#209 – Integrity Idea 039: Identify Your Beauty

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.  You can find more Integrity Ideas at Integrous | Integrity Ideas (integriosity.com)

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.

“Identify Your Beauty” falls into the “if it fits” category.  For some organization, the “beauty” is obvious.  For others, it may be very hard for people to see why their work matters beyond earning money.

INTEGRITY IDEA: Identify Your Beauty

“Identify Your Beauty” is about identifying and communicating to stakeholders how the organization’s products and services Beautify the World.

We believe the three bigger WHY’s of an organization operating with faithful integrity through business a better way toward Biblical flourishing are to Humanize People, Beautify the World and Glorify God.  As a refresher:

• Humanize: People are more “fully human” and able to flourish when engaged in meaningful work that unleashes their God-given productivity and creativity and creates economic prosperity in a culture of Shalom built on Biblical principles of relationships, community and human dignity.

• Beautify:  An organization adds to the beauty of the world and assists in God’s restorative plan for His Kingdom by creating opportunities, economic prosperity, goods and services, and by meeting needs, solving problems and “repairing” the world, in ways that help families and communities to flourish and by extending its culture of Shalom to all people it touches.  In the process, the work of the organization takes on deeper meaning for its own people.

• Glorify:  An organization glorifies God and loves its neighbors principally through serving people–by providing opportunities for individuals to express aspects of their God-given identities in creative and meaningful work, by providing opportunities, economic prosperity, goods and services, and by solving problems and “repairing” the world, in ways that enable families and communities to flourish and by creating a culture of Shalom conducive to the flourishing of all people it touches.

“Identify Your Beauty” recognizes that it is humanizing for people to understand God’s greater purpose for their work–how their work is beautifying the world and aligning with the Creation Mandate and the commandment to love their neighbors. Wharton professor Adam Grant noted:

For decades, Americans have ranked purpose as their top priority — above promotions, income, job security, and hours. Work is a search “for daily meaning as well as daily bread,” wrote Studs Turkel after interviewing hundreds of people in a striking array of jobs.

We learned in Genesis 2:5 that the product of our work has intrinsic Kingdom value because the world was created to “need” our cultivation in order to flourish. God built potential into the world and then commanded and equipped us to unleash it. The product of our work also has intrinsic Kingdom value because it is the way we fulfill the Creation Mandate in Genesis 1:28 to: “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

We do that by taking the raw materials God created and applying our image-bearing creativity and productivity to produce new things that bring and promote flourishing. We do that by creating order out of chaos (as God did in the first verses of Genesis), including through the development of culture and society and organizations of humans.  Organizations (including businesses) have intrinsic Kingdom value because they are themselves a creation of God’s image-bearers and because they create the platform and the opportunity for humans to come together in relationship to express and fulfill their humanity through work by producing and promoting flourishing and “building for the Kingdom” in ways that could not be accomplished by people working alone.

“Identify Your Beauty” also recognizes that people often need help seeing the connection between their daily tasks and the beauty they are helping create–whether directly or indirectly as owners, employees, vendors, customers or members of the community in which the organization operates.  Seeing the connection to the purpose written on every human heart is humanizing because it reminds people why they were created and how they are fulfilling that purpose.

“Identify Your Beauty” helps stakeholders reframe their role in, and contribution to, the organization’s bigger WHY.  In his book Great Work, David Sturt puts it this way:

To reframe one’s job is to make a mental connection with a grander purpose: Its social benefit. Its worth to society. Its potential to benefit others.

“Identify Your Beauty” represents a trifecta–when beauty is identified, people are humanized, and when people are humanized, God is glorified.

CONTINUUM: Practices

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.

“Identify Your Beauty” is on the Products Continuum. It involves evaluating the products and services an organization offers.  In this case, that evaluation is in order to identify how they add beauty to the world–how they “build for the Kingdom” by moving the world a little closer to God’s perfect plan.

COVERT-OVERT RATING: Highly Covert or Highly Overt

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.  Because people prioritize purpose, even a secular organization would benefit from helping its stakeholders understand how its products and services are good for the world beyond earning profit for the organization’s owners.  As a consequence, whether “Identify Your Beauty” is Highly Covert (An action that would be taken by a secular company) or Highly Overt (an overtly faith-based action involving community, website, sales/marketing materials) will depend entirely on the faith overtness of how “beauty” is defined and explained.

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Owners, Employees, Customers/Clients, Suppliers/Vendors/Community

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.

“Identify Your Beauty” ultimately benefits all stakeholders, because all people who touch, or are touched by, the organization will be humanized by understanding that in some way they are part of making the world a better place–a more beautiful place.

To reframe one’s job is to make a mental connection with a grander purpose. (David Sturt)

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementing “Identify Your Beauty” requires requires prayerful discernment by faithful leaders committed to identifying all the ways in which their organization, directly or indirectly through others, adds to the beauty of the world by bringing it a little bit closer to God’s design through the products and services it offers.  It is not about the organization’s charitable service projects or charitable donations–it is identifying how its core business permits or promotes the flourishing of God’s creation, particularly humans, and lives out the commandment to love your neighbor.

The difficulty of the exercise will depend on the organization and what it does.  For example, an organization producing an industrial product or business service probably needs to think more deeply about beauty than a hospital or humanitarian organization in order to see the redemptive or restorative nature of their product or service.

One way to do this is to keep asking “Why“, or to ask “what is the highest and best result of what we are doing,” and then ask the same question about that result until you come to the biggest, most redemptive or restorative WHY.  Leaders of an organization offering business-to-business products or services probably need to look to the beauty being created by their customers or even the customers of their customers.

Beauty can also come through the economic prosperity generated by jobs that are created because of the organization’s product or services.

It’s not the nature of the organization’s products or services that makes all the difference–it is the bigger picture within which people see the impact of those products and services. “Identify Your Beauty” helps bring that bigger picture into focus.

One of our favorite examples of “Identify Your Beauty” is the slogan of Old Dominion Freight Line–“Helping the World Keep Promises“.

Wayne Grudem captures some of the many ways in which business adds beauty:

Christians involved in a business should remember that they are making, distributing, or selling products that help other people. These products may help others to eat and sleep and be healthy, or to learn and communicate, or to enjoy family and friends and the many wonderful resources of God’s amazing earth. In other words, if you work in a business, your work is doing good for other people. You are doing “good works”.

We agree–most of the time.  The prayerful discernment of faithful leaders to identify beauty may lead to the conclusion that certain of the organization’s products or services do not comfortably fit within a redemptive or restorative vision of “good works” or within a Re-Imagined Culture that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.

Or it may lead to the conclusion that offering those products to certain customers is inconsistent with faithful integrity through business a better way toward Biblical flourishing.  For example, serving customers in industries that can be seen as “exploitive” (e.g., gambling, pornography, addictive substances) undermines that purpose.

A well-managed organization must constantly re-evaluate the products and services it offers, always evaluating the costs and benefits of those products and services based on its Re-Imagined Purpose.

“Identify Your Beauty” also requires faithful leaders to determine how overt they want to be about describing the organization’s beauty in terms of Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities, such as the commandment to love your neighbor or the concepts of stewardship and flourishing in the Creation Mandate.    As we discussed in post #141 (Covert or Overt), leading an organization with faithful integrity through business a better way in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities, requires a continual prayerful balancing of the call to be courageous through overtness and the need to be wise through covertness.

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM):  When I became a partner and had responsibilities for recruiting law students, I did have a stock explanation of the societal value of corporate law that I shared with all recruits.  It went something like:  “What is good for American business is good for America, and we help American business achieve its goals.  So what we do matters.”  I believed it.  I do not recall using the words “truth, beauty and goodness” to describe what I did.  As I look back, it was probably more “rationalization” than “inspiration”.  I really didn’t think too hard about whether something American business considered “good” might actually be “bad”.  Of course, at the time I was firmly entrenched in the way of the world–business as usual.

ESSENCE:  Integrity Ideas are specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.

INTEGRITY IDEA: Identify Your Beauty

COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action):  Products

COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt): Highly Covert

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Owners, Employees, Customers/Clients, Suppliers/Vendors, Community

Most Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization.  “Identify Your Beauty” is about identifying and communicating to stakeholders how the organization’s products and services Beautify the World.  We believe the three bigger WHY’s of an organization operating with faithful integrity through business a better way toward Biblical flourishing are to Humanize People, Beautify the World and Glorify God.  “Identify Your Beauty” recognizes that it is humanizing for people to understand God’s greater purpose for their work–how their work is beautifying the world and aligning with the Creation Mandate and the commandment to love their neighbors.  One of the ways work Beautifies the World is by creating goods and services that help the world flourish or that restore brokenness in the world–creating economic prosperity by meeting needs, solving problems and “repairing” the world in ways that enable families and communities to flourish.  “Identify Your Beauty” recognizes that people often need help seeing the connection between their daily tasks and the beauty they are helping create–whether directly or indirectly as owners, employees, vendors, customers or members of the community in which the organization operates.  

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Photo credit: Original photo by Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash (photo cropped)