Making Business Partnerships Great: Part 4 – Fess Up to Your Partners

I was shown that you avoid conflicts at all costs, retreat and hide when arguments arose, and come back together later when cooler heads prevail and forget things happened.

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As a Cornell graduate, I held myself to a high standard in business. Admitting that I did something wrong would be counter-intuitive because…well…Cornell guys don’t get things wrong. Right?

This is precisely the attitude that landed me in problems with my partners. My pride and self-righteousness led me to believe that I had it all together, and this was the picture I wanted everyone to see.

Why would any of us openly admit our wrongdoings in business, especially the ones we can hide? We confess because denial thwarts transformation. If we value the appearance of success and wholeness over the real deal, our image becomes everything. But if we’re serious about wanting to have a dynamic business partnership, we have to move through that resistance and become transparent truth tellers.

The Old and New Testaments communicate that God hates lying (Exod. 20:16; Prov. 11:1; Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9).

In James, we read

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Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
James 5:16 NLT

I wasn’t taught this value when I was growing up. Instead, I was shown that you avoid conflicts at all costs, retreat and hide when arguments arose, and come back together later when cooler heads prevail and forget things happened.

This is why early on in my partnership, I felt no conflict by denying that I didn’t have the accounting all figured out when confronted by my partners. I wasn’t stealing, I just had no clue how to read and interpret financial statements to help guide our decision making.  As a Cornell graduate, I couldn’t admit that. Truth is, I hated my financial management classes. I’m confessing this now…but back then I was singing a different song.

Regardless of why we choose to dodge the truth, lies are lies. They deaden our consciences, prevent our partners from knowing us, and provide no impetus to stop sinning.

Confession takes truth-telling up a notch. Rather than waiting for your partners to ask if you finished the accounting reports, spent several hundred dollars out of the budget on an unnecessary expense, or not follow up with a big potential lead and subsequently lose the business, you forthrightly admit it—humbly and nondefensively. It’s really quite simple. As the apostle James advises, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

By design, confessions mortify us. We hate having others see our less-than-perfect selves. When we openly confess our broken thoughts and actions, we allow God to create a crack in the false images that we’ve worked so hard to perfect. This crack ruins the veneer but also allows forgiveness and grace to seep in.

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