For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? (Mt. 16:26)
When it became clear that the Enron Company was going down, I sent out an electronic message to the church community, inviting those impacted to have lunch the following week.
I’d expected only about a dozen to come, but nearly forty reserved a spot. After giving them all a chance to share their anger, grief, and worry, we began to plan how our community could support these people moving forward. We set up counseling sessions, vocational services, and support groups. I’ll never forget what one guy said during our time together: “Although we knew that Enron was a house of cards, we didn’t know that the house was built on a sea of gasoline. All it took was one match to blow up the whole thing.”
The work at the church was profiled by the New York Times, which then led to a series of interviews. Ultimately, I was invited to be on the Bill Moyers show. At the end of a day of filming, I asked the interviewers what they had learned from their Enron inquiries.
One said, “I learned two things. First, the culture and atmosphere at Enron were darker than we had anticipated. Second, it’s indeed possible to gain the whole world and to lose your soul.”
The story of Enron—and others like it—compels us to take stock of our own lives and work. The people who founded Enron weren’t bad guys, but their drive to achieve fame and fortune caused them to lose their moral compass.
We don’t want to be like them. If there’s anything you’re doing at work, at home, or anywhere else that’s causing you to lose your values, character, or integrity, I encourage you to stop now. Nothing is worth such losses.
The guys that led Enron to great fame and then to great shame not only compromised their souls they also destroyed their whole corporation. For a fleeting season, it looked like they had profited by gaining the whole world, but, in time, they ended up forfeiting their reputation, their fortune, and the futures of many of their employees.
- Have you ever been so driven to gain fame or fortune that your character or integrity was compromised? If so, have you turned back?
- I want to return to the guy who said, “Although we all knew Enron was a house of cards…” Are you building any part of your life on the equivalent of a “house of cards?” If so, how could you have a more solid foundation?
- How strong is your moral compass right now? Are you clear or unclear about who you are, what you stand for, and what you will do?