Lead, follow, or get out of the way

Published 10:20 pm Friday, April 26, 2013

By Chris Surber

If there is one thing sorely lacking in our culture today, it is leadership. The country reels in financial and moral decline, largely as a result of a lack of courageous leadership at every level of government.

What about families? During my lifetime, male leadership — or even male presence — in the home has decreased, and families are similarly in moral, financial and spiritual decline. Sadly, many public corporations are no different.

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Thankfully, that’s not true for all of them. I heard of two organizations this week — one locally and one nationally — whose leaders are making moral choices the bottom line, rather than making the bottom line the bottom line.

The national craft store chain Hobby Lobby recently raised its minimum wage for full-time employees to $14 an hour. That makes the full-time minimum wage there 93 percent higher than the national average.

In an age when so many companies are laying off employees, combining positions and chopping retirement packages in an effort to safeguard the bottom line and executive salaries and benefits, Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David recognizes that it is the employees that make the company successful.

“We are very fortunate to be able to increase hourly wages for our employees, because we know our company would not be successful without the great work they do each day in our stores across the nation,” he said.

A new arrival in downtown Suffolk, sweetFrog, whose name stands for “Fully Rely On God,” took a similar lead this week. After the tragic death of one of its employees, sweetFrog was closed on Monday. I had to settle for a lesser treat at another establishment after pulling up to their front door with my family in tote, and finding a sign letting me know my frozen yogurt with chocolate chips would have to wait for another day.

Upon visiting their Facebook page to find out what was going on, my wife and I read this: “Tomorrow we ask the local community to help the family of a fellow employee and dear friend who is no longer with us. In loving memory, all sales made tomorrow will be given to her family. Donations to her family will also be gladly accepted. Please take the time to come by and help. Any gift will be accepted and greatly appreciated. Thank you for thinking of our fellow friend and God bless.”

Now that’s leadership.

Jerry Falwell, who founded the largest Christian university in the world, Liberty University, used to say of that institution, “If it’s Christian, it should be better.” Here are just two examples where it is better because it is Christian. Friend, if we claim Christ, we have a responsibility to set a better example. If we don’t provide godly leadership in the world, who will?

“Who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:17 ESV)

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.