More Is Caught Than Taught

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It’s one of my most vivid memories: My daughter was about three years old, we were in the car and another driver cut us off and almost caused a wreck….

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It’s one of my most vivid memories: My daughter was about three years old, we were in the car and another driver cut us off and almost caused a wreck. From the back seat, Gia’s voice rang out loud and clear.

“Move, you idiot!”

After taking a few deep breaths to settle down from the near-crash, I said, “Gia, you shouldn’t call people idiots.”

With the classic clarity of a child, she said, “But you do it, Mommy.”


Another memory: I was in the grocery store and saw a couple of preschool-age siblings roughhousing, and one was hitting the other. Their mother turned from making her selections, smacked that child a few times, then said, “Stop hitting each other, you brats.”

More Is Caught Than Taught

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what helps build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

It’s not only children who learn more from watching what others do rather than listening to what they say.

Recently I was a guest on the Theology of Business podcast. Darren Shearer asked me to share a “pre-God in the marketplace” story, and this is what came to mind.

Back in my days of being what I call a Sunday Christian, I was faced with a challenging situation at work. A director who reported to me had done something seriously wrong that he could have been fired for. First, he lied about the situation in his report. Then, when I confronted him about it, he lied again. After he realized I knew the truth, he confessed.

I’m not proud of what I did next. I lost my temper. I said things that were totally unacceptable, using a tone and language that I would never use today. Even though it was the culture of the company at the time, and I had heard other executives say worse things, that didn’t make it right.

I thought just going to church on Sunday and calling myself a Christian was enough. But when a challenge arose, I didn’t react or sound like a Christian.

When my boss, the company’s new president, heard what happened, he recommended disciplinary action for both the director and me. We did the usual corporate-world negotiation that ended up with no one winning. In retrospect, at the very least, I should have had my mouth washed out with soap.

As Christians, we are being watched—not to be judged but because so many people are lost, missing the hope and joy that comes from knowing the Lord. They are genuinely curious about what it means to be a Christian, and we have an opportunity to show Christ through our words and actions.

I wonder what might have happened had I responded to that director in a way that would have inspired him to be honest, if I had used that breach of ethics as an opportunity to build trust, to clarify and set expectations for the future. But if anything, I pushed him away from wanting to know about my God.

We are commissioned to advance the Kingdom through the marketplace and to be fishers of men. We have a unique opportunity to reach unbelievers through our businesses by running the best companies, doing what we promise, operating ethically, serving with excellence—and cleaning up our mouths 😀.

Remember, more is caught than taught, so let’s help others catch the joy of doing business the Kingdom way.

I invite you to join us on our social media sites to share your own “pre- and post-God in the marketplace” stories so that we may encourage and build one another up.

Let’s all work together to shine the light of Christ so others will know Him through us.

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