2020 Second Place Winner Christian Studies Scholarship
by Griffen Hotz
Today’s America looks very different from the America of one hundred, fifty, or even just ten years ago. It seems there is a constant shift to relativism and a rejection of a common code of ethics and morality. This is taking its toll. Divorce rates are up. People feel isolated. There is a universal sense of confusion, aimlessness, and a lack of foundation. The antidote to this is the firm foundation of faith, built on God’s word, Christ’s love, and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. Aside from this, no business, education system, or individual, can fulfill its purpose.
There is a difference between the fact that Christian education and leadership enhances the moral fibers of our country and how this actually happens. Effects of things are seen all over the world, but often many fail to understand why things are the way they are. The Christian principles many operate under are a result of Christian faith. I find it strange how many people like the principles and the effects of them, then deny their genesis. The Christian moral system is, finally, about humanity. It is not, however, the humanity that serves as a sort of secular salvation, the hope that by being a good person one will earn salvation. It is rather a profound conviction that every human is made in the image of God and that all are valued exceedingly by God. That is how the moral fibers are enhanced. Christians see and revere God’s work in each other.
In business, the Imago Dei, or image of God, means that people must treat each transaction with the respect that one is making a deal with someone valued by God. Thus, taking advantage of someone is an offense to them and a rejection of God’s valuation of that person. It is only through pride that one can treat others worse than they would want to be treated. An average person may run a company with employees that are viewed as subordinates to be ordered around. A Christian business leader feels the responsibility to treat those employees with the dignity they share. They understand that the work they assign gives purpose to those people and as such respect both the employees and the tasks. A Christian business leader also has the humility to understand that even their business is not truly theirs, but they are stewards of God’s work. This should inspire a calling to give with an open hand. Many people see the effect of Christian businesses being generous, but the generosity shows God’s love to all, reinforcing a strand in the moral fiber of the United States: people are worthy of love without a price.
Today’s world, for better or worse, is becoming increasingly global. Yet, culturally, the differences are vast. An average business leader can function with a relativist system, molding to whatever culture they deal with or perhaps taking advantage of some. For Christians who believe that God created all people, every culture must be treated with the high standards of the Bible. God is not a God of nations, but a God of the universe. Christian business leaders bring a good name to the United States when they deal with every culture with respect and integrity. When people are treated well, they are more inclined to pass this on.
Many Christians lead in businesses that are not outwardly Christian. The same effects of the recognition of the Imago Dei still occur and spread to co-workers. However, some businesses are outwardly Christian. These types of organizations have the special ability to promote Biblical messages through their business. I have ordered from Christian companies and had Bible verses or the message of saving grace come on a pamphlet in the box. It makes me, as a Christian, think actively about ways I could do something similar. For a non-believer, it may reach them in a time of need. Additionally, Christian business leaders can choose not to promote harmful, immoral, or gratuitous things. Today, the things we see in advertising, on TV, and in film would once have been considered vulgar. Now, we have become desensitized to it. This clearly erodes the morality of the United States, creating a population that is used to harmful messaging. For a Christian business to stand up against immorality of this kind is gives people a voice against what many see as normal. At the core, the way Christian business leaders enhance the moral integrity of our nation is by recognizing customers, markets, employees, and their work as direct creations of God of which they are to be good stewards.
Education is also an important setting for instilling a sense of ethics in citizens of this or any other country. Here, the reason why America’s moral fibers are enhanced has more to do with relationships at a young age and integrity at an older age. Young children are impressionable and the relationships they form at a young age will have a profound impact. Most children under the age of ten don’t truly have the experience to understand that not every adult is always a good model. When teachers feel the conviction that the children in their care are God’s children, they will take their job all the more seriously. Children will grow up surrounded by role models of Christian behavior. They will treat each other with this same Christian love, as instructed by the teacher. From a young age, the children can connect the good people who care for them with the good Christian values they hold. It’s a powerful bond. As children grow older, hopefully, those relationships are strong enough to rely on when they begin to question their world, as they doubtless will do. Then, they can understand the values that made them who they are. As children grow into young adults, they may also face a lack of motivation to do the work before them. This can lead to a lack of respect for their work and their teachers. However, Christian education should instill, instruction, and a curriculum that frames all with the Biblical worldview, a sense that doing work to one’s best ability is honorable. This too is a lesson that can be carried for life and when applied by many makes a better America. College is perhaps one of the most important formats for Christian education. Many hold college to be the time where young adults determine who they will be as men and women in their families, jobs, and communities. A crucial time in development, young people are heavily influenced by those around them. Many secular colleges have professors who would rather remake student’s worldview then challenge them to think for themselves. Higher education should be about growing in wisdom, maturity, and knowledge in an environment where the professors and other students share in the community. Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, calls upon the believers to bear with one another in love. This is the basis of a Christian community. No matter how good a secular institution is, it seems a Christian education, surrounded by those who seek to serve and live out Christ’s love, is a far better environment in which to mature. In that environment, one can hone their values and stand firm in a Christian faith, backed by the accountability of others.
I am naturally an individualist. I enjoy time alone, tackling problems head-on, and not being tied to a large group. When I looked at college, I let my misconceptions color my view and I was not eager to attend a Christian college. That all changed after tours. On secular campuses, the students seemed stressed and unhappy. On the Christian campuses, the students, staff, and faculty went out of their way to treat me and everyone I saw them interact with extremely well. I believe that when God works in people’s hearts, that is the result. I knew a wanted to be a part of that community so that I could support others and grow in my faith with strong role models around me.
Beyond college, it is my goal to be a pastor. When I reflected on the skills, passions, and experiences God has given me, I felt strongly called to ministry. Today we live in a world of relativism where people feel lost and directionless. People are starved for meaningful connections with each other. Spouses struggle to come together as one, and families are plagued with an age of bad influences and lack of motivation. I believe the antidote is the foundation that God’s love and Biblical truth provide. As a pastor, I will bring this foundation to people, energize them to bring it to others, and counsel with firm Biblical truth. On this unshakeable foundation, relationships, families, and meaningful impact will be built. However, I cannot effectively do this without a solid foundation myself. As I delve deep into Biblical study, I know that my faith will be tested. However, the foundation of Christian education I will have built with the support of others and the relationships God will no doubt bring together in college will be a rock to stand on. I have big plans to bring American families together and plan to lead from this strong foundation of Christian principles, morals, and God’s love.
It is of no doubt that we live in a fallen world, with less than perfect people. Equally true is the capacity of Godly men and women to fight back against a world continent to slide off into a subjective immoral existence. Christian business leaders can set an example of what it means to have a purpose and recognize the humanity of others in an economic setting. Educators and students have the ability to create an environment where people can be brought up in such a way that they understand God’s will and desire His kingdom on earth. For America’s moral fibers to be meaningfully enhanced, everyone who lives in Christ must do their part, focusing their actions, thoughts, and lives towards building an America of integrity and faith.