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Integrity Under Fire

November 1, 1995

© 1995 by Nick B. Nicholaou
Ministry Business Services, Inc. President
Reprinted from Christian Management Report

There are times when, as a Christian with an entrepreneurial heart, I must depend on my instincts to guide our ministry. There are other times, however, when I must rely upon the guidance of wise counselors as I seek to honor the LORD. This is a story about when wise counsel helped me choose a path which not only honored God, but which God Himself chose to honor. Ours is a management consulting firm to which many ministries turn. Some time ago we were considering adding to our services computer training for off-the-shelf programs such as word processors, spreadsheets, desktop publishers, etc. While considering this option, we were introduced to a Christian-owned company that already did what we were considering. We decided it would serve our clients better if we referred them to the already-established training program. We negotiated a good discount for our clients along with a small referral fee. We sent out mailers and made many referrals to The Great Training Center (the names have been changed to protect the innocent!), but our referral fees became inconsistent. Upon follow-up we were told that we had clients attending classes there and that a check would be forthcoming. After a few months, however, it became apparent we would not be getting paid what had been negotiated.

What to do… What to do…
As CEO, I considered what I believed our options to be. Going to court was out of the question, because the one with whom we had a dispute was a Christian, and Scripture speaks clearly against taking a brother to court. Then I learned that our Christian friend had taken on a non-Christian partner who was handling all of the financial aspects of their business. Could we now take them to court? What about arbitration?

I took the situation to our Board of Directors. I laid out the history, my impressions, and my inclinations. I then asked them for counsel, and was surprised at the results, some of which played out years later.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
Our Board immediately took the situation in a direction that I hadn’t considered. They asked me what I believed the likelihood was that we’d ever get paid our referral fees. I told them I didn’t think there was much of a chance, even if we pursued it through the legal or arbitration system. Based on that response, they counseled me to forgive the debt, brother to brother. They rehearsed with me how generous fellow Christians had been with their time in helping guide our ministry’s formation, and how generous the LORD had been.

Looking to Scripture
We then looked to Scripture for guidelines. God’s Word is very clear on this subject.

  • In the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:4) we are told to pray “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”
  • In Luke 6:36-37 Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
  • On top of that, in Mark 11:25 Jesus said, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

As one under authority, I did as our Board counseled: I sent the Christian brother who originally owned The Great Training Center a letter letting him know that we had forgiven his debt, just as Jesus had forgiven ours.

What a blessing!
I ran into him a couple of years later at a Christian management conference. He thanked me for our loving response to him during a very difficult time in his life. He was also buying into an existing for-profit ministry that he asked if we’d be interested in. It would only require being available to do some public relations work, and we’d be fairly compensated. He assured me we would not have a similar experience as before. I agreed.

Blessing upon blessing!
The great blessing was how our response had ministered to a brother in one of his darkest hours. A secondary blessing, and one that was completely unexpected, was the work we would do for a subsequent venture of his and the incredible affect it would have on our ministry. In fact, we now receive more ministry referrals and opportunities through that one source than through nearly all others. God chose to bless us for honoring Him and His principles.

We’re reminded in Scripture to seek the wise counsel of our brothers and sisters. When uncomfortable decisions come up, ask some whom you trust to give you objective, Christian counsel. Asking for counsel is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. By doing so, more of your decisions may turn into multiplied blessings!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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