A man went into the local Big and Tall Man's store several
times looking for a job. Finally, on his seventh visit, the
store's owner told him, "I will tell you what. I have this
suit here on the shelf that has been here for years. I cannot
find anyone to buy it. I have some errands to run, so if you
will watch the store while I am out, you will get your chance.
If you can sell this suit while I am gone, you will have
yourself a job."
A few hours later, the store's owner returns to find the man
grinning from ear to ear, his clothes in shreds.
The owner was horrified, "What in the world happened to you?"
The man responded, "I sold the suit!"
The owner queried further, "Okay, you sold the suit, but what
happened to your clothes?!?"
"Well," he said nodding, "The guy loved the suit, but his
seeing eye dog was really mad."
How many half-truths or white lies would you have told to get
the sale and the job? I hope your answer is "None." But, the
truth is, not everyone is that honest.
Did the wannabe sales person tell the blind man that the suit
was ugly? Not very likely. But hey, the customer was blind and
did not know it was an ugly suit. And his friends probably won't
say anything to him about the suit since they know he is blind.
Further, the blind man did love his new suit! So, what could be
wrong with this?
All too often in the business world, honesty is not black and
white, but various shades of gray. People who consider
themselves Christians think little or nothing of exaggerating
the features or benefits of a product or service they are
selling. They believe "white lies" are ok. They reason with
themselves that "Everyone else is doing it."
But of course as Christians, we have an extra obligation to be
honest in all our dealings with others, regardless of whether
they will ever know or not. We are called to live to a higher
Colossians 3:22 says:
"Obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not
only when their eye is on you and to win their favor,
but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord."
If you find it difficult to avoid exaggerating and telling
little "white lies" in the course of your daily living, you
will be challenged even further when your family's well-being
and lifestyle are on the line. The responsibility of taking
care of your family could very well push you to make decisions
in your work you would probably never make outside of your job
In our story above, our salesman isn't even trying to justify
his actions based on truth and honesty. He did not feel a need
He told the truth when he pointed out how well the suit fit the
man. This truth would have been something the blind customer
could have attested to by the feel of the fit. So you could
say our salesman was honest in this regard.
When our salesman told his customer the suit looked good on
him, how could he have done so if honesty was in his heart?
This was not even a "white lie", but an outright lie. Even
the store's owner agreed with the seeing eye dog --- it was
an ugly suit!
In the real world of business, a "white lie" could be something
as simple as what is considered Standard Operating Practice in
the car sales industry. If a buyer tells the salesman he wants
this model in "blue", the car salesman is instructed to tell
the customer that he can get this car in "blue", and proceed
to show the "white" car as a sample. When all is said and done,
the car salesman is instructed to sell the customer the "white"
car because that is the one in stock. In the car sales industry,
it is assumed that the client does not really care whether the
car is "blue" or "white". Therefore, it is okay to tell the
customer a little "white lie" about whether they can get the
customer a "blue" car or not.
Of course, this is only an example. Hundreds of examples exist
in every industry, where the little "white lie" is considered
okay and just a part of the industry's Standard Operating
Procedures. I am certain that if you applied just a few minutes
of consideration to this question, you could think of dozens of
examples within your own business where the little "white lie"
is a perfectly acceptable means of conducting business.
The desire to be looked upon favorably by your customers and
your co-workers is strong. Yet, you must always exercise
caution in the statements you make, because failure to meet
the expectation when you have exaggerated your ability to
reach it, hurts your status and your business more in the
long run, than complete honesty up front.
This is back to Business 101 --- "Under Promise and Over
Deliver." It is imperative to the long-term viability of
your business to meet the expectations you sell to your
customers. Your clients have a strong need in being able
to trust in you and your business.
Whether you are a Christian or not, "white lies" and
"exaggerations" systematically erode your most valuable asset
--- your customers' and co-workers' faith in you. Can you
really afford to pay the long-term price of this sort of
behavior? Each time you find yourself in the position to have
to make this choice, the final decision will be yours to make.
"I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God
and man." --- Acts 24:16