The Four Way Test

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One of the dangers we encounter in life is WE REMEMBER HOW AND FORGET WHY. We stop doing things from passion and start doing things from predictability. It moves us from DELIGHT to DUTY.

Studies show that after you sing a song 13 times, you no longer do it from the heart, but you’re merely lip-syncing words. There is little to no connection from mind to heart. That impacts singing each week-end when we are led by gifted musicians to worship our God.

The things you say to your spouse or children, removed from the heart or any context, can simply become mindless words that no longer have any meaning behind them. We remember how and forget why.

So how does that apply to us? I was involved in one of the largest service organizations in the world for almost 20 years. One of the ways we chose to best to make daily decisions was called The Four Way Test.

In the midst of the Great Depression, a businessman named of Herbert J. Taylor, devised a simple, four-part ethical guideline that helped rescue his beleaguered business. The statement and the principles it embodied also helped many others find their own ethical compass. I primarily get my direction from Scripture, but this can become a simple way to apply Scripture throughout the day.

Taylor was a mover, a consummate salesman and a great leader. He was a man of action, faith, and high moral principle. He grew up in Michigan, worked his way through Northwestern University and upon graduation went to France on a mission for the YMCA. Upon his return, he began to work for the Jewel Tea Company.

In line for the presidency of the Jewel Company, now known as Jewel Foods, the largest of the grocery chains in Chicago, he was asked to revive the near bankrupt Club Aluminum Company of Chicago. He resigned from Jewel, taking an 80% pay cut, and invested over $6,000 of his own money, to help jump start the company, which was near $400,000 in the hole.

Looking for a way to help lift people out of the doldrums, he devised a short measuring stick of ethics for the staff to use.

The people quickly adopted the rule, four simple searching questions that comprise the test to this day.

Is it the truth?

Is it fair to all concerned?

Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Profound in its simplicity, and simple in its execution, the framework would be put to the test in his personal life and the life of his company.

For example, one day, the sales managers announced a possible order for 50,000 utensils. Sales were low, and the company was still struggling at the bankruptcy level. The senior managers needed the sale, but they found out that the potential customer intended to sell the products at cut rate prices.

The decision was made that it would not be fair to their loyal customers who had been advertising and promoting their products consistently. In one of the toughest decisions that company would make, the order was turned down. There was no question the transaction would have made a mockery of The Four Way Test.

Is it the TRUTH?

Many things in life are seldom good vs. bad, but mostly good vs. best. The good is always the enemy of the best.

Develop a set of values that will stand the test of time. Use the Scriptures and align your life with the truth of the Bible.

Is it FAIR to all concerned?

Life is not fair. So, we have to work hard at overcoming stereotypes, prejudices, systems, and opinions that tend to institutionalize unfairness. When you see something unfair happening to another person, do you ever sense that God may be leading you to be involved?

Will it build GOODWILL and better FRIENDSHIPS?

Scripture says in Proverbs 17:17 that “a friend loves at all times.” Relationships are the crucible of life. The Lord has people in your life for a reason or for a season. Take each friendship as an opportunity to be a blessing in the life of that person. Ask yourself, what can I do for others? Stepping out of your comfort zone will open a cavalcade of new friends in your life.

Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Nearly 870 million people suffer from hunger each day.
98% of people suffering from hunger live in developing, under-resourced countries.
Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Hunger causes the deaths of about 5 million children each year.
17 million children are born underweight annually, the result of inadequate nutrition during pregnancy.

Can you find ways to encourage the least and the last around you? That could be in the greater Pittsburgh area, or go through the open door the Lord has given to us in Haiti.

Ask yourself each day, as you seek to live out Biblical values...

Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build good will and better friendships?
Will it beneficial to all concerned?


Rick joined the Orchard Hill staff in 2015 and serves as The Life Stage Pastor and Director of Ministries, providing broad oversight to the ministries and operations of Orchard Hill.

Prior to becoming part of the staff team, Rick was the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Valley Church in Winona, Minnesota. He served as an English Pastor at Grace Church in Wheeling, Illinois, directing the student and young adult ministries at this Korean-American Church. Previously, he was a College Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in West Chicago, Illinois. Rick has been very active in overseas mission work in Romania and England. He earned a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Rick was born in Cuba and loves to cook and eat! Rick, his wife Nancy, and his son Brennan live in Adams Township.