An honorable man makes honorable plans; his honorable character gives him security. — ISAIAH 32:8

Business has a bad reputation. “It’s just business” is often code for “I’ll take what’s mine, and the devil can take the rest.” The villain of many Hollywood movies is often a sinister CEO manipulating the world for their own selfish benefit. Profit is almost as dirty a word as capitalism. Unfortunately, being honorable isn’t a prerequisite of business. You can make a lot of money without factoring honor anywhere into the equation.

If you want to develop and maintain long-term business relationships, honor will probably need to be central to how you operate. In business, how people judge your character is critical to sustainable success because it is the basis of trust and credibility. Both of these essential assets can be destroyed by actions that are or are perceived to be unethical. Thus, successful executives must be concerned with both their character and their reputation. Abraham Lincoln described character as the tree and reputation as the shadow. Your character is what you really are; your reputation is what people think of you. Thus, your reputation is purely a function of perceptions (i.e., do people think your intentions and actions are honorable and ethical), while your real character is determined and defined by your ultimate actions.

How to be honorable

  1. Find and live by an honor code. James R. Otteson, author of Honorable Business: A Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society, suggests these five principles:
  • You are always morally responsible for your actions
  • You should refrain from using coercion and the threat of injury
  • You should refrain from fraud, deception, and unjust exploitation
  • You should treat all parties with equal respect for their autonomy and dignity
  • You should honor all terms of your promises and contracts, including your fiduciary responsibilities
Always do what you say you’re going to do. If you are constantly backing out of social plans or not showing up when you said you’d help out, work on your follow-through.Care about other people. The honorable among us really care about the people in their life. They’re the parents who work second and third jobs to make sure their kids have enough and the friends who refuse to let their pals get behind the wheel after a night of drinking. Honorable people show their deep love for others through their actions. If the people in your life don’t know you’ve got their backs, it’s time to start showing them that you do. Speak the truth. Honesty and honor go hand in hand.

Think and pray
So practice always telling the truth, whether it’s about your own intentions or an outside situation. It will certainly make you uncomfortable at times, and you might be subject to other people’s anger or hurt feelings. But ultimately, people will appreciate that you’re someone who tells it like it is instead of sugarcoating.

Heavenly Father, being honorable is essential to following You. Help me to conduct myself in all areas of my life in a manner that is honorable to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Philip W. Struble is the President of Landplan Engineering and is passionate about helping business leaders steward their companies in a way that honors God. He is the author of Zebedee and Sons Fishing Co.: Business Advice from the Bible and hosts a weekly blog atwww.zebedeeandsonsfishingco.com. Philip and his wife, Stephanie, have four adult children and currently reside on a small farm in rural Douglas County, Kansas.