Relying On God During a Difficult Business Relationship

Difficult business challenges are resolved when a man prays about identity.

By Mark Tousey, London, England

Categories: Guidance, Loving and Forgiving

Are there any instances that stand out to you as successful because you've overcome a challenge?
All the companies I've been involved with have had tough times. There's always the issue of working with other people. There is one in particular. In my UK business, I worked with a colleague who subscribed to the "I" system of management. Having learned this lesson I was sensitive to it, but it was terribly destructive to the business. He usually wouldn't take advice (especially from me!), and any time he succeeded, he would attribute it to his own efforts, which was an interesting flip side for me. He would also say that we were going to move in one direction, and then he would frequently change his mind. So many of his actions were motivated by fear because he didn't know what to do. And I didn't know what to do either, but I had God to turn to, and I was prepared to listen.

I ended up working with this guy for nearly ten years. There were extremely difficult times. I often wanted to leave the business, but that was the easy way out. There are times when you just have to hang in there because if you know what is right and what needs to be done, you can't run away. I knew that running away wasn't going to help me because I could fall into the same type of situation on the next project.

I realized I wouldn't be lifted out of that working environment until I learned some important lessons about forgiveness and not attaching someone's unfavorable personality to his real, God-given identity. It took me a long time to do that because my own pride got in the way. I had to learn to be loving while at the same time to stand for what I knew was right, which sometimes causes a lot of fireworks. But if you're doing it for the right reason and not out of your own pride and arrogance, you'll find the answer.

How do you stand for what is right and continue to be loving?
There's a very important balance that you need to strike. It's easy to slide into the temptation to impose your own view on someone else, and arrogance and self-righteousness tag along. What I learned is that standing for principle is really trying to understand God's principles -- expecting compliance with God's laws, not your own rules with which you expect yourself or others to comply. This takes away the sense that you're trying to impose your own personality or values on someone else when you communicate the requirements to them. It's right to be honest; it blesses everyone. And we must demand it because it's God-given and God- guided. Principle always has to go hand-in-hand with divine Love. It's quite difficult to win people over by hitting them in the head with a hammer. You want people to come with you, so you have to provide that principle in a loving way.

So how did you find the answer?
I really had to look at my own thinking about this person. I was seeing him as prideful and arrogant. I knew the best way to resolve the problem in the office was to have a more spiritual view of this individual and of what I was doing. This goes back to who you consider to be in charge. For me, it was very clear that God -- not a board of directors, not a faction of the board that happened to have more votes, and certainly not me -- was in charge. So it comes back to the whole issue of humility. It was about allowing God to guide that business and the motives of everyone at the board table. It was not about me trying to be political and win votes. It was not about personality versus personality.

Whenever we had a disagreement, I'd explain why I had the view I had and try to work it out one-on-one. Then I'd go to other members of the board, explain why we should work it out, and seek their support. Through the combination of my prayer and integrity, every member of the board who initially supported my colleague ended up supporting me. We lost a lot of good opportunities, and we did some transactions that were not so good, but in the end, we sold the business, and the sale was very successful because of God's guidance.

How did the sale come about?
We had a number of multi-nationals approach us with a view to buy the company. The first one came with a very attractive price. My colleague didn't want to sell because he wanted something separate for himself, which drove me into absolute frustration. I had to go back to being humble and being prepared to listen to what God was telling me to do. It was another year and a half before someone else approached us, but over that time, my desire and anxiety to sell left. I was willing to be there as long as I had to be there. At that point I knew that I was ready to sell and that selling that company was not going to be a way simply to escape working with that individual. I was totally at peace about the situation -- the first time in nine years that I was at peace. So when two other parties approached us this year, and a transaction was agreed upon, it was done within two weeks, which, in corporate finance, is a very short time indeed.

Where was the enjoyment?
It was tough to be happy during the turbulent times. I like my work, but the constant turmoil became a burden and a drag. So when the days are tough, you've got to rely on something for your happiness beyond what's sitting on your desk, which you have to deal with. It goes back to your concept of God. If you're being guided by divine intelligence and are doing what God is telling you, you should have great joy. When you realize this, it takes away all the false sense of responsibility that comes with relying on all your own limited capabilities.

I thought about the Bible verse, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (I Cor 2:9), quite a few times because there were times when there didn't seem to be anything promising in the future. That's when I realized that I needed to recognize that my source of good doesn't come from a board meeting, a pay check, or a dividend, but from God. I needed to be willing to rely on God totally.

You mentioned forgiveness. What role did that play in this situation?
I had to forgive this colleague for losing the company money, for being stubborn, for not listening. I had to see him as being an equal reflection of God, just as I saw myself. There were days when this was pretty tough.

Can you expand on this idea of reflection?
My view of my identity is that rather than being a human individual with a personality wrapped inside, I am a reflection of God. I see everyone this way. Another way to put it is that we are all like rays of sunlight that come out from the sun, which represents God. We can't accept that one sun ray can be flawed if we're all coming from the same perfect source. So what it requires is that you see your entire environment as God is seeing it. That divine or spiritual environment has nothing to do with qualities that are not Godlike. Rather, everyone you're working with possesses the same intelligence, integrity, and desire to be good and to work in harmony that God has given you.

So naturally, when we see others and ourselves as God's reflections, healing occurs. Thanks for sharing.