The ethical theory of consequentialism states that the consequences of a person’s conduct is the ultimate basis upon which one can judge either the rightness or wrongness of that person’s actions. It is under this theory that the well known phrase of “the end justifies the means,” fits. So just what does that phrase mean? Well, it means that if a particular outcome is important enough then anything a person does to bring about that outcome is acceptable. You’ve probably seen this principle of ethics in action before. I sure have – up close and personal.
One of the positions that I had in the corporate world was at a high-profile company that has an excellent reputation. I had a work lead that was brilliant in her field of work, she was intelligent, she was ambitious, she could think very quickly, she could strategize, she worked hard, and the clients loved her work and respected her. Sounds like the ideal work lead doesn’t it? Well not exactly! There was a downside in working with this woman, additionally she was devious, manipulative, a backstabber, and a gossip that took great delight in running over anyone with whom she decided to put between her sights. Within six to seven months of my employment contract, she put a great big target on my back. It started out ever so slowly, but over time the attacks became more and more frequent. Assignments came to me that were outside my field of expertise, with no training to support the assignments, and critical information was withheld. Those assignments were set up on purpose to cause me to fail. Casual comments to my manager slipped in here and there about one or two small disappointments in my performance. Over time it all added up. I learned about her motives, and I learned about the five people that she ran roughshod over before I started working there – in fact the person I replaced had been there for over 10 years, and had a stellar record before this work lead started at the company. Those clients for whom she supposedly held in such high-esteem were trash talked behind their backs, she constantly played one person against another, and she also painted my manager (a truly decent Christian man) as totally incompetent. But even so, since her work was so good and got results, the clients turned a blind eye, and the manager was not aware of all of the work lead’s devious ways. The strain of that employment took a great toll on me both mentally and physically. And, after much prayer and godly guidance, when I felt that God was giving me a green light, I left that company.
For way too long, our culture has accepted this “end justifying the means” mentality. Indeed, the worldly culture seems to embrace it. Some may say “well that’s just the way it goes,” or perhaps “it’s always worked that way,” or perhaps “learn to work the system.” Once again we see that the ways of the world are directly opposite to God’s ways. God holds us to a higher standard doesn’t He? He gives us codes of conduct to us in His Word. He tells us to rise above vain ambition, He tells us to treat others with the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We don’t have to take matters into our own hands to get revenge, God will do it for us; we will be blameless and our conscience can be clear. In addition, He also tells us that in His timing He will make everything work out. We may never see the situation resolved on this side of Heaven, but we can have great assurance that for sure, each guilty party will eventually face the consequences of their actions when they meet God face-to-face.
Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” I have this assurance in that whatever I face in this life, I know that God will always be there protecting and comforting me.
Epilogue: About a year after I left the organization, one of my previous co-workers contacted me to let me know that the work lead was disgraced, discredited, and fired. “Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’ (Deuteronomy 32:35, ESV)