By Michael vom Ende, President faktor c

Who still understands the word “virtuous” today? Its use has long gone out of fashion. The new virtue is more something like Astrid Lindgren lets Karlsson once said It’s got to go bang, and it has to be fun, otherwise I won’t come!” In other words, it should bang “very” and “a lot”.

Much older is the quote of the Greek philosopher Democritus: “More men have become great through practice than by nature”. George Bernard Shaw stated: “It is funny how you can do nice things for people all the time, and they never notice. But once you make one mistake, it is never forgotten”. We nod in agreement. Finally, the Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal had his say with an unflattering quote about the people in the neighboring country: “The Germans are serious, they are virtuous, they work like no nation in the world, they achieve the unbelievable – but it is not a joy to live among them.”

Being virtuous therefore originally means “particularly capable” and “particularly suitable”. And being virtuous thus could be summarized by “ability, competence, effectiveness.” All three terms are important about employees and employers; such people are sought. The more virtuous, the better!

A statement about healthy self-confidence
When the monk Martin Luther translated the second part of the Bible in 1521, this word found its way into his work. The biblical context: One of the most outstanding people in the New Testament is the excellently trained, multilingual, and highly intelligent theologian Paul. He traveled through the known world – he helped many people to trust in Jesus Christ and to accept the new Christian doctrine. And he gathered these people in many places, established, and organized their local assemblies, their communities.

In the cosmopolitan port city of Corinth, Paul also established such a church. The members, however, did not appreciate the effort and engagement of their founder. Therefore, the theologian clearly writes to them regarding his effort and that of his team: “We are competent!” We are “particularly capable” and “particularly suitable”, capable, competent, and efficient.

A question about healthy self-criticism
However, such self-confidence can only remain healthy if one questions it from time to time. Where does our ability come from? Paul begins his original quote with the words: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves…”. Where do we find the source of these abilities and aptitudes? How did we acquire this competence and effectiveness? Was it through my own intellect or my education, my favorable surroundings and circumstances, or other conditions? Who or what is the true source of my success? Such questions require courage and honest self-criticism.

An indication with far-reaching consequences
The answer is surprising. Disturbing for people without Christ, exemplary for business leaders within Europartners and Christ followers: “…, but our competency comes from God.” (2 Cor. 3:5). Now it’s out – and changes everything: I am not the “author of success” with my skills, my competence and efficiency. I cannot and should not have pride about it. My achievements are a gift from God. It sounds so simple – but it is also complicated. We tend to love to shine in front of ourselves and others and cultivate our pride. That my capability is a gift from God is an indication with far-reaching consequences.


If you feel lonely or isolated as a business leader, entrepreneurs or (young) professionals, join Factor-C in Germany or Europartners  with their local ministries for the rest of Europe. If you would like to find God in loneliness and silence join one of our retreats and contact Faktor-C for Germany and Europartners for other nations or an international setting.

Copyright 2022. This blog is written by Michael vom Ende, president of faktor c, Germany. faktor c is an initiative of Christians in business.

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