Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Calculating When to Redeem

If you are a believer in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, you’ve got to read this!
In a research study published in January 2010, the Society for Human Resources Management conducted a survey of 433 randomly selected HR professionals from SHRM’s membership to determine the extent of background checks conducted on potential applicants (SHRM, 2010). 73% of the organizations surveyed conducted criminal background checks on all job candidates (SHRM, 2010). Blumstein and Nakamura (2009) draw from the same data tables in the SHRM reports and, including businesses that always or sometimes conduct criminal background checks, determine that this percentage is over 80% (Blumstein and Nakamura, 2009).

The significance of these background checks have a variable influence on the decision to hire. According to the survey, the confirmation of convictions can have a very influential impact on whether to extend a job offer to the candidate (SHRM, 2010). According to Blumstein and Nakamura (2009), whether an applicant states up front that they have committed a crime, or the employer determines this through a criminal background check, there is a likelihood that the applicant will not get the job, because many employers are unwilling to hire ex-offenders (Blumstein and Nakamura, 2009). These researchers go on to suggest that “most people would probably agree” (Blumstein and Nakamura, 2009) that at some point in time ex-offenders who have not continued criminal activity should not be handicapped by their criminal record when seeking employment (Blumstein and Nakamura, 2009).

This new research funded by the National Institute of Justice seeks to empirically determine whether employers and should be concerned about past criminal offenses when hiring a new employee. Blumstein and Nakamura have gone beyond what they determine is an employer choosing arbitrary expiration dates for the revocation of prior criminal records, and they have developed an actuarial model for determining when ex-offender has for employment purposes been clean long enough to be considered “redeemed” – their term (Blumstein and Nakamura, 2009).

How interesting that in this criminal justice context there are efforts to determine whether persons committing past offenses can be considered “redeemed” for employment purposes and given a second chance to start fresh. Previous research conducted among managers with a faith background sought to determine the influence of a Christian worldview on their decision-making in the workplace (Bucci and Bruce, 2008). This research found that just because a manager’s faith guided their decision-making, it did not necessarily mean that a faith-based manager felt any more compelled to offer second chance opportunities to ex-offenders, or former drug addicts or even employees whom they had previously terminated (Bucci and Bruce, 2008).

I rejoice that secular research is confirming kingdom principles. If there is a Kingdom of God, and as Jesus told us we should “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33a) then these principles are universal and unchangeable, and they should be evident to all, even those who are not followers of Christ. Yet it is critical for those of us who ascribe to this dynamic faith perspective not to be abrasive but to take a different approach in seeking to operationalize our values (Damhorst, 2011). In the words of Gabe Lyon (from his book, The Next Christians), Christians can sow seeds of restoration (Damhorst, 2011), not criticizing culture but instead creating culture that can inspire change.

My research conducted in organizations not qualifying as distinctively Christian has shown that there is a value proposition the application of kingdom of God principles such as the restoring an individual created in the image of God to a position of fulfilling their calling, in supporting an organization’s mission, to economic contribution and to providing for their own and their family’s needs (Plantinga, 2002). There is evidence in this research to suggest that it is viable for a manager to consider a leadership intervention based on the mission of Christ Himself, “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:13, NASB).

* Background Checking: General Background Checks SHRM Poll. (2010, January 22). SHRM Online – Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved January 19, 2012, from
* Blumstein, A., & Nakamura, K. (n.d.). ‘Redemption’ in an Era of Widespread Criminal Background Checks | National Institute of Justice. National Institute of Justice: Criminal Justice Research, Development and Evaluation. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from
* Bucci, J. J. (2011). Evidence of redemptive manager behaviors in successfully reinstating terminated workers (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Anderson University.
* Bucci, J. J., & Bruce, M. L. (2008). Faith influenced managers and terminal worker behavior. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Christian Business Faculty Association, Indianapolis, IN.
* Burke, M. E. (2005). 2004 Reference and background checking survey report (Rep.). Alexandria, VA: Society of Human Resources Management.
* Burke, M. E., & Schramm, J. (2005). Staffing research: Getting to know the candidates (pp. 1-12, Rep.). Alexandria, VA: Society of Human Resources Management.
* Damhorst, G. (2011, December 22). 5 Types of Christians: Restorers (Part 6 of 6). Faith Line Protestants | Living Christian in a Religiously Diverse World. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from
* Research on Reentry and Employment | National Institute of Justice. (n.d.). National Institute of Justice: Criminal Justice Research, Development and Evaluation. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from

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