Lessons in business morality from the Church: actions have consequences

Our guest blogger James Bradley is a final year ordinand at St Stephen's House, Oxford.  He hopes to be ordained in September 2010 to serve as assistant curate at St John the Baptist, Sevenoaks.

Actions have consequences. From going to war to choosing whether to have a curry the night before an important meeting or if your wife or husband gets the gadget they want at Christmas - actions have consequences.

And while we all know that to be true, many of us are less-than-great at doing very much about it. How often do we reach a decision based on little more than a mere five minute conference call or, even, gut feeling?

How many times do we work late (or, indeed, early) and compromise our ability to make right judgements through our own tiredness or exhaustion?

It doesn't seem right that the consequences of our actions-which often affect others far more than ourselves - should depend on such insubstantial methods of decision-making.

We would be appalled if a high-impact decision relating to us or our family was made in such a way, and yet, more often than we might care to admit, we do the same.

The thirteenth century Dominican, St Thomas Aquinas, tells us that the best way to deal with an impossible situation - the sort where neither option seems right or desirable-is to give ourselves time.

Making a decision based on poor information, or merely because of the limits of time, can rarely be moral - some things, especially in the world of finance and business, are too important to deal with in such a slap-dash way.

Instead, St Thomas suggests, we should give ourselves room to breathe; to allow the situation to unfold in front of us - often making the choice a much clearer one to make.

It's not always possible to do this but sometimes simply taking a step back, getting an early night, or delaying a difficult phone call or decision for another day, is actually the right thing to do. And right actions, eventually at least, have good consequences.

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