“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

— Luke 14:34–35

SALT AND HONOR

When my daughter was a sophomore in college, Wells Fargo gave her a credit card. She had no income, other than what her parents sent her as an allowance. Not knowing that the credit card existed, I was surprised to receive the bill. When I asked my daughter the circumstances, she told me she had been pre-approved, and when she went to the local branch, they gave her the credit card. How did they do their income check? How did they know if she could pay them back? They didn’t, and my daughter had just learned a hard lesson. My question was, why would one of America’s largest banks be so sloppy? 

“Wells Fargo had lost its saltiness and honor in the pursuit of profits at any cost.”

]Wells Fargo had survived the great bank crisis of 2008, better than all the other banks. In fact, they needed no government help. This was largely attributable to their CEO, John Stumpf. His steady hand guided through and around all the pitfalls of bad lending practices in the early 2000’s. But in 2016 the bank was exposed as issuing bad credit cards to people who neither wanted them nor could afford them. Five thousand and three hundred people were fired. John Stumpf, the once great icon of responsible banking, lost his job as well. A lifetime’s impeccable reputation down the drain. Wells Fargo had lost its saltiness and honor in the pursuit of profits at any cost. A corporate culture emerged away from responsible business practices and toward treating customers like they were apples to be picked. After the news of the scandal broke, the bank’s stock fell very far. 

“Jesus cautions us avoid those paths that take us away from our core value of honor.”

Jesus cautions us to retain our saltiness. Jesus cautions us avoid those paths that take us away from our core value of honor. To avoid giving in to a short-term solution that takes advantage of others. Ethically, Jesus tells us our actions will have consequences. These consequences can be severe. Severe enough that a lifetime of honorable work can be wiped out. Our honor and how we handle decisions is our salt.

“There will be times we have to let the other person win. But we will remain with our biggest asset, Our salt and our honor.”

Many of us face decisions like this every day in our work and daily life. Decisions that seem small but that, made without honor, can be disastrous. For most of us our reputation is our greatest asset. We don’t have large trust funds or a big inheritance. We earn our living based on who we are. Our honor is our salt. It is what makes us good. For all our decisions, our salt should come first. Surely there will be times when that means we lose a big sale or big client. There will be times we have to let the other person win. But we will remain with our biggest asset. Our salt and our honor.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

What is our decision-making process, do we take our reputation into account?

How do we evaluate our next steps and does it include “fairplay”?

Whom do we admire that is admirable?