Critique of Jesus Through the Eyes of Chester Barnard

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Christian world-view and the ideas about morality were strong. It was impossible to ignore the norms of the Gospel in the public life, and such unambiguity was one of the main issues in the regulation of human relationships. It is possible to state that the words of the Bible are not popular in the contemporary American society, despite the fact that it still can be called traditionally Christian.

Chester Barnard is one of those people who succeeded in combining true professionalism in managing experience with ethical integrity, which makes his views upon business organization unique. However, the attention to the possible practical application of the Christian faith in general and the personality of Jesus in particular in the public administration experience is still relevant. DeHaven-Smith in the article What Jesus says to public administration investigates into the importance of application of the example of Jesus in the experience of public organization. It is possible to assume that the current work of DeHaven-Smith coincides with the ideas of Chester Barnard, and continues the tradition of the Christianity centered public administration.

DeHaven-Smith’s choice of the theme for discussion is reasonable from the point of view of Barnard. Paying attention to the problem of building stable and ethical relations between people in the organization is one of the key points that form an efficient and long-lived company. Barnard assumes that the majority of the organizations did not manage to survive for centuries due to lack of integrity, and the Roman Catholic Church can be called the only exception. It managed to motivate millions of people, satisfy their desires and motives, and accomplished its set aims. Throughout history Christianity was the leading power that united people in the face of difficulties.

The structure of the article is logical. The first part of DeHaven-Smith’s article is devoted to the historical description of the Christian faith, and the attempts of the Western civilization to live without the example of Jesus. He writes that the weakness of the contemporary industrial empires can be explained by the absence of the ethical example of Jesus and his teachings. Lack of moral constraints increases the rate of tyranny within the organization, and devaluation of the human life and dignity (DeHaven-Smith, 2003, p. 90).

Barnard payed precise attention to the functions of the executives, and this issue is covered in details in the article of DeHaven-Smith. Barnard considered the presence of a stable system of communication between the members of the organization one of the main things an efficient executive needs to do. DeHaven-Smith gives an example from the life of Jesus that supports this claim. He writes that there was a set code that Jesus and his disciples used to communicate with each other. The other people did not understand them, because they did not have ears to hear, as it is written in the Bible (DeHaven-Smith, 2003, p. 98). For example, only the Jews were able to understand the codes, while the Romans were not acquainted with the double meaning the phrases could have. The participation in the community, that shared one secret code, made people feel their importance in the organization, which also coincides with the ideas of Barnard.

The article of DeHaven-Smith provides examples that support the views of Barnard upon the incentives. For example, Barnard emphasizes the importance of adaptation of work to the attitudes and methods the employees are used to. Jesus preached in the similar way. In fact, he had two different teachings. He preached about fighting with glory and power to his disciples, but to the other people, who wanted to hear him, he preached in simple parables about after life reward, kingdom of heaven, and love to the others (DeHaven-Smith, 2003, p. 99).

The emphasis on the participation of every person in the organization in the events is also mentioned both in the work of DeHaven-Smith and Barnard. Such opportunity to become friends with the other members is essential in building a long lasting organization. For example, when the day of the arrest came, Jesus asked his disciples to help him. John, James and Peter watched over him, and Peter was also guarding their security, because he was armed (DeHaven-Smith, 2003, p. 99).

Another similar issue in the views of the two authors is their emphasis on the comparative attractiveness of the organization. Jesus preached about the kingdom of heaven to come, and people wanted to believe him. Their lives were difficult, and the hope for the better life even after death gave them inner powers to continue living. The words of Jesus gave them hope that there will be no rulers and no servants, the justice will be merciful, and the only thing they have to do is to live according to the commandments (DeHaven-Smith, 2003, p. 104).

Perhaps, not many modern organizations can give its members clear ideas about their goals and the ways to reach them. Such uncertainty results in the not lasting relations between the members of the organizations, and in the short terms of their life. Barnard claimed that the Christian Church sets the best example of efficient public administration. DeHaven-Smith develops this idea with the examples from the life of Jesus. It is possible to claim that from Barnard’s point of view, the article of DeHaven-Smith has a considered organization and content, that is illustrated by relevant Biblical examples.



DeHaven-Smith, L. (2003). What Jesus says to public administration. International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior, 6 (1), 90 – 118.

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