In President Obama’s address to Congress this week, he told the story of a Miami banker who gave away $60 million dollars of his own money to employees.
In an era of unprecedented corporate fraud and greed, it was refreshing to hear such a remarkable example of generosity and stewardship.
The story reminded me of another remarkable example of corporate generosity in the mid 1990’s. In 1995 the Malden Mills factory burnt down in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The CEO, Aaron Feuerstein, used his insurance money to rebuild the factory, but also to pay the salaries of all the then unemployed workers while it was being rebuilt. Feuerstein spent millions keeping all 3,000 employees on the payroll with full benefits for 6 months. He said, "I have a responsibility to the worker, both blue-collar and white-collar . . . Maybe on paper our company is worthless to Wall Street, but I can tell you it’s worth more." Feuerstein understood that his decision did not make financial sense, but believed it made moral sense, which was far more valuable.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen if more corporate leaders understood their leadership as one of stewardship on behalf of their community and employees.
Mark 10:25, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Acts 20:33-35, "I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"
1 Timothy 6:17-19, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."