Recently, some Volkswagen engineers confessed the under-reporting of carbon dioxide emissions on some 800,000 cars sold in Europe. Manipulation of tests were at least partly the result of employees not wanting to report bad news to their superiors.
An ambitious emission goal had been publicly announced by Volkswagen and engineers were afraid to tell their bosses that the goal could not be obtained.
In September, Volkswagen faced another scandal, which impacted 11 million diesel cars sold worldwide. Software had been installed in cars that allowed under-reporting of nitrogen oxide emissions. In independent tests, cars were found to be emitting up to 40 times the legal limit. Financial impacts on Volkswagen could be as much as 35 billion euros ($38 billion). A culture of fear likely contributed.
Businesses have the responsibility to be transparent and encourage transparency. Good and bad news should be reported within the organization, to regulatory authorities and to the public. The financial crisis of 2008 could have been minimized, or even avoided, if players had been transparent earlier. Remedies could have been employed before a crisis developed. The public has also suffered from delayed notifications with contaminated food products, adverse drug side effects and unanticipated safety problems in products.
As citizens of the kingdom, we have a special responsibility to be courageous, truthful and transparent in love. The church has experienced too many Christian leaders who have had moral failures. Did these once-mighty leaders sin in a vacuum? Were others aware of potential problems and dangers but kept silent? Were they afraid to say anything? Could lives have been saved and the kingdom advanced by simply communicating fully and completely?
In His message to the seven churches, Jesus described the good things the churches were doing. But He also described the things that needed to be corrected. The Lord described the outcomes if they didn't make corrections and the reward awaiting if they overcame. Significantly, the message to each church closed with the phrase "let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Following our Lord's example, our churches today need clarity.
There has never been a greater need for the gospel of the kingdom. Too many people are hurting, confused and in search of answers. The world has been drifting into greater degrees of sin with its accompanying despair. Our youth are growing up without a knowledge or testimony of the Word to face temptations that were unimagined a few decades ago. Culture has become adversarial of Christianity where it used to be supportive. Too many have rejected (or never accepted) the King and are doing what is right in their own eyes.
"In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his eyes" (Jud. 17:6).
The time has arrived that Paul warned Timothy about.
"For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
And the solution is the same. It has not changed in 2,000 years. We should preach the Word, kindle afresh our gifts, and operate in the power, love and discipline of the Spirit.
"Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching" (2 Tim. 4:2).
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control" (2 Tim. 1:6-7).
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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