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And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2

After the new year, I took almost two months off to do some traveling. It has been quite a while since I had any decent break. During the Chinese Lunar New Year, I had taken the opportunity to spend time visiting families and friends I have not been seeing for a while.

When the festive season is over, I took my family up North of Malaysia, for a 3-week vacation in Penang Island, and in between time, dropping off my daughter at Sungai Petani, Kedah, for her much awaited visit to her pal’s home. It was one of the ‘dad’ things that I have to do in life, to make the visit possible for her, to meet one of her artist friend that she’s been longing to see.

On our way home, we spent several days in the town of Ipoh, to visit old friends and to savor its famous beansprout chicken rice, but not forgetting the endless nights we spent at Gurney Drive, trying out all kinds of food from every stall. Nothing beats Penang food. Every meal on that island tastes good. Even if you buy a packet of ‘Nasi Kandar’ from a ramshackle stall set up next to a road, it tastes delicious.

So, after the much needed holiday, I’m back at my desk, and ready to write again. My son asked me, so what are you writing this time. I answered him and chuckled, ‘According to the standards of false churches and the ways of this world, it’ll be nothing good for them!’

An Extraordinary Encounter

“Dealing with Peter is extremely pleasant. He seems to know what his company needs, and he knows how to communicate to get what he wants.” my son said to me. “Well, Peter is a Christian, and he is one of the smarter ones who knows how to follow rules and not break them,” I replied. “Because of his allegiance to truth and righteousness, you can clearly see that his traits is passed down and practiced by people in his own company.”

The above was part of a recent conversation between my son and I, discussing about his development of a software solution for a client, who design and manufacture kitchenette furniture. My son is intrigued by how he was treated by this client. The client is very professional in his dealings; he knew exactly what he wanted from us, he spent time to understand what we need to put together the solution that he wants, and to enable us to deliver it to him. After he signed off the purchase order and made payment for my son’s services, he got down to business immediately, and wasted no time. But the merits in him that shine for all to see, is none other than his passion for discipline, trustworthiness and productivity.

The client, Peter (not his real name), set goals in every aspect of his leadership, in the day to day running of his company. He had a sizable team of sales executives to assist him in dealing with customers, while at the back end, he already had a robust manufacturing network, ready to build and supply to the specifics of every of his customers’ requirements. The ideal workflow is already in his head. Right now, he is managing the details with what he’s got; Microsoft Excel. And he knew he needed an automation platform to replace manual management. That was how he contacted my son, to develop a business process management system for him. And the rest is history.

He’s got the money, the people, the assets and the knowledge to put together a fruitful venture. He has staff and manpower to assist him with every aspect of his company; from finance to sales and to legal administration. He appears to know who to hire for each job in his organization, things that requires fixing. He even knows who needs to be fired, and he had his lawyers lined up to deal with them. He’s got it all. But what’s pleasant about Peter is not merely the achievements of his successful business. Rather than money and success, it is his passion for God and the ways of God. It was the guiding principles from Scripture, that I saw being translated into the way he managed his company, that ultimately made him so successful.

No, he does not boast about what he does or where he visited for holidays or where he went for expensive coffee. Being a fairly young executive, yet he does not use social media to brag about his lifestyle. But despite this, I can clearly see his achievements; in the way he dress, the way he communicate with people and the way he manage his wealth and the resources given him. He’s the type of individual who could afford to pay cash for a brand new Cayenne if he wants to, but yet humble enough to treat every person who crosses his path, with due respect and humility. And yes, my son was right. Dealing with Peter is extremely pleasant. Credit has to be given where credit is due.

The Ways Of The World

In contrast, let’s look at the lifestyle of an ex-pastor from a church in Rawang. He portrays himself like a person who follows God. He attends church religiously, he contributes money and for decades, he participated as a preaching pastor. To many, he is like a role model. Apparently.

Even in his sermons, he challenged others, to be like him. Yes, he told others to be like him (and not like Christ). He said, that if people were to become like him, they will be saved and they will go to heaven. Therefore according to him, to be like him is to have salvation, as if he holds the keys to heaven.

In his business, he once projected his organization with all kinds of catch words, phrases and slogans. No cheat, no lie, no bribe. He use these sentences to lift himself in the eyes of the public, painting a narrative as though the people inside his company and him, are as holy as white snow.

And in the course of doing so, he obtains an ISO37001 certification for his company, the anti-bribery management system published by the International Organization for Standardization. All appears well and good, until you take a closer look inside his closets.

But after a simple incident of trial and test, he exposed himself as a fraud and a hypocrite. The procedures and the management flow that he put in place in his company to combat corruption, showed itself as nothing more than mere tools for him to secure his accreditation. It was never meant to be a practical means to fight corruption at all.

In this ex-pastor’s company, the people who work for him practices all kinds of nefarious deeds, no different from other non-believers. They lie and they cheat one another. They are untrustworthy. They use company property for their own selfish purposes. Software solutions that were purchased by the company, were quietly used by staff to facilitate their own unofficial dealings outside the company. They plant remote ‘backdoor’ links in their company servers, in order to access its functions and features, without their bosses’ knowledge. While under official employment payroll, they conduct themselves more in their side deals earning them side income, by illegally using the resources of their employer company, stealing to facilitate their works outside business hours.

The irony is that these people working for the ex-pastor, are also church going, self-professing Christians. On Sundays, they appear like regular believers, but in six other days of the week, they conduct themselves like the devil and his demons; they are deceptive, they lie, they cheat and they do all kinds of nefarious things in the name of greed. They are like their false pastors from their false churches; in all things they do, they cannot be audited. They are like darkness with no ability to stand in Light.

At the top of the chain, instead of fighting what is wrong, this ex-pastor would willingly cover up the deeds of his own people, and doing it at all cost. Whatever that is being reported to him, goes down the rabbit hole and never to be seen or spoken again. And it became obvious, that this ex-pastor is never keen about fighting corruption. All his anti-graft pursuits, is only for show and to paint himself to appear like a community leader who practice righteousness.

To this ex-pastor, corruption could only be a problem issue grappling people outside his company. As for those under his payroll, they are touted to be saints, all clean and all righteous. If he fights bribery, he targets only those who ask his people for money. As for his own people, it is impossible for them to do so. Because, as long as you are employed by this ex-pastor, you are literally sanctified by him and you cannot sin – because they work for him, and he was once a pastor. Therefore, to this ex-pastor, fighting corruption is about fighting those who exclusively ask his sales executives for money in exchange for business deals. It is not about weeding corruption completely, not within his own rung, or his own people who ask others for money.

If one or more of his employees are caught for improper conduct, the immediate action taken by this ex-pastor is not to investigate any allegations, but instead he uses all means at his disposal, to cover up the crimes in order to protect the apparent sacrosanct status of his organization, as a ISO-certified company having apparent anti-corruption management systems. This ex-pastor fears more losing his accreditation than to stand clean before God.

In between the lines immediately not obvious to the naked eye; this ex-pastor is never concerned about righteousness. His apparent anti-graft pursuits are merely means for his company to become certified, and nothing more. And there’s clear incentives for him to remain certified; it gives him access to international trades. It is about making more money through having more new businesses with other ISO-compliant, larger organizations. It was never about doing what is right. It was never about righteousness despite portraying himself to be one. It is about his own greed.

But the worse from his attics, is his immediate expectation to be respected by others. He neither pays any heed to respecting others nor put in any effort to earn respect from others. If you deal with him, it is a one way street; you do all the work, he gets all the glory. All he cares is to pander up to politicians and to people holding high positions. Simply put, to even earn any respect from this ex-pastor, is very much a waste of time. Other than his bragging and empty promises, he brings nothing of eternal value to the people around him.

Peter vs the Ex-Pastor

Both are reputable business owners. Both are known Christians in their respective communities. But one calls himself a pastor, while the other is just a plain church-going believer.

But the traits of Christ can be clearly seen in one of them, while the other resembles more like a hypocrite, molded out from ancient Sanhedrin. One has no followers. But the other, led many according to his own ways and wishes.

In our daily prayers, we seek God’s intervention to lead us not into wider roads, where paths are easy and tempting. But rather, let us be on narrow roads, that lead us to life and not to death. (Matthew 7:13-14). Better to suffer with less than to be among those who understood little, concerning the Father’s will.

To end my first post for year 2023, allow me to reiterate once more what my son said – doing business with Peter is indeed extremely pleasant. And if you can’t see what I see, that’s probably because one of us had a speck in the eye, of the size of a log.