A deal breaker is a problem that tests – and snaps – the bonds of a relationship, causing it to fail.
Let me give you an example from the world of real estate business. Suppose you have been looking for a new home to purchase. You like every detail of a certain house, and decide eagerly to sign the contract. As you reach for a pen, the realtor tells you the seller has one condition, which is included in the contract before you. The seller will retain free use of the backyard by him and his extended family. In an instant, your relationship to the seller is tested. You gape in astonishment and throw down the pen. The relationship snaps. You walk out of the office. Backyard use is a deal breaker. It is the problem that tested and snapped that real estate relationship.
Moral deal breakers cause many relationships to fail. They are not limited to real estate business, of course. Moral deal breakers can destroy any type of relationship, business or personal.
A moral deal breaker occurs when right (character) is pitted against wrong in such a way that if you choose character, the relationship must end.
Example of a Moral Deal Breaker
A certain man (I’ll call him Matt) worked in the main New York City office of a large bank. Matt made it a practice to arrive at work early, and worked hard throughout the day. By closing time each evening, his desk was empty, all work completed well. There was nothing whatsoever for him to do, even if he stayed late.
Such an excellent work ethic soon caught the attention of the Vice President of Operations. He called Matt to his office, and complimented him on his excellent work. He stated his intention to groom Matt for a top position. Then he said that there was just one thing missing. He noticed that Matt always left work when the office closed instead of putting in overtime.
Matt pointed out that he never had reason for overtime, since he always finished all of his work. He came in early every morning to be sure that happened. He explained that he had two young children at home, and if he didn’t leave at closing, he could not get home before their bedtime. He would see his children only on weekends.
The vice president shook his head. Early arrival meant nothing, he said. Late hours were what counted in this business. Even if he had nothing to do, overtime would show that he cared about the success of the bank. Then the VP looked Matt in the eye and told him that he must choose between his work and his family.
That was the moral deal breaker. Matt knew that it was a father’s moral responsibility to take part daily in raising his children. He would not shirk his moral responsibility to work his way up a bank’s corporate ladder. Character (high moral values) was more important to Matt than money and career. He tendered his resignation.
Your Moral Deal Breakers
Moral deal breakers for adults involve many areas of life. Business is only one of them. Yours may come at you from another direction.
Think about these three potential moral deal breakers.
- For dating couples, the character problem that tests – and snaps – the bonds of the dating relationship may be a lack of self-control. You may have reached the point where you were ready to offer her an engagement ring when you begin to notice that she refuses to exercise power over her personal desires. From food to sex, drugs to sports, clothing to smoking, whatever craving she has must be gratified at any cost. You know that self-control is vital, and tell her that you can’t continue the relationship unless she’s willing to exercise self-control. She refuses. The problem becomes a moral deal breaker, and you stop dating her.
- For voters, the moral deal breaker can often be a lack of the Integrity Combo: integrity, honesty, truthfulness, and trustworthiness. Maybe you have listened carefully to political speeches, studying the issues, and gradually concluded that you will support a certain candidate. You sign on as a campaign volunteer, and work hard. Then you discover that much of that candidate’s platform consists of carefully calculated lies. You have opportunity to confront him about this, but he scoffs at your concerns. His lack of the Integrity Combo becomes a moral deal breaker. You withdraw your support and you vote for someone else.
- For friends, both men and women, character tests often arise over someone’s refusal to exercise compassion. Suppose you are on a committee planning a social club’s dinner party. It’s going to be a big party – an important event. You are in charge of invitations. As you run your eyes over the usual guest list, you notice that two wheelchair bound club members are not listed. You recall that you did not see them at the club’s last meeting. When you ask the committee about it, they say that no one wanted the wet blankets in a club, so they asked them to leave. You try to convince them to show compassion, but they only say that if you care so much, you can form a wheelchair club. Their lack of compassion is a moral deal breaker. You resign from the club, and make it your goal to befriend both former members.
You can add more scenarios, I’m sure. Take time to think through your own life and see what moral deal breakers you have faced.
Do conflicts between character and a lack of character always result in moral deal breakers? No. We are challenged everyday by such conflicts. We simply make our choices and go on with life, relationships intact.
However, all who work to build and exercise character will face problems, now and then, that test – and snap – the bonds of a relationship, causing it to fail. Those are moral deal breakers.