by Mark Russell
There are no certainties in the Christian life, and there are no certainties in business. As a result, living as a Christian in the world of business means having to live with a lot of uncertainty.
Years ago a friend, Jim Dotson, was an award-winning, top-selling salesman in the world’s largest pharmaceutical corporation (Pfizer). He was climbing the ranks fast. But with the increased notoriety and pay, came increased demands for more travel, longer hours, and relocation.
Eventually his wife challenged him by pointing out that he wasn’t living according to his faith and his values. Shaken up, he realized she was right and set about to correct his wrongs. Jim began refusing the Saturday morning golf meetings and wouldn’t move yet again for the company cause. (They had moved 9 times in 10 years.)
Paying a Price
The change was met with cold resistance by the management team. He began to be slighted and pushed to the side, he told me. Bypassed for a promotion he deserved, he said he began to realize that he had been stalled on the corporate ladder. Nevertheless, he knew he had made the right decisions.
The minor losses of corporate reputation and (potentially) forfeited financial gain were nothing compared to the increased family time and quality of life Jim enjoyed. Through this process, Jim and Ann decided to adopt a daughter from Russia.
After returning from Russia with their new daughter, Jim was surprised by an emergency meeting with some members of corporate leadership. They falsely accused Jim of using company pharmaceuticals to buy his adopted daughter and immediately terminated him.
Startled and stumbling out the door, Jim’s life and the life of his family had been changed forever. Though his career had been ruined, he retained what was important: his wife, his kids, their new adopted daughter.
Jim’s story demonstrates what can happen when the culture of this world collides with the values of the kingdom of heaven. We can expect trials when we desire to follow the values of Christ. There is a price to be paid as we are salt and light in the marketplace.
More to the Story
Not out of revenge, but out of a desire to protect his reputation, Jim decided to mount a legal challenge to his termination. It cost him a home and ate up his family’s savings. However, after a 6-year legal process that ended at the US Supreme Court, he won his case.* His reputation was rightfully restored.
There is not always a victorious end to every cultural collision in the marketplace. The real economics of living by faith at work are not about accruing status and monies in this world, but about storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20). The returns on our very long-term investment are huge when compared to the short-term gains of this world.
*Editor’s note: For a longer, more detailed account of Jim’s personal experience, click here to read an article from the Raleigh News & Observer. If you are interested in Jim’s case and how it relates to US law and adoption, you may find more information here.
Mark Russell, author of The Missional Entrepreneur, is a widely respected voice in the missional community. He has lived in Russia, Chile, and Germany, and has traveled to more than 70 countries to carry out a variety of business, educational, humanitarian, and religious projects. Contact Mark through www.russell-media.com; www.facebook.com/marklrussell; www.twitter.com/marklrussell.