John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, recently announced his retirement. The announcement came shortly after the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Wells Fargo a record $185 million for widespread illegal sales. Thousands of employees (approximately 5,300) were fired.
Employees reportedly opened at least 2,000,000 unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts as employees strove to reach impossible goals, according to The Wall Street Journal. Goal attainment was paramount. The ends appeared to justify the means. The Los Angeles Times reported that employees opened ghost accounts, forged signatures and even falsified customer phone numbers so they couldn't be reached inadvertently with customer satisfaction surveys. A lack of control systems has become publicly apparent. Wells Fargo management reportedly had known of serious problems for years (Inc.com), but apparently had not addressed it sufficiently.
A little more than a year ago, Volkswagen made similar headlines. Volkswagen had set nearly impossible goals for market growth while meeting emission standards. The pressure proved too great for some. Volkswagen intentionally developed software that would allow their vehicles to meet emission standards in laboratory settings, while emitting as much as 40 times the legal limits in real-world conditions. Fines were given. Stock prices fell. Lawsuits were filed. Again, personnel within the company had to have known of the issue, but failed to address the problem.
In the kingdom, ministers have fallen as their private sins became public. Churches have closed. Donations have ceased. The body of Christ has been exposed to public ridicule. Faith has been shaken. Some of the members have left the church to never return. While some of these fallen ministers are eventually restored, others have left the ministry or even the Christian faith. Nearly every time, people within the body knew of the transgression but failed to appropriately address the situation.
In other instances, brothers and sisters in Christ begin to exhibit behaviors that are going to lead to bad outcomes if unaddressed. Usually, these behaviors are observed by others in the body, but too often the individuals are never helped. Repentance, if necessary, is delayed. The unresolved issues have the opportunity to morph into more serious or even multiple challenges. A matter that could have been easily rectified by gently getting the person on a better path, if unaddressed, has the potential to damage or destroy many lives.
Failing to address challenges, problems and issues in a timely manner is a recipe for disaster. Eli ignored the sins of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They bedded women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting and disrespected the offering by taking meat before the fat had been burned. The Lord told Eli that he honored his sons above Him. Scriptures indicate that the word of the Lord was rare in those days and that there were no visions coming forth; could there be a connection with Eli's failure to address his sons behavior in a timely manner? Hophni, Phinehas and Eli lost their lives on the same day. The ark of the covenant was lost to the Philistines. A curse was placed on Eli's family (1 Sam. 1-4, MEV).
"Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering, which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me" (1 Sam. 2:29, MEV).
"Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days. There was no vision coming forth" (1 Sam. 3:1, MEV).
Leaders should be problem solvers. Good leadership requires that problems, challenges and issues be addressed in a timely manner. A culture which nips problems in the bud allows the church to grow in favor and significance. Families and individuals are blessed. The Lord is glorified. Let us choose to nip problems when they are still small and more easily corrected.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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