This is well said by Phillip Johnson, in his foreword to Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth:
Every one of us has a worldview, and our worldview governs our thinking even when — or especially when — we are unaware of it.
Thus, it is not uncommon to find well-meaning evildoers, as it were, who are quite sincerely convinced that they are Christians, and attend church faithfully, and may even hold a position of leadership, but who have absorbed a worldview that makes it easy for them to ignore their Christian principles when it comes time to do the practical business of daily living.
Their sincerely held Christian principles are in one category for them, and practical decision making is in another. Such persons can believe that Jesus is coming again to judge the world and yet live as if the standards of this world are the only thing that needs to be taken into account.
That’s a very profound statement. It is worth re-reading and reflecting on.
I remember experiencing this dichotomy in my own life. My senior year in college, I had an internship as a claims adjuster at a large insurance company. One of the things we were taught was that the popular dictum “the customer is always right” would bankrupt the company.
The reason is that customers often had an inadequate conception of their insurance policies, thinking that certain things would be covered when they are in fact not. If we granted the wishes of the customer in each of those cases, we would be paying far beyond what the policies were designed to cover, which would indeed spell disaster for the company.
In this case, of course, the reasoning is correct. The policy rates were set on the basis of the limitations on the policy spelled out in the contract, and to go against those would be to over extend the capacity of the company to pay the claims. I don’t think there is anything unbiblical about sticking to agreed upon characteristics of the insurance policy, especially since the customers are able to read and agree to the policy with full knowledge and consent when they sign on.
The problem, though, was that this could easily have an unwelcome side effect. Even though the company did not advocate doing so, nonetheless this reality could easily create an adversarial mindset toward the customers of the insurance company. You could go in expecting them to disagree, and your mission was to make sure not to give in. Your task could easily become not seeking to maximally serve the customer within the constraints imposed by the policy, but standing your ground against the customer. And justifying that by saying “this is what the policy states. You just have to deal with it.”
That would be an example of following the standards the world often follows — and thinking you are justified in doing so because, of course, you really can’t pay out for things the policy does not cover. Right?
The problem here is not with upholding the policy. The biblical answer here would not be to go against the agreed upon characteristics of the insurance policies. The problem is with what is being left out — namely, humanity.
The biblical answer here was not to go against the policies, but to remember compassion and understanding. As claims adjusters we might not be able to give the customers what they really wanted in certain cases, but we could always accompany that with saying “I understand this is frustrating. I am sorry about this. And perhaps the conception of this policy is not as helpful as it should be, and we will need to look into that. But this is the policy that was agreed on, and this is what we have to stick to.”
That is a very different approach than just giving people the cold hard facts and saying “deal with it.” It seems so obvious. This is a way of treating the customer with dignity and respect, even when they are not “right” and cannot have their way.
Yet, that that is the type of thing you don’t always see. Perhaps some people think that showing understanding opens them to liability or risk. To acknowledge the person’s frustration, they think, is perhaps to acknowledge that the policy is indeed bad, thus opening them to a lawsuit.
But fear of risk is never a good reason to fail to take the actions that are necessary for affirming a person’s dignity. People’s concerns need to be validated. Even if the company is technically “right,” as was the case most of the time in these situations, it is never right to toss that out as a cold hard fact that a person just has to “deal with.”
This is just one small example of how Christian principles can be set aside in the name of seemingly doing “the right thing” according to a certain (even legitimate) set of standards, and how a Christian view can come in and provide what is missing so that people are always treated the way they ought to be treated.
There are lots of other examples that are more extreme and more significant. Regardless of the situation you are in, always remember to ask not only “what are the typical practices for handling this situation in my industry” but also “what does God have to say about this type of thing, and how does that apply to me as well?”