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What if my boss asks me to lie on the job?

job, boss, lying, ethics, morality


I’m in a dilemma. I work in sales and all three managers (including my general sales manager) have instructed me to lie. The general sales manager openly instructed us to lie. They want us to lie because sales is a job where you strive to exceed the monthly quota.

The Bible says to work hard as if working for God. But the Bible also says not to lie. I chose not to lie. Did I do the right thing? Should I stay at my current job or should I leave immediately (I don’t have a job lined up) because I don’t want my character tarnished.


This one’s a softball, but it doesn’t make it any easier for
you. Without question, you did the right thing by
not lying. Usually the temptation isn’t so
blatant. Usually you’re asked to “just not tell the
whole truth” or “round the numbers up” or “be a
team player” by fudging the truth because if you don’t the whole
sales team will suffer and, being a Christian, you wouldn’t want
people to suffer, now would you? For those of us on this side of
your question, it sounds like a no-brainer, but for anyone who’s
been on your side, it’s not that easy to apply.

When your job and (seemingly) your livelihood are on the
line, the temptation is much stronger just to wink at the sin or
find some way to justify it. In your case it sounds like the
managers have created a culture that they’ve become so
accustomed to, they probably don’t even see it as a big deal
anymore — “it’s just what we do.” But you have a higher
calling, and a higher Manager, and when the ethics of Christ
conflict with the ethics of work, either the latter should conform
to the former, or you need to respectfully move on. That moving
on, by the way, can be an opportunity for witness, but it should
be done with a strong measure of grace. It’s not that you’re
perfect, but you can’t continue a lifestyle that runs in direct
conflict with your deepest values.

This is just one of thousands of character choices you’ll
encounter throughout your life, and with each one, consider the
legacy you’re leaving. When you’re long gone and people
remember you, it’s unlikely they’ll say, “and remember in 2006
when he knocked those 3rd Quarter sales numbers out of the
park?! What a guy!” No. What you want them to say is, “He was a
man of character. You could count on him to do the right thing,
even when he knew he’d suffer for it. I want to be like him.”



Copyright 2006 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

John Thomas

John Thomas has been a Boundless contributor since its beginning in 1998. He and his wife, Alfie, have three children and live in Arkansas, where he serves as executive director of Ozark Camp and Conference Center, a youth camp and retreat center.


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