“Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

— Luke 19:30–31

JESUS THE BORROWER

The day I was made CFO of Foot Locker, our banks wanted to renegotiate our credit agreements. We were in a very difficult financial position, and this meeting on my first day was going to be tough. Our assistant treasurer at the time was an executive named Peter Brown. In my previous meetings with Peter, I had gained a great deal of trust in and respect for his abilities. He was a clear thinker and had established himself in the financial world as being exceedingly honest and smart. I put him in charge of negotiating the new agreement. On top of that I asked him to get a $25 million cushion, knowing full well that just getting the agreement done would be hard enough. Peter accomplished both. A new credit agreement and a $25 million cushion that we would desperately need in the future months.

“But without that first meeting, where his reputation ruled, we would never have been successful.”

Peter didn’t get the new agreement because we were financially stable. Peter got the agreement because he was well respected by the banks. In the past he had lived up to his word. He had been unusually frank and sincere in all previous discussions. He hadn’t over committed. In fact, his favorite saying was “Under promise and over deliver.” The banks could gauge this and relied on his past. We had a tough year—my first year as a public company CFO—nearly falling countless times. Peter was there with me, guiding and helping. But without that first meeting, where his reputation ruled, we would never have been successful.

“Jesus’ reputation allowed him to borrow without questions, even a prized colt.”

Imagine having the power to ask for a brand-new colt and then receiving it. In the ancient Judean world, livestock was precious. It was that world’s alternative form of currency. But Jesus was able to ask and receive. He needed a colt on which to ride into Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday. A victory lap of sorts. Why would anyone give up a brand-new colt, a precious piece of their wealth? Because the Lord needed it for a few hours. Jesus had a great reputation among the working class. They flocked to hear him. They would gather for his sermons. They trusted Jesus. He was well known in this ancient marketplace. Jesus’ reputation allowed him to borrow without questions, even a prized colt.

“Our reputation dictates our creditworthiness, not our net worth.”

While banks and accountants will do the figures and determine if we can borrow, it’s our reputation that dictates if we can. Consider the FICO score we all have with the credit reporting agencies, like Experian or TransUnion. The score is based on our behaviors not our wealth. A score below 700 and we will find it difficult to borrow. Above 800 and we could borrow most of what we need. When we don’t pay our bills, our score goes lower. When people have to chase us for money, it goes even lower. Our reputation dictates our creditworthiness, not our net worth. In my counseling activities, most of the time I am not surprised when I see someone’s credit score. Who they are is reflected in their score.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

PARTING THOUGHTS

What is our credit score?

Why is reputation more important than the numbers?

When did Jesus return the colt?

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