Service Should Be the Motive in Business
August 1960 Monthly Letter
Most business enterprises are undertaken because those organizing or sponsoring them anticipate deriving benefit - profit or satisfaction - from them. Such a narrow concept, however, is not the truth about business, and to entertain any such concept would be as erroneous as to believe that a physician thinks that patients come to him in order to enrich him. Few doctors feel that way. They attitude of most doctors toward their patient is, "Thank You, Father, for the opportunity You are giving me to help these people." If the medical practitioner becomes rich through his practice, that is certainly legitimate, but only incidental to the service he is performing.
Why should not business concerns have the same attitude? For example, when a customer enters a department store, why is not the atmosphere charged with the thought, "Thank you for coming and giving us the opportunity to provide what you need. That we will make money through the transaction is incidental to the fact that we have the joy and opportunity of serving you. We are here for that purpose, and the income derived from the enterprise is only in proportion to our service to you."
Spiritually speaking, every business transaction is performed for the benefit of the public concerned, whether it is an article of clothing, a book, or a new heating plant. Whatever it is, the object in the business world should be to serve the needs of the customer and feel, when he comes into the shop, "Thank you for giving me this opportunity of blessing you." The businessman who takes that attitude need never worry about failure or bankruptcy. If a man is in business, he should make it a matter of specific treatment on his part to realize every day: "I'm going to my place of business to serve the community, not to make money or to get rich. Therefore, I make it such a pleasant place to come to that all those who enter it will be blessed."
This may not sound or seem like a very practical approach to what most people consider the hard and insensitive world of modern competitive enterprise, but nevertheless, many well-known and highly successful firms have been built on just such a principle of service.
Business is not cold; business is not cruel; business is not mercenary except in those cases where the heads of the business have not learned the spiritual principles of life. The man who has learned these principles should remind himself of them, keeping them uppermost in his consciousness, realizing that whoever enters the door of his business is entering the door of his consciousness, and that he must therefore meditate in order to have the presence of God there for his customers and associates to meet when they enter his consciousness. Every businessman should make it his business to meditate before he goes into his business, so that everybody who comes into his consciousness finds God waiting to greet him.
Once we realize that our conscious oneness with God constitutes our oneness with all spiritual being and idea, and as we learn to establish ourselves in that oneness, we shall literally prove that there is Something that lives our life for us, Something that goes before us to make the crooked places straight. Then we are not living our own life. Now there is Something within us that gives us a divine intuition, an adequate warning of when not to take a step or when to take the next step forward so that many of the troubles of life can be avoided and, if and when they seem not to be avoided, It will quickly take over for us.
As we practice the Presence and make contact with the Spirit within, we find ourselves moving in a spiritual rhythm that carries us forward. There is an awareness of a Presence, of Something flowing in and through us. Soon we realize that It carries the responsibility; It carries the weight, no matter how heavy the load. It does the work, and that relieves the pressure while we, in turn, become a beholder, a witness standing a little apart and to one side watching our life unfold.