16 Nov #147 – Integrity Idea 015: Remember the Fourth
ESSENCE: Integrity Ideas are specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Remember the Fourth
COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action): Proclamation and Policies
COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt): Highly Overt to Highly Covert
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees
Most Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. “Remember the Fourth” is about remembering the Fourth Commandment to keep a Sabbath. The Sabbath is a gift from God to humans. A leader can either recognize and honor that gift with a policy that facilitates a day of Sabbath rest for their employees or ignore and dishonor it (which just sounds like a bad idea). Recognizing and honoring that gift is not “giving” something to employees—it is allowing them to keep and enjoy the gift that was already given by their benevolent Creator. “Remember the Fourth” recognizes that the Sabbath gift has already been given. Implementation of “Remember the Fourth” will depend greatly upon the nature of the organization.
Integrity Ideas are specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. We believe some are critical (and necessary) steps in the RENEW/RE-ALIGN/RE-IMAGINE/RESTORE process. Others are just ideas to be considered if they feel like a good fit based on what leaders prayerfully discern is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY. “Remember the Fourth” is a bit different. It is not a critical step in the alignment process, but it is one of the “Big 10”.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Remember the Fourth
“Remember the Fourth” is not about the 4th of July (or the 4th of November)—it is about remembering the Fourth Commandment to keep a Sabbath. We all know what God spoke to Moses about the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy
In his book 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life, Dr. Matthew Sleeth observes that the Fourth Commandment is “the only commandment that begins with the word remember—almost as if God knew we would forget.”
But we can’t understand the nature of Sabbath command without remembering what Jesus declared to those who accused him of breaking it (on several occasions):
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
In 24/6, Sleeth explains:
When we put slavish adherence to rules above God’s intention, we lose track of the bigger picture. . . . The intent of the commandment—rest—is what is important. Sabbath is meant to be a refuge, not a prison. . . . People don’t save the Sabbath, it saves us.
The Sabbath is a gift from God to those created in God’s image. In fact, God told Moses it was a gift in Exodus 16:29:
They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you.
It is an aspect of living out Imago Dei and becoming fully human–God rested and gave us the gift of rest. A leader can either recognize and honor that gift with a policy that facilitates a day of Sabbath rest for their employees or ignore and dishonor it (which just sounds like a bad idea).
Recognizing and honoring that gift is not “giving” something to employees—it is allowing them to keep and enjoy the gift that was already given by their benevolent Creator. “Remember the Fourth” recognizes that the Sabbath gift has already been given.
CONTINUUM: Proclamation and Policies
The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums. There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture. The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.
Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.
“Remember the Fourth” is on the Proclamation and Policies Continuums. Proclamation involves actions that share Biblical faith messages with those who may not have a Biblical faith. “Remember the Fourth” is an opportunity for Proclamation, but it can be implemented without reference to its Biblical roots. Policies are written guidelines that define aspects of an organization’s culture. They help create the framework on which practices can be developed.
COVERT-OVERT RATING: Highly Overt to Highly Covert
The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.
Most Integrity Ideas will have one place on the scale. Some can vary depending on how they are implemented. “Remember the Fourth” can be anywhere on the Continuum from Highly Overt (An overtly faith-based action involving community, website, sales/marketing materials) to Highly Covert (an action that would be taken by a secular company), depending upon the nature of the organization and the way the policy is explained.
For example, a retail establishment like Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby would normally be open every day. Closing for one day is highly unusual—which makes it Highly Overt, particularly if the Biblical basis for the closing is explained. For other businesses, closing on one or both days of the weekend is the norm, which would make closing Highly Covert, except to the extent leaders choose to use the Policy as an opportunity for Proclamation and explain the Biblical basis for closing.
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees
When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom. “Remember the Fourth” serves employees by allowing them to understand, keep and enjoy a precious gift they have been given by God.
They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift. (Exodus 16:29)
We don’t pretend to be theologians and will not try to analyze which day is the “right” Sabbath. There are entire books written about the Sabbath, like Sleeth’s book 24/6, which we recommend. Implementation of “Remember the Fourth” will depend greatly upon the nature of the organization.
• Organizations Usually Open Less Than Seven Days. For organizations that typically close at least one day during the week, “Remember the Fourth” is easier to implement—at least in theory. Even though the “office” may be closed, employees may have their day off interrupted in various ways. For example:
• E-mail’s from managers
• Work that carries into the “day off”.
• Travel that must occur on the “day off”
Leaders need to conduct an honest assessment of ways in which work actually impinges on people’s Sabbath and evaluate ways in which practices can be adjusted to align with a “Remember the Fourth” policy.
Leaders also need to consider how overt they want to be about explaining the Biblical basis for the actions being taken to “give back” people’s gift from God.
• Organizations Usually Open Seven days. This is the more challenging Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby situation. David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, has explained that the decision to close their stores on Sundays was particularly difficult because it was the busiest day of the week. Weekends are also the busiest time for fast-food restaurants. The Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby decisions looked very different at the beginning.
• Chick-fil-A closed their first restaurant on the first Sunday after opening in 1946 and have kept them closed ever since.
• Hobby Lobby began to close stores on Sundays and then reopened them out of fear of competition. They then felt convicted to go back to closing, but did it slowly by starting with just one state.
Closing to “Remember the Fourth” in this type of organization will almost certainly become Highly Overt as leaders explain the counter-cultural move to investors, customers and employees. We have said many times, business a better way is a step of faith. It requires Trust in God. In his book To Change the World, James Hunter warns:
To enact a vision of human flourishing based in the qualities of life that Jesus modeled will invariably challenge the given structures of the social order. In this light, there is no true leadership without putting at risk one’s time, wealth, reputation, and position.
• Organizations That Must Be Open Seven Days. There are organizations that must be open every day, like hospitals. In these organizations, leaders must consider how they can best honor the spirit of “Remember the Fourth” while continuing to carry out the mission of the organization.
Perhaps it is ensuring that every employee must take a day of rest each week (whether or not they use it for rest).
One question that will be faced by an organization considering “Remember the Fourth” is “What Day?” Christians will look to Sunday. Jews (and certain Christian denominations) look to Saturday. The most important thing is to give the gift back. As Dr. Matthew Sleeth concludes:
It doesn’t matter what you call the Sabbath—Shabbat, Shabbos, Saturday, Sunday, 24/6, a day of rest, ceasing day, or Stop Day. What’s important is the stopping.
Of course, employees don’t have to “rest” or follow some religious tradition on the Sabbath—what they do with God’s gift is between them and God. But leaders need to ensure the organization is not taking that gift away.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I grew up with “blue laws” that closed most businesses on Sundays (I imagine that term is as unfamiliar to Millennials and younger generations as curly fax paper). I watched them disappear. In the suburban Connecticut town in which we live, youth sports have taken over Sunday mornings—sports has become the new “religion” (and the stores are all open).
I actually did create a “Sabbath” during college and law school, although I didn’t call it a Sabbath or tie it to the Fourth Commandment. I worked particularly hard from Noon on Sunday until 5:00pm Friday in order to build a work boundary around the period from Friday dinner until Sunday brunch. That was my time to “stop”.
It was not until I was working for a large law firm in Manhattan that I encountered observant Jews who created a very impenetrable boundary from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. I was impressed by their commitment and actually amazed by how it was accommodated in a work culture that prided itself on 24/7/365 availability.
I worked seven days a week for years. My career was one in which work became all-consuming (there were periods as an associate when a typical week was: 9:00am to somewhere between 11:00pm-1:00am, Monday through Thursday; 9:00am to 8:00pm Friday; 10:00am to 7:00pm Saturday; and 11:00am to 6:00pm Sunday). There was no Sabbath.
In starting Integrous, I was committed to a “no work on Sunday” policy. The Integrous website and our client engagement letters state “Our loyalty to different constituents has practical implications for how we work. For example, our loyalty to God means that we respect (and ask our clients to respect) the honoring of a Sabbath day by our people, and our work expectations take into account faith as a higher priority.”