Guest Post: Marketing Divorce or Losing Your Job? Four Things I Learned When Faced With an Ethical Dilemma
Disclaimer: I haven’t lost my job, and the company I work for isn’t evil in any way shape or form…
In my role I get the chance to work with many unique organizations and dynamic leaders. It’s been an opportunity that has taken me through many industries from insurance, retail, manufacturing, and many more. It’s a great organization and based on previous experiences, I never thought that I’d end up with the dilemma that one day presented itself.
Flash back 6 months prior to that dilemma. I’m sitting on a panel with other business school graduates at an orientation for the incoming freshman class. It was an opportunity to share my experience and give them “insider secrets” from the real working world. I had received the list of questions they would ask ahead of time and was committed to come up with sufficient answers for each of them in order to try and bestow my great knowledge, insight, and humor…you can probably guess how that went. However, one question in particular stood out to me: “What is an ethical dilemma you’ve faced and how did you deal with it?” I remember rolling my eyes and thinking, I can’t wait to get this question because it’s the most over-asked question in all Christian business settings and it rarely applies.”
Fast-forward now and you’ll find me driving to a new client meeting where we typically go over their needs, uncover their challenges, and more importantly, learn how we can help. What I knew going into the meeting was that the company was in the family law industry and they had a new product/service they were trying to market and grow. What I knew after I left was much different.
While there are many necessary services family law attorneys provide, I also learned one of the services they offer is divorce settlements. We were hired to grow the overall business, with an extra emphasis on a new branch of divorce services they had created. In short, I was hired to use my skills and talents to make divorce more accessible, more affordable, and more convenient.
It would be an understatement to say I struggled with this idea. On one side, I’m hurting my company in helping us grow, causing my team members more work to do if I backed out, and doing a disservice to the client. It also meant saying no to a possible raise and promotion. One argument I heard in favor of this service was that, “people are going to get divorced anyway, we’d rather have them go to someone who cares, handles it responsibly and will help make the process as painless as possible.” Something about that didn’t quite settle with me…
Say what you will about divorce rates in the US (for either Christians or non Christians), that’s not the point. I’m sure I could’ve talked myself into justifying this work and washed my hands of it after the fact. However, that would be ignoring everything I believe in. My work is not my identity, but I definitely take pride in the work I do and desire to excel at it. I like to brag about my clients and the awesome work they’re doing. Nothing inside me though could imagine myself speaking proudly about how much I helped facilitate divorces in America! (even if they were going to get divorced anyway). Divorce is something I whole-heartedly hate and my point isn’t to spend this time arguing the biblical stance of divorce, but recognize that for this instance, it was the center and subject of the decision.
It wasn’t difficult to say or think “no, I won’t do this.” It was difficult to tell my boss no, and actually follow through on standing up to that decision despite the cultural pressures and obstacles that present themselves in a very secular work environment. While not easy, it was definitely valuable and here are four things I learned from going through this experience.
1. Tough decisions are not a one time thing and we can’t avoid them
It would be great if we only had to overcome and make one tough decision and then we were set for the rest of life, but we all know that’s not the case. While some might naively try and believe it’s that way, the honest truth is that we will continue to face tough decisions, and we have to deal with them accordingly. We have to face them head on, rather than trying to avoid them.
2. Doing the little things right, makes the big things much easier
This principle applies in so many ways, but even more so in regards to integrity, character, and decision making. There’s this perception that until you have a big platform, opportunity, or decision, the small things don’t really matter. I wholeheartedly disagree. I often find people who say, “I’ll give and tithe when I have the money to do so…” One minor problem–if you can’t tithe with the little amount you are making, how can you honestly expect to tithe when you’re bringing in the big bucks? The same can be said with decision making. We can’t take for granted the small “shortcuts” that we might choose to take on a day to day basis. While they might seem insignificant and small, if we can identify them as sinful and the wrong decision, it will make acting in the right light with big decisions much more challenging.
3. You don’t get a second chance at integrity
Recent events and scandals (Penn State, Bobby Petrino, etc) can attest to the fact that no matter how stoic and well respected someone is, when sin and poor decisions are brought to light, the individuals involved lose credibility as someone people admire and trust. I believe integrity is the foundation of character, and character is what will provide influence, respect, and trust. It’s hard enough to achieve that as it is, let a lone when we selfishly decide to sacrifice our integrity. Recognize you’ll be tried and tested, but hold tightly to your integrity, because you don’t get a second chance at it.
4. You never know what situations God will use to prepare the way
Remember that question I was asked at the panel? The “what’s an ethical dilemma and how did you overcome it” one? I remember my answer like it was yesterday. I said, “I have the opportunity to steal time, money and resources everyday. I’m blessed with a lot of responsibility and freedom and I could choose to abuse it every day. Overcoming large ethical dilemmas isn’t a matter of making the right decisions when they arise, but making the right decisions on a daily basis. No ones suddenly ends up in a place they didn’t want to be, rather they’ve taken small subsequent steps to get there.” While I mocked the question at the time, thinking who actually has huge ethical dilemmas besides people in movies and on TV? Looking back, it’s amazing to see the way God has guided me and prepared the way for the obstacles that would present themselves.
While I might wish this is the extent of tough decisions and ethical encounters for my life, I know there will be many more to come. However, when seen in the right perspective and addressed head on, they are not merely something to just get through, rather they are an opportunity to set an example in how to handle them with integrity and respect.
Drew graduated from Biola University with a degree in Business Administration. He currently lives in Irvine, CA and works full-time for a business consulting firm in Orange County. He attends and serves in many capacities at ROCKHARBOR Church in Costa Mesa, CA. When not working, he’s either playing around with an Apple product, golfing, or drinking lots of espresso.