Sharing the bottom–line with the frontline, the supply-line, and those back at the clothesline.
1 Samuel 29-30 – This is the story of David’s family being kidnapped, how the rescue played out and the debate and decision over how the spoils of victory should be distributed. I reckon it offers some righteous principles for generosity, profit sharing and employee share schemes today.
A key scripture and point made by this account of David’s life is in 1 Samuel 30:24
“The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike. David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this”
This account shows how David was so passionate about this principle of generosity and sharing the spoils of victory that he made it a lasting law of the land.
The characters in this account are:
David – anointed as King, but living with the Philistines, Israel’s historic enemy, hiding from Saul who had been trying to kill him.
Achish the Philistine King – who took David in and whom David had been serving. The Philistines were about to go into battle with Israel. Achish’s generals did not trust David so sent him back.
The wives and children – innocently attacked by the enemy – an Amalakite raiding party. Waiting and praying for rescue, fearing abuse, slavery, rape and murder. Serving at home base in Ziklag.
Amalakite raiding party – attacked Ziklag – the town where David and his men lived with their families. They had raided elsewhere too and had much plunder. They attacked Ziklag while David was away with King Achish.
The priest Abiathar – David’s spiritual oversight through whom he sought the leading and direction of God. ‘Should I go up and attack the Amalakites?’
Egyptian slave – abandoned, sick, hungry – discarded by the Amalakite raiding party, left for dead – but was instrumental in pointing the way to the enemy and to victory.
David’s fighting men – 600 in total.
– ‘200 were too exhausted to cross the ravine’ to go after the Amalakites.
– 400 went on to fight the battle, and defeat the raiding party.
– Some of this 400 were described as ‘evil men and troublemakers’ – who did not want to share the plunder with those who did not risk their lives.
The elders of Judah – ‘who were his friends’ – maybe they had offered wise counsel in the past?
The people in the towns of Israel – ‘those in all the other places where David and his men had roamed’. Maybe these people had taken David and his men in and shown them hospitality?
The principle today
It offers a challenge for us today in how we view sharing profits with employees and stakeholders. Sometimes the apparently lowest role in an organisation can be key to customer service or to ongoing operations of a company. Sometimes the last on team can offer a significant contribution to winning a pitch. Sometimes the apparently weak show the way of the competition and to overcoming competition. Sometimes those who have been serving faithfully in past work and battles do not have the energy for this current project. Their faithfulness got you to this point. How about being generous with the ‘women and children’ on your team who look after home base while you’re out fighting, how about being generous to those ‘elders’ in the team – who may not be as fast but offer us wise counsel, or sharing the profits with those ‘in places we have roamed’ – who have taken us in at just the right time.
Traditional, less generous, profit sharing models would focus profit sharing only on senior management levels and incentivising the sales force as together they supposedly have the most influence. Maybe that’s not the best way? Maybe profit sharing should go through all levels of an organisation. Maybe a portion of your business could be offered as an employee share scheme to be generous in sharing the profits? Maybe we can think more creatively in rewarding widely or richly?
A New Testament example (Matthew 20:1-16) of this kind of generosity is the parable of the employer who hired workers for his vineyard throughout the day. He paid everybody the same at the end of the day, effectively being very generous to the people last on team. It is the discretion of the boss to be generous. This can be affronting to ‘fairness’ – verse 15 says “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
How about sharing the victory and the profits of winning more widely? How about being generous with our teams and stakeholders – making it a ‘lasting ordinance’, a legacy policy at our business? Let’s think about the characters in the story of our life and businesses and the characters who we should be generous with. Let’s consider sharing the bottom-line with the frontline, the supply-line, and those back at the clothesline.
If you have any stories or examples of good employee profit sharing or share schemes, email [email protected] and tell us about it.
Steve Clark LIFE Business Pastor LIFE