That’s what an executive is: one who makes decisions. Strictly speaking, the good executive only executes the will of others, be it management in general or the board of directors.
Stewardship? That’s the overall term for how we choose to use, moment by moment, all that God places on loan to us, for precisely the purpose of testing the sculpting power of our executive
All of us, of course, are just such executives, with God’s will as the mandate given us to execute. All of us, too, are just such stewards, for we each carry about within us God’s investment of life, time, and talent. All work is alike, not in form or content but in essence. Whatever work we do puts our selves into the service of others and at the same time sculpts the kind of self each is becoming. No matter what our work is.
But certain jobs unite work and wage (and price) in someone’s decision. Some workers have been given talents that push them to the top, as we are likely to view it, of the economic structure. They have the awesome obligation of setting wage and price scales for employees and products. Theirs is the gift for merging all economic variables into price tags and wage rates—and their choices are as sculpting of their own selves as any others. Conscience sets before these executive stewards an ideal free-economy goal of (1) the best product; (2) produced under the best working conditions for all employees, including themselves; (3) at the best wage for everyone involved; and (4) reflecting the best efforts at every job, to be sold at the lowest price compatible with these requirements.
The twin tracks of work and wage do not meet, and cannot be scientifically related. They are bridged by morality, not by mathematics. And it is in the self-sculpting choices of wage and price scales that managers must make the twin tracks merge — under the all-seeing eye of God. It is here that justice, as defined by the will of the Creator and revealed in his Word, comes to bear upon the economy.
The executive who seeks to avoid responsibility for his choices by seeming to let the market, or what the traffic will bear, or what necessity will oblige employees to accept become his conscience is in fact putting his choices in the service of idols—and idolatry is no more acceptable to God in board rooms and executive suites than it is in the shadowed temples of paganism. Setting wages and prices, while keeping an industry or business sound and healthy, is far from easy. Failures occur. But conscience sets before managerial executives the goal of the ideal sketched above, challenging them to make their wage and price decisions with an eye fixed on justice. Such decisions sculpt selves destined for beatitude.
Executive stewardship involves us all, of course.
Have we always envied “big” names? Always wanted to be responsible for really important decisions?
Well, we are. Each of us is! Upon our decisions hangs the destiny of a human self—our own self—of more importance Jesus says than the whole world besides.
Have we always wanted to be noticed, to be watched by important people, to “play” before a really significant audience? Well, we do. Each of us does. We live our lives, inside and out, in the omnipresence of God! We “play” every moment before an Audience of One—who holds our destiny in his hand!
Aware of that, we should live our lives as wholly unto him, every moment. It all comes down, day by day, moment by moment to executive decision!
This is an adapted excerpt from Work: The Meaning of Your Life by Lester DeKoster.
Photo credit: Marc Bruneke