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Serving Two Masters?: Reflections on God and Profit [Hardcover]

C. William Pollard

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Imagine you are a manager at a large company. You stay current with the latest thinking in business management and leadership. You are up on the trends in sales and operations. But for the wealth of resources available, you haven't found much support in answering some of the most important questions about your business life: How can I manage the tension of living an authentic faith while delivering ever-increasing business results? Is there meaning in my work beyond making a living? How can I understand the world of money and profit in the context of my faith or a purpose and meaning for life? Who's been there before me?

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Encouraging Message From The Corner Office - "Serving Two Master? Reflections On God And Profit" by C. William Pollard 3 May 2006
By Alan L. Chase - Published on Amazon.com
What a striking and ironic juxtaposition! On the same day that MSN.com ran an article on the ten best prisons for CEO's, Harper Collins published a book by former ServiceMaster CEO, C. William Pollard. Seeing the recent pathetic performance of Enron's Kenneth Lay in the dock trying to explain away egregious acts of misfeasance and malfeasance, it is a refreshing change to hear from a CEO who wrestled with his conscience before being prodded to do so by a Grand Jury!

In this book, that consists of a compilation of short inspirational messages that Pollard delivered to the ServiceMaster Board of Directors over the course of twenty-five years, the author leads us gently through a healthy questioning over the over-arching question: "Are principles of faith and principles of smart business practice compatible?"

ServiceMaster's formal Corporate Objectives make it clear that the company's leaders believe that it is possible to integrate these two streams of principles into one organization. The ServiceMaster vision is:

To honor God in all we do

To help people develop

To pursue excellence

And to grow profitably

"We are often asked if these four objectives are compatible. Some people believe there is an inevitable conflict between spiritual values and economic objectives. Can a person, they wonder, honor God and make a profit?" (Pages 108-109)

Through the book, Pollard answers with great clarity this rhetorical question. He offers one inspiring example and case study after another to reinforce the fact that a company can successfully navigate the tricky waters of being faithful to God while at the same time keeping faith with all of the company's stake holders.

At the heart of the ServiceMaster philosophy is the principle of "Servant Leadership."

"Several months ago, while teaching a ServiceMaster case study at Harvard Business School, I was asked by one of the students, `What is the most important trait you would look for in your successor?' My answer was, `A person who had or could develop a servant's heart.'" (Page 42)

Pollard continues his explanation of the centrality of servanthood to the ServiceMaster way of life:

"The theme of our annual report this year is `Leading and Learning by Serving.' The sculpture on the cover was created by Esther Augsburger and depicts Jesus Christ washing his disciples' feet - a striking and practical example of servant leadership. This sculpture and the granite wall behind it listing those who have contributed twenty-five years or more of service to our company, will be at the entrance of our new office facility at One ServiceMaster Way. It will be a reminder that our company has been built by those who have made career commitments to serve with a mission and a purpose." (Page 45)

Skeptics might wonder if a corporate culture in which faith in Jesus Christ is part of the public persona of the CEO is a place where those who are not practicing Christians might feel oppressed or uncomfortable. Is ServiceMaster a company that beats its employees and customers over the head with the Bible? Pollard addresses these concerns as he tells about his friend and colleague, Bisher Mufti:

"Now, for me as a follower of Jesus Christ and also a leader in this firm, I must live my faith in such a way that it is not imposed upon my colleagues, but instead can be examined, understood, and in some cases, embraced by them as they seek not only to do things right, but also to do the right thing."

"One of those colleagues and friends is currently serving as vice president of our international division with primary responsibilities for our businesses in the Middle East. Bisher Mufti joined ServiceMaster twenty-eight years ago as a young immigrant from Jordan. His first job was a second-shift floor cleaner in one of the hospitals we were serving. He has grown in our business and in his essay in this year's annual report, he specifically comments on how, as a Muslim, he has been accepted and nurture in our community. He has learned that there can be a common ground in our business for people of different faiths. It begins with `the way we respect and treat others.' As he has witnessed our values working in the lives of others and in his own life, he has concluded that the ServiceMaster objectives transcend differences and cultural backgrounds." (Pages 123-124)

This book is one that I will keep on my desktop, and refer to on a regular basis as a way of reminding me to keep my priorities in their proper order. This little gem of a volume comes with my highest recommendation. Whatever your religion, reading the thoughts of this successful business leader may help to restore your faith in the ability to succeed while maintaining ethical standards. We can all profit from such a vision and approach!

5.0 out of 5 stars I choose to work for them and I lived it with them and i was glad 8 Oct 2013
By Asa Ferguson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The years I spent with them in K THUR 12 Education,Banking ,food manufacturing and two universities was truly a life of learning and was very rewarding because the did really live what the book spoke of. I was privileged to be in an Award of excellences meeting will many of the leaders in the book. I heard them speak and later as I grew in the company I received awards and even spoke at some of there district meetings. Some of the finest friends I have, I met at my job in the form of employees ,fellow labors in the service providers ,And the customers I served. I am friends with many of them to this day. I retired 7 years ago and reading this book brought back many great memories. I believe the presentation was fair and truthful. In fact I wish I could go back in time with the knowledge I have. hindsight is 20/20 I know I would be a better man and a better leader of people now that I have had time to reflect on the years of my service. I know that I would have a better understanding of what God is doing in my life and in those I am called to serve. It is easy to see the spots on leaders that excel to places of high visibility and like many others I looked at the spots instead of seeing the good in them or that they did for me and others. One of the customers I served spoke to my people on the subject of "Rubble Gazing instead of wall building", found in the Bible about the man of God sent to rebuild the gates and wall of a city. Something that is easy to do when our focus is on the spots on a person instead of were it should be focused on.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Proving wrong the assumption that "you cannot serve both God and money" 6 May 2006
By Kathy K - Published on Amazon.com
Serving Two Masters? Reflections on God and Profit wasn't exactly what I expected. As a sole proprietor, it didn't quite address my particular situation in the manner I had hoped. With the reflections contained within running an average of 3-4 pages, I also found the chapter-closing Points to Ponder sections repetitive. They do, however, serve as a handy reference point for someone who doesn't have the time to read through a full chapter. All these things considered, from a personal standpoint, I give Serving Two Masters? an average rating. That, however, would not prevent me from recommending it to someone who better falls within its intended audience: managers of corporations. Geared toward corporate America, Serving Two Masters? offers some keen insight as to how God and financial profit can coexist. It also proves wrong the following assumption: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
5 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars God and Mammon 26 Feb 2007
By Jennifer M - Published on Amazon.com
Praise Jesus and pass the stock portfolios! Since Rick Warren and Joel Osteen have cornered the quasi-religious self-help market, Christian imprints need a new angle to get the folks back home to drop more money in the name of God. Enter C. William Pollard, here to tell us that, when Jesus instructed his disciples to give up all they owned and follow him, he was just kidding! Simply meditate on Pollard's hackneyed platitudes, then sit back and let the Holy Spirit wash away the moral ambiguity of runaway CEO salaries. If there's anything more frightening than the merger of corporatism and the state, it would be the merger of corporatism, the state, and fundamentalist Christianity.
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