What ethical challenges have you faced throughout your diverse career in business and government?
If there is one thing I’ve learned about ethical challenges is that they exist every day for people of faith. They can be large and small and everything in between. I was pressured to falsify an expense report at my first job after college. It seemed that it was the unofficial corporate policy to pad business mileage with personal mileage to make extra money and reduce taxable income. If I kept my report accurate, it would be a suspicious outlier and I could lose my job. But if I changed it, my biblically-led conscience would haunt me. I decided to keep my report accurate but explained to my boss that the benefit to him and the company was that if I was willing to lie on something as small as an expense report, how could he trust me on bigger things. The blessing I experienced from taking a stand for integrity early in my career was not having any regrets.
What advice would you have for someone who is new to managing other people in the workplace?
There is a spiritual dimension to the art of management that many people overlook or ignore but makes all the difference. When I became the director of the United States Mint, our morale was extremely low. Out of 217 government departments and agencies, our employees ranked themselves the 211th best place to work. Working with our employees, unions, and management, we tried bonuses, more flexibility, and greater employee participation but never got over 210th. But when we re-branded ourselves (“Connecting America Through Coins”) and explained to employees how their work uniquely impacted America and the world and gave them fair metrics to know how they were doing, we shot up to 57th. This strategy was based on Genesis 1, where God did important work and evaluated it daily. Because we are created in His image, we need worthy work and the satisfaction of doing it well.
What does workplace evangelism look like for you?
With greater cultural bias against evangelism and more workplace legal restrictions, we have greater obstacles to evangelism than prior generations. Each workplace situation is different but in my experience, there are several general principles I follow. First, know that God has been at your workplace before you, is with you now, and will be there after you leave. You are just part of His ongoing work, so be additive. Second, develop relationships out of love. No one likes being a project or obligation. Third, walk your talk. Fourth, do your work well, as if you are working for Him, because ultimately you are. Fifth, be ready to tell your own personal story of your faith journey.
In serving as the Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for Presidential Personnel, you handled political appointments for over 500 senior positions in the government. How did you approach hiring the right people as a follower of Jesus?
God has ordained government as a blessing to the people to provide order, safety, and general well-being. So the most important criteria was whether they could do their jobs really well, not whether they were followers of Jesus. Fortunately, the White House has the ability to recruit from America’s best and brightest, so there were plenty of great candidates. My job was made easier by President George W. Bush, who wanted to consider all the best candidates, including those who professed faith. We would fail the public good if we hired people of faith who were not the best qualified or if we did not hire people of faith because of their faith.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to a young professional in the marketplace?
Pray for and seek a mentor. That person should be a follower of Jesus, have more experience than you do, preferably in the same field. Further, it should be someone who you respect and want to emulate. At my first job after college, I found out that my bosses’ boss five levels up was a follower of Jesus. One of the best things I have ever done was to ask him to mentor me. We prayed for each other, started a bible study at work, held each other accountable, and I learned from his 25 years as a person trying to integrate his faith with his work. Because we were at the same company, we were extra careful to avoid conflicts of interest or favoritism. To this day, he has been one of the biggest influences in my life.