethical problem. We know we should speak up. But we start hearing powerful arguments, from within and without, as to why we should stay silent. In the March issue of the Harvard Business Review Magazine, Dr Gentile identified the four classic arguments for keeping silent. 1. It’s not my job. You don’t have to be a seasoned staff member, an expert, or have formal authority to raise a flag. Doing the best thing for the company is always your job. 2. It’s not a big deal. If you’re telling yourself that, it probably is a big deal. Instead of downplaying the severity of the issue, focus on trying to find a resolution. 3. It’s standard practice. Even if your company has always done it a certain way, if it’s creating a problem now or in the future, challenge the status quo. 4. I want to be loyal. Many times people feel there is a conflict between doing what’s right and being loyal to their coworkers, manager, or company. Though this question of loyalty may at times represent a true ethical dilemma, it is often just a rationalization.
Sound familiar?Dr Gentile’s motivation is “to help younger managers raise their voices when they should and help senior managers build a strong, honest organizational culture.” May God also use her research to similarly impact pastors, elders, and the Church of Christ. And, in the shadow of Calvary, may God also give us the grace to begin with our own personal sins and our own “skillful” rationalizations.
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