The 3 R’s on How to Be a Good Steward of the God-given Freedom You Have as a Business Owner in the USA
Several years ago I was standing in line next to a man from Germany to tour the former federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. The man was visiting his daughter who attended one of the universities in the area.
He was horrified to see the scourge of homelessness. He made the case for the superiority of the Germany socialist form of government, claiming that everyone has the same amount of resources and everyone has a place to live.
I understood his dismay at seeing the undignified way people on the streets live. I recognize the complexity around our problem on homelessness and unresolved issues on how best to handle it. I know that no system is perfect.
I told him that he is witnessing the price of freedom.
Here we are free to work or not work; to live where we choose by the choices we make in our lives; to fully use our talents or to let them waste away with our bodies if we decide to approach our lives that way. As a result, in our country there is a wide range of standards of living; varying degrees of life satisfaction; and a diversity of lifestyles.
In the United States, we still choose freedom despite its negative consequences.
This same freedom allows people to openly express themselves in appropriate and at times inappropriate ways. People here can riot and tear down public statues without being executed or tortured on the spot like they would have experienced if they tried to pull that same act in Communist China or under a Venezuelan dictator.
Here we imperfectly have authority, laws, due process, a means for public dialogue, an ability to openly disagree on how each of us individually believes our communities and country should operate. Here we can pass both moral and immoral laws if those we elect to govern us do so, like the New York law that permits infanticide.
This framework does permit chaos and, unfortunately, does harm to others when we abuse our freedom.
But ultimately a free system promotes the creativity of entrepreneurism, which collectively expands the abundance we are able to access and experience should we desire to do so. It empowers and motivates people to solve problems with innovation like no other system.
Take a look now at all the pharmaceutical companies on the fast track to find a vaccine and treatments for Covid-19. We have a system that gives those companies financial incentives to quickly help find a way for us to live without having to choose between health and well-being and a robust, socially vibrant economy and lifestyle.
As a business owner, bathed in freedom, we top the societal ladder. We take freedom to an even higher level, because we are willing to embrace the risks of doing so. But with this blessing comes the importances of being a good steward. We live that good stewardship by managing the 3’Rs of freedom: RESPONSIBILITIES, ROLES, and RIGHTS.
Freedom doesn’t guarantee justice or high quality. Freedom and the outcomes of what we produce depends on the integrity we have as business owners. Cream-of-the-crop business owners exercise RESPONSIBILITY to create the highest value to their customers in a way that makes the world we live in be a better place in an efficient way. A commitment to continuous growth, willing to listen to customer and employee feedback, honest self-appraisal and self-awareness about flaws and strengths, and a disposition to be a humble servant leader paves the way to RESPONSIBLY serve our communities in the highest way as business owners. It makes everyone who does business with us feel great about how we take care of them.
People watch those at the top. A dentist who has kids with decaying, cavity-filled teeth turns those who witness the incongruity off. Responsibility and efficiently delivering a high quality product or service that solves real problems means little if we treat ourselves, our families, and our employees in a sub-par manner. The AAA business owner models living as a ROLE-MODEL in an ordered life in all areas of his or her business and personal life and advocates and provides the means for those in his or her organization to do the same.
Seeing organizations like the NFL sell out their alliance to the same system that allowed them to develop prosperous enterprises spotlights the conflicting messages that come when organizational heads allow fear to guide their decisions.
With RESPONSIBILITIES come RIGHTS, and the RESPONSIBILITY to defend those RIGHTS. Servant leadership recognizes the importance of having a coherent corporate culture that makes sense and respects not only the people working there and using their products and services, but also respects the structure that makes it possible for them to exist.
It doesn’t need to involve posting your political views on social media or openly criticizing the actions of people you disagree with as a business owner. But valuing and protecting your RIGHTS does involve having support from other business owners and having a place where you can be transparent about what you believe, a place to process any conflicts of living those beliefs out in the culture at large, and a support system that has your back if circumstances to require you to take important, public stands necessary to protect you and all of our LIBERTY.
We’re living an important experiment, with business owners driving the campaign. Can we govern ourselves? Can we maintain a system that unleashes problem solving and expands abundance? Can we withstand corrosion and corruption as an inherent part of our human nature? Can we civilly discuss and implement ideas to make our country and all its people feel included, important, and prosper?
I say we can.
We can as long as the real business leaders–who put people above things and believe in abundance (that there is plenty for all of us)– fully embrace their RESPONSIBILITY, ROLES, AND RIGHTS.
Christian Entrepreneur Biz and Life Tip: Assess your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner in the areas of RESPONSIBILITY, ROLES, and RIGHTS. Identify one way to intentionally use your strength and one way to off-set one of your challenge areas.