From remarks by Jeffrey R. Holland, President of Brigham Young University:
To those who suggest that one must compromise one's values to succeed in the hard-nosed world of business, I commend the name of N. Eldon Tanner.
To those who say that "connections" are more important than commitment, I commend the name of N. Eldon Tanner.
To those who say that they lack the time for family and profession and Church and community, I commend the name of N. Eldon Tanner. (p. 104)
From remarks by William G. Dyer, Dean of the School of Management:
Unlike those of many other disciplines, the message and mission of the BYU School of Management have to be more than the generally held principles in the professional field. In some academic areas, BYU does not offer anything additional to the basic concepts of its field. We do not have a Mormon mathematics, a priesthood physics, or a latter-day chemistry or accounting. But in some areas, the discipline as presented at BYU does offer something unique to the world. This unique quality exists in the field of the family and also in the area of management. The Lord has revealed some great things about organizations and how people should manage others in their organizations. In some cases the secular knowledge comes close to revealed truth, and in other areas what man has learned is still far from inspired insight. Let me give you a few illustrations. . . . (pp. 104-105)
I believe President Tanner would expect that from a building bearing his name the great truths of management, both revealed and discovered, should be combined and presented to the world for the blessing of all people. (p. 105)
From the dedicatory prayer by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
Now, our beloved Father in Heaven, acting in the authority of the holy priesthood in us vested, and with authorization from and in behalf of the Board of Trustees, we dedicate the N. Eldon Tanner Building on the campus of Brigham Young University. We dedicate it to Thee, since this is the university of Thy Church which carries the name of Thy beloved Son. We ask that Thou wilt accept it and smile with favor upon it. May Thy Spirit be felt in its halls of learning. May all who come here to learn be motivated to achievement by a faculty of trained and inspiring men and women. May eager minds be quickened and stimulated not alone to learn the skills which will qualify them to fill significant responsibilities in the world of commerce, but also to resolve to act always with honesty and integrity. These virtues were the hallmark of the man whose name this building bears. May the influence of his good life be felt by all who study here. May there grow a legend, founded in truth and nurtured with fact, the legend of a man whose principles were unimpeachable and whose industry was unexcelled. (p. 109)
In light of gospel truths it would seem hard to justify a business goal that did not support in some way the concept of love for one's neighbor and a community with "no poor amongst them." This is especially true when these neighbors happen to be fellow employees of the company. To me this hints at issues such as full employment, quality management, participative management, and others.
These "neighbors" should also include considerations of the community, such as pollution and infrastructure development, while a company's goals should include issues such as ethics and quality when dealing with customers.
In conclusion, I feel that we cannot claim to be LDS Christians while at the same time claiming that profitability should be the primary goal of our business establishments. Perhaps Japan and the developing countries of the world have much to teach us about the gospel of Jesus Christ. (p. 100)
Clean money is that compensation received for a full day's honest work. It is that reasonable pay for faithful service. It is that fair profit from the sale of goods, commodities, or service. It is that income received from transactions where all parties profit.
Filthy lucre is blood money; that which is obtained through theft and robbery. It is that obtained through gambling or the operation of gambling establishments. Filthy lucre is that had through sin or sinful operations and that which comes from the handling of liquor, beer, narcotics and those other many things which are displeasing in the sight of the Lord. Filthy lucre is that money which comes from bribery, and from exploitation.
Compromise money is filthy, graft money is unclean, profits and commissions derived from the sale of worthless stocks are contaminated as is the money derived from other deceptions, excessive charges, oppression to the poor and compensation which is not fully earned. I feel strongly that men who accept wages or salary and do not give commensurate time, energy, devotion, and service are receiving money that is not clean. (pp. 948-949)
I wonder if many of us are not hasting to be rich. Are we making compromises in order to accumulate? I wonder if money earned upon the Sabbath, when it is unnecessary Sabbath earnings, might not also be unclean money. I realize that some people must work on the Sabbath; and when they do, if they are compelled, that is, of course, a different situation. But men and women who will deliberately use the Sabbath day to develop business propositions, to increase their holdings, to increase their income, I fear for them. I think the Lord was speaking to them when he said: "Woe unto them that call evil good, . . . " (Isa. 5:20) Sometimes we salve our consciences by saying that the more we get the more we can give to the worthy causes, but that, of course, is a subterfuge. (p. 950)
Elements of history, theology, and practice combine to form a positive LDS attitude toward honest business endeavors.
. . . Historically, members of the Church have been integrally involved in business activities. In their pioneer environment, Latter-day Saints developed, out of necessity, traits of self-sufficiency, pragmatism, and resourcefulness. This heritage is reflected in an entrepreneurial spirit and penchant for hard work that lend themselves very well to business endeavors.
The theology of the Church is also supportive of honest business. Church doctrines emphasize individual agency and self-determination, which provide fertile conceptual soil for fostering business attitudes of free enterprise. The Church teaches that property and wealth are stewardships and that all people will be held accountable to God for what they have done with the time and resources entrusted to them (Young, p. 301). Church leaders continue to encourage members to live within their means, to save and be frugal, and to remain economically independent by avoiding debt. Such principles are harmonious with business success and help prepare Church members to perform well in a business environment.
In addition, the Church's organizational practices provide an opportunity for developing skills that are useful in business. Each member, young and old, is called upon to serve in some calling. Young boys and girls give talks in Church and develop public-speaking skills. Church youth are given leadership opportunities, and adult men and women fill numerous leadership and teaching positions in every local congregation (see Lay Participation and Leadership; Leadership Training). Budgeting, counseling, organizing, and performing administrative tasks are carried out on a regular basis. From these experiences, members develop business-related skills that are useful in many business contexts.
Over the years, Church leaders have spoken forthrightly about maintaining high standards of business ethics and have warned against becoming carried away by business endeavors: "Material blessings are a part of the gospel if they are achieved in the proper way and for the right purpose" (N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign 9 [Nov. 1979]:80). Fair business dealing, giving value for value received, is scripturally required (Lev. 19:11, 35-36; 25:14; Deut. 24:14-15). Thus, President Spencer W. Kimball distinguished clean money from filthy lucre or compromise money: Clean money is "compensation received for a full day's honest work, . . . reasonable pay for faithful service, . . . fair profit from the sale of goods, commodities, or service; . . . income received from transactions where all parties profit" (Kimball, p. 948), and he counseled against conducting business unnecessarily on the Sabbath.
Employers are admonished to be generous and kind; employees, to be loyal and diligent. President Brigham Young encouraged "every man who has capital [to] create business and give employment and means into the hands of laborers"; he saw economic strength in "the bone and sinew of workingmen and women," and encouraged all to be industrious: "If we all labor a few hours a day, we could then spend the remainder of our time in rest and the improvement of our minds" (Young, pp. 300-302). "Let every man and woman be industrious, prudent, and economical in their acts and feelings, and while gathering to themselves, let each one strive to identify his or her interests with . . . those of their neighbor and neighborhood, let them seek their happiness and welfare in that of all." (Young, p. 303)
"If you love me," said the Greatest of all leaders, "you will keep my commandments. "If you know what is good for me," says the manager, "you will keep my commandments, and not make waves." That is why the rise of management always marks the decline of culture. If the management does not go for Bach, very well, there will be no Bach in the meeting; if management favors vile, sentimental doggerel verse extolling the qualities that make for success, young people everywhere will be spouting long trade-journal jingles from the stand . . . (p. 186)
Leadership is an escape from mediocrity. All the great deposits of art, science, and literature from the past on which all civilization is nourished come to us from a mere handful of leaders. For the qualities of leadership are the same in all fields, the leader being simply the one who sets the highest example; and to do that and open the way to greater light and knowledge, the leader must break the mold. "A ship in port is safe," says Captain Hopper, speaking of management; "but that is not what ships were built for," she adds, calling for leadership. True leaders are inspiring because they are inspired, caught up in a higher purpose, devoid of personal ambition, idealistic, and incorruptible. (pp. 186-187)
Of the many ways to define the purpose of the gospel, let me suggest one for your consideration--the idea of the gospel as a mechanism that (1) defines that meaning of certain organizations, and (2) establishes a set of criteria for quality relationships within those organizations. Now, if this sounds suspiciously close to my academic field, it is. But after all, what else is there besides people behaving, relating, making mistakes, learning, changing, growing? (p. 133)
In a democracy power resides in the people. People vote. They may not vote righteously, they may not vote to do the best things, but the power resides in the people. In a council, the primary means of decision making is not a vote--instructions are explicit, decisions are unanimous. And in a council, rather than power residing in the sovereign ruler or in the voice of the people, power resides in truth. Truth can only be found by an honest exchange of committed people, and when values transcend bottom-line outcomes.
I think it is interesting that in the Council of Heaven, God listened to alternative proposals and allowed people to choose. . . . For [God] freedom of choice and honoring the right of others to speak in the council, even though they may not have supported the plan, was more important than universal salvation. . . . In his councils God taught that the process of honoring every individual and their right to choose, unimpeded by manipulative good intent of obsessive administrators, is of the highest value. (p. 138)
As we learn the lessons from councils, as we learn that sweet counsel can only be given in a council, as we prepare relationships that enable us to grow and experiment without fear, and as we test without sanction and learn with confidence, we will find ourselves creating organizations that are modeled on God's councils. It is not an easy task; it is a very difficult process. We must learn that principles are more important than control, that honest feelings are more important than smooth facades, and that understanding new information benefits the individual expressing it as well as the receiver. (p. 139)
Another responsibility I believe we have is to do our individual tasks well and to try to work at jobs we feel are worth doing. In our society most positions are business jobs. Hence the use of our human resources is to a large extent under the control of business managers. This places, I think, a heavy responsibility on them, not just with respect to wages and working conditions, but also with respect to what goods and services people are asked to work on. I would like to have businessmen ask themselves more often than they do: Is my product or my service worth the time I am spending on it and asking others to spend on it? I do not think the sole question should be: Can I sell the product at a profit? To stop there is, in my opinion, an evasion of responsibility.
I sometimes shudder to think of the man-hours spent by intelligent men and women in composing some of our advertising slogans and commercials, of the man-hours spent by others, presumably even more intelligent and important, in deciding on the color of a soap, the amount of lotion to put in a bottle, or the shape to give a cereal flake. I do not deride these activities, but I am not among those who think it does not matter what we do with our talents, our time, and our materials so long as the gross national product rises or the corporation in which I hold shares makes a good profit.
I believe businessmen themselves are morally accountable for the use they make of the human and material resources under their control. Thousands of persons spend their lives working at jobs that do not interest them and making or selling goods for which they can have only contempt. Many of our material resources are not put to the happiest uses.
Our total annual education bill for all schools, higher and lower, public and private, is about $20 billion. Our annual advertising bill is more than half this education bill; and our bill for wrappings and containers that we immediately destroy is greater -- some $25 billion. The average annual family contribution to religious organizations is estimated at $84 and to welfare organizations at $10. I cite these facts merely as being suggestive of things Americans might think about as we apportion our incomes and when we consider whether, as a nation, we can afford this or that. (p. 8)
To those who assume that religion should merely involve Sunday worship or saying daily prayers, Wilford Woodruff offered a practical view of why Mormons also stress the temporal aspects of religion. He taught that our purposes as a people require "the accomplishment of this temporal work. We have to do it, we can't build up Zion sitting on a hemlock slab singing ourselves away to everlasting bliss." (JD 16:268).
President Woodruff and his brethren preached a "celestial law" known as consecration and stewardship, or the united order. When President Young established the Brigham Young Academy he did not envision it teaching the Social Darwinist values of conventional economists which are largely taught, even worshipped, on BYU's campus presently. Rather, his objective was to counter "the false political economy which contends against cooperation and the United Order." [Dean C. Jesse (ed. Letters of Brigham Young to his Sons (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974) p. 199)]
LDS-based principles of economics and management did not arise in a 19th century social vacuum. Rather, they were revealed in an era of historical social change. The American Revolution and Adam Smith's publishing of The Wealth of Nations occurred simultaneously in 1776. The process of Mormonism's restoration was begun only a few decades later, and much of the Church's message focused on the temporal needs of the poor--creating jobs and countering inequality as the means to building the good community. And that community was not conceived to become the brutal, destructive business environment of the 1980s and '90s. Rather, it was called Zion. (p. 41)
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