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Business is all about relationships, and every day at work presents us with a choice. Will we fight for fear-free connections with those around us, or will we default into self-protection and participate in a relational culture of disconnection?

This is the choice between honor and dishonor, and it flows from our hearts and our core beliefs about people.

In “The Business of Honor,” Bob Hasson and Danny Silk lay out a pathway for living with a heart of honor in business, from receiving one’s identity to investing in healthy relationships and taking the lead in building honoring culture in a company or organization.

In 2013, my company, Hasson Painting Contractors, Inc., completed a large project that had been fraught with large cost overruns and put us in a negative cash flow position for over twenty-four months. Closing out the project landed us in an uncomfortable six-month negotiation process with the client, which was scheduled to culminate with a final settlement meeting in early February 2014. 

An Unexpected Strategy 

The night before the meeting, Lauren and I hosted our weekly couples group. I had chosen an obscure Bible story about King Jehoshaphat for our discussion. In the story, enemy armies have surrounded Judah and a devastating attack seems imminent. Jehoshaphat calls the whole nation together to pray and inquire of the Lord about what to do. At last, a prophet comes forward with God’s response: 

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s . . . You will not have to fight this  battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

The next morning, Jehoshaphat leads his army out to face the enemy with a vanguard of men singing praise songs to God. They then watch as God sets ambushes for the enemy and defeats them. 

As we discussed the story, members of the group began to share about the battles they were currently facing in life and business. I explained the details of my company’s troubled project and the stakes that hung over the next day’s negotiation meeting. When we prayed, I felt a strong conviction that God was directing me to use the same sort of strategy He had given to Judah all those centuries before. 

The next morning, I got in my car, turned up my worship music, and began to pray and sing to the Lord. About thirty minutes into the drive, I heard that distinct, still, small voice of the Holy Spirit speak to my heart: “You are not to talk at the closeout meeting.” 

I knew this direction had to be the Lord, because it was ludicrous. I was the communicator, negotiator, and mediator on our team. Our strategy was that I would lead the meeting and call on the other guys to add their expertise as necessary. Yet as absurd as the idea of me being silent seemed, I felt strangely peaceful about it. Aloud in the car, I said, “Yes, Lord.” 

When I met up with the rest of the team, I  launched into the story about Jehoshaphat, my singing time in the car, and the Lord’s instruction to me. Unsurprisingly, I was met first with silence, then lively debate and discussion. I agreed with them that the stakes of the closeout were enormous and that this strategy seemed crazy, if not impossible. I had never been quiet in a meeting in my life and had no idea how I was going to pull it off. However, in my experience, I explained, most direction from God didn’t seem to make sense at first but always worked out in the end, and I felt peaceful about this approach. 

The Negotiation Meeting

When we arrived at the jobsite, we filed into the conference room at the trailer complex. Introductions were made, and I didn’t say a word to anyone as we all shook hands. The contractor’s closer opened the meeting and then handed it off to the onsite director, who led a back-and-forth fact-finding discussion with my guys covering entitlement for each issue at hand. This continued for two hours, during which I continued to remain completely silent. 

Finally, the closer said, “I have heard enough. Bob, come with me into my office.” I followed him down the hall to his office and sat down facing him. 

“Here is what we are prepared to offer,” he said, and named a sum. 

I sat back in my chair, considering. 

Before I could reach a conclusion, the man interrupted my thoughts, said, “Okay, how about this?” and raised the offer. 

Again, I said nothing. The number was better, but still slightly under what I had been prepared to accept. I looked down at my notes, playing for time, and silently asking the Lord, What now? 

Before I could look up, he spoke again. “This is my final offer.” This time, the number was good—very good. 

I looked at him, smiled, and reached out my hand out to shake on the deal. Wasting no time, he led me back out of the office to the conference room, announced to the group that the deal was done, and instructed his team to draw up the paperwork, have it executed, and process payment documents within thirty days. We all shook hands again and they quickly ushered us out. 

I had not said one word the entire meeting. 

Once in the car, I delivered the amount of the settlement agreement—a number that had exceeded all of our expectations. We couldn’t stop talking about this favorable—totally miraculous—result. Before long, the guys were giving me a hard time. “Well, Bob, I guess the lesson is that you should be quiet more often.”