Your company, Custom Media, Inc. sells products and services to businesses and organizations that helps them promote their brand/image in the marketplace. You specialize in helping your clients position themselves uniquely, through placements of advertising as well as direct mail programs, and other original marketing strategies.

One of your top prospective clients, Barclay Homes, is a large home builder in your local community. They are the second largest company in their industry in your marketplace, and they are in the process of replacing the marketing firm they have been working with for years.

Barclay has the reputation of being an extremely aggressive competitor, and from what you have heard, they have been known on many occasions of “playing hardball” to win large development contracts. Barclay was started in 1984 by George Barclay, an astute 58 year old businessman with a real “cutthroat” mentality – he plays to win.

Although you have never met Mr. Barclay personally, you have heard many stories of him making decisions based solely on the bottom line – without regard to how those decisions impact employees, vendors, and even sometimes customers. Rumor has it that Mr. Barclay is often seen around town with women other than his wife (he is on his third marriage) and it is fairly common knowledge that on more than one occasion he has been intoxicated in public. But despite all that, Barclay has no doubt been successful.

For the last three years, you have wanted to have the opportunity to establish a working relationship with Barclay, but you have not been able to penetrate the account with any key relationships. You feel that if given the chance, using your unique strategies, you could help Barclay become number 1 in the marketplace, something you sense is VERY important to George Barclay.

Jack Thompson is a good friend of yours from church. You have known each other for nearly ten years.

After church one Sunday, Jack approaches you with some very exciting news. Just a few weeks ago, he became the Vice President of Marketing for Barclay Homes. It is his responsibility to work with companies like yours to effectively position Barclay Homes in the marketplace. He invites you to come visit Barclay’s office the following week, and indicates he would like to introduce you to some of the key players at Barclay.

Just a few days later, you complete your visit to the Barclay office, which included a brief personal introduction and handshake of George Barclay himself.

At the end of your tour, Jack invites you to put together a proposal on some ideas you might have to help Barclay’s positioning in the marketplace.

A few days after submitting your proposal, you get a phone call from Jack who tells you Mr. Barclay was very impressed with your ideas, and that he wants to meet with you to discuss things in person.

Jack goes on to say the following, “Before you meet with him, there is something very important you need to understand about Mr. Barclay. I have come to learn that for whatever reason he has a very strong dislike of Christians. He has indicated to me on several occasions that he feels like Christians are ‘weak’ people who need a crutch (God) because they cannot get through life on their own. He feels that Christians are phony and not to be trusted. He feels like anyone who would follow a god they cannot see and touch is foolish and not worth dealing with. Furthermore, Mr. Barclay makes it a point to at times be obnoxious with Christians to see if he can get them ‘squirming’ a bit. I just wanted you to know that in advance.”

You tell Jack how much you appreciate him setting up this meeting, as well as the “heads up” regarding Mr. Barclay and his opinion of Christians.

As you prepare for your meeting with Mr. Barclay, you decide it would be a good idea to go to God’s Word for some guidance in preparation for your time with him.

Two important things come to mind as you prepare for your meeting with him:
1. You have witnessed to other less well-known individuals in the past and were not overly concerned with how they might be offended – you cared more about their soul than anything else, and
2. You have turned down doing business before because you refused to help certain companies further their image because you did not approve of the way they do business.

The day is here – and you prayerfully prepare for your lunch meeting with George Barclay.  Mr. Barclay shows up right on time, and the two of you order lunch.

George tells you right away how much he liked your ideas about positioning his business in the marketplace. He indicates he is very interested in pursuing some of your ideas and would like to receive a formal quote for the entire program.

As the business portion of your lunch winds down, Mr. Barclay asks you a question – he wants to know how you and Jack Thompson know each other and for how long?

Keeping in mind the “warning” that you have received about Mr. Barclay’s opinion of Christians – how would you answer the question George just asked? Remember how you answer George’s question may impact your future opportunity to do business.

As the lunch progresses over the next hour, Barclay opens up to you on a personal level. Maybe it was his third martini talking, or perhaps indigestion, or for some other unknown reason – whatever the case he begins to share some very personal things with you.

He shares with you the difficulty of his childhood, including growing up in a home where his father was abusive due to a drinking problem. The sadness in his voice is very apparent as he admits to not remembering a single occasion where his father had told him he loved him. He describes his teen years of a time where he experimented with drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex, a pattern he admits to never having broken. He tells you of the mistakes he has made in his marriages. He admits to his history of infidelity and living a life out of control. He tells you there are many things in his life he regrets, including several broken relationships with family, most notably the fact that he is estranged from his oldest child, a daughter who now has two children of her own – grandchildren he only gets to visit with briefly each Christmas.

Mr. Barclay talks for nearly 30 minutes, and you find yourself actually attracted to his degree of vulnerability and transparency.

He tells you that in spite of the overwhelming business success he has enjoyed, he would trade it all in to restore the broken relationships in his life.

He admits to you he is not sure why he is telling all these personal things, but that for some reason he just felt like you were a safe person to talk to.

He asks you to excuse him as he needs to use the restroom, but as he raises up from the table, he says he would like to hear from you how you think his problems could be addressed.

As Mr. Barclay is headed away from the table, you find yourself breaking out into a cold sweat- in disbelief as to what is happening – George Barclay has just shared very deep personal issues with you, and he is asking you for personal advice.

You ask the Lord to give you the words to share with George, in a way that he will accept.

Barclay comes back to the table, his face a little red, with a slight look of anger in his eyes.

He tells you he is very interested in hearing what you have to say about his situation, but while in the restroom he found a booklet on the sink that on the outside read “If you were die tonight-would you go to heaven or hell?” He says “those Jesus people are just so arrogant-thinking they have all the answers. They make me so angry. Now tell me your thoughts regarding my life. What should I do?”

Discussion Questions:

  • 1Has anything like this ever happened to you in business? Share the story.
  • 2What are possible reasons George Barclay would have such an opinion of Christians?
  • 3What would you say to Mr. Barclay at this point in the conversation? What questions would you have for him?
  • 4Would you risk losing the long-term business opportunity by sharing your faith with him at the table?
  • 5Would you “bite your tongue” and not address Mr. Barclay’s question from a Christian perspective?
  • 6What Bible verses can you cite to address this situation?
  • 7What other thoughts, perspectives, insights, opinions do you have on this case study?

Join the conversation at Truth at Work.

Ray Hilbert

Ray is the Co-Founder of Truth At Work. Prior to this role, he served as CEO until January 2016. In his role of Co-Founder, Ray is responsible for building high level strategic relationships on behalf of Truth At Work, facilitates several Round Table Groups, helps establish new markets, develops new curriculum, as well as serving as host of Truth At Work’s “Bottom Line Faith” podcast series. Additionally, Ray is in the process of writing two new books that will be released in the coming months.

Ray is also a highly sought after speaker at churches and retreats across America, where for years he has challenged followers of Christ to integrate their faith in and through the marketplace on a daily basis.He is also part of the speaking faculty for Orlando, Florida based “Man In the Mirror” ministry where he conducts seminars and retreats across the country.

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