#261: Can You Separate Private Integrity from Public Actions?

We need to apply the concept of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, to leaders and followers. In this case, let the follower beware.

Integrity

It seems like every week I hear about some leader whose moral lapses have resulted in detrimental public actions. But for some reason, the public, that’s you and me, excuse their actions.

For example, back in 1992 when Bill Clinton was running for president, the scandal about his marital infidelities surfaced. Bill and Hillary went on national TV denying the affairs.

I told my wife if he will lie about his marriage he will lie about anything.

People didn’t seem to care about his affairs; they elected him president.

Fast forward six years to when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. Bill and Hillary denied again until of course, the blue dress with proof came to light. Oddly enough, despite proof of his lies, Clinton’s popularity actually rose according to a Gallup poll.

Gallup postulated the most likely explanation for people dismissing Clinton’s behavior is the economy was doing well, individuals expressed confidence in the future, and the president’s moral lapses didn’t affect them personally. So, who cares?!

Lapses in Integrity Go Public

The same kind of moral lapses occurred back in Biblical times.

Remember David? He had an affair with Bathsheba, and she got pregnant. David ordered her husband, Uriah, deployed in a battle where their enemies killed him. David didn’t repent until confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12).

Solomon, David’s son, didn’t fare much better. Solomon took numerous wives from foreign nations and eventually started worshipping their gods (1 Kings 11). He even built worship sites and made sacrifices on altars to these gods.

God warned Solomon to repent, but Solomon continued to walk away from God. Eventually, God raised up enemies against Solomon. Internal strife resulted in the nation of Israel being divided and ultimately conquered.

Solomon should have taken his own advice. He warned, The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).

Private issues of integrity tend to have public consequences.

Who Are You When No One is Looking?

Clinton thought what he did in private didn’t matter. So, did David. So, did Solomon. And so, did so many other leaders whose lapses in integrity destroyed their reputation and legacy.

Moses warned the Israelites if they failed to do as instructed in obeying God, “you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Private sin has a way of coming to public light.

So, leaders, we need to be mindful of the fact that we are, as Paul told the Corinthians, “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). That means our integrity, our character, reflects on Christ. If we are to be a light to the world, we must be known by our Godly character (Matthew 5:14-16).

And followers, we need to hold our leaders to a higher standard. I’m not saying only perfect men and women are suited for leadership. I know everyone has fallen short. But why do we continue to turn a blind eye to leaders with obvious ongoing moral lapses and issues of integrity?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked for or with someone whose private moral lapses or issues of integrity had public repercussions? How were you or the organization affected?

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Category: Personal Development | Integrity

#260: What Qualities Should a Godly Leader Have?

And What Qualities Should They Rid Themselves of?!

Godly leaders live at the intersection of faith and practice. On one side of the street is our faith. We desire to be men and women whose faith reflects our transformation into Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Qualities Leader

On the other side of the street is the real world where we live out our lives. Here is the dirty, gritty, and oftentimes difficult task of being Christlike in a fallen world, surrounded by unbelievers.

We want to be good. We want to be Christlike. But then the real world raises its ugly head testing our resolve with attacks on our principles, our faith, and even on God Himself.

Every Christian lives at this intersection of faith and practice.

Christian leaders must be prepared to withstand the assault of the world, or their leadership will falter.

The Apostle Peter gave some excellent advice to young believers that every Christian leader should take to heart. His advice consisted of qualities important for the Christian and came in two forms. First, he told them what to do to clean up their lives. Then, he gave them direction for how to live out their lives in a way that would bring honor to God.

Clean Up Our Lives

Peter instructed believers to clean up their lives by getting rid of certain qualities.  In 1 Peter 2:1, Peter said they should “…rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.”

  • Malice. Wicked ill-will toward others.
  • Deceit. Deliberate dishonesty or concealment of the truth.
  • Hypocrisy. Claiming moral standards not evident in your own behavior.
  • Envy. Resentful discontentment toward someone else’s qualities, property, or possessions.
  • Slander. False statements, lies, damaging to a person’s reputation.

As leaders, the greatest damage to our testimony among non-believers is our inability to live out our lives in a Christlike fashion. We hypocritically claim a moral standard while bearing malice, being deceitful, envious, or even slandering others.

We need to put our own house in order first. Only then will our testimony to non-believers bring glory to God.

Once he addressed the negative aspects of our behavior, Peter addressed how to live our lives, so our example will be a positive one.

Live Out Our Faith

Peter continued urging the young believers to live holy lives among the non-believers wherever they live and do good works so others will see their example and be drawn to God (1 Peter 2:11-17).

Peter provided four specific instructions:

  • Avoid the fleshly desires that war against you (v. 11). This is more than the lustful desires. It includes all the sinful desires of the world.
  • Conduct yourselves honorably (v. 12). Not just with believers, but with non-believers, so despite their slanderous accusations against you, everyone will see that Christians are honorable.
  • Submit to human authority; obey the law (vv. 13-14). God ordained government, so Christians should obey man’s laws as long as they do not violate God’s law (Acts 4:19).
  • Show proper respect to everyone (v. 17). This includes loving the brotherhood of believers, fearing God, and honoring the king.

Peter’s instructions came at a time when Christians were living as strangers in a world that was hostile to the Gospel. Christians were slandered, falsely accused, and in many cases, suffered intense persecution.

In light of this adversarial environment, Peter’s instruction was for Christians to live their lives in a way that made them stand out from the world of non-believers. Through their good deeds, people would ultimately glorify God.

Leaders, it is said that the only view of God most non-believers see is that of Christians. Let’s make sure that what we reflect to the world in our lives is behavior that brings glory to God. In so doing we will fulfill Matthew 5:16, which says, “…let your light shine before men, so that they [non-believers] may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of Peter’s instructions for leading a good Christian life do you think is most difficult?

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Category: Personal Development | Leader Qualifications

 

 

#259: Two Obscure Women Whose Courage Saved a Nation

Leadership Lessons from The Lesser Known

Whenever I see a list of important women in the Bible these two women’s names are never listed. Their near anonymity is not surprising since their names are listed only once in the Bible, and their entire story takes up only six verses in Exodus (Exodus 1:15-20).

Women Courage

But the nation of Israel owes them a great debt.

Israelites in Egypt

Back when the Israelites were in Egypt they enjoyed relative prosperity while Joseph was alive. But after Joseph died, a new Pharaoh came along who didn’t know Joseph, and he was intimidated by the size of the Israelite community.

To solve the problem of the growing Israelite population, Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites committing them to hard labor. But their population continued to swell.

Frustrated by his failed attempt to control the Israelite population, Pharaoh called in the two head Israelite midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. He ordered them to kill the Hebrew baby boys as they were born (Exodus 1:16).

But Shiphrah and Puah feared God and did not do what Pharaoh had ordered them to do (Exodus 1:17).

Shiphrah and Puah were probably not the only two midwives serving the entire Israelite nation. I think they were the leaders of the midwives’ union and used their influence to convince the other midwives to go along with their plan to disobey Pharaoh and allow the Hebrew boys to live.

When Pharaoh called Shiphrah and Puah in to explain why the Hebrew boys were allowed to live they explained that the Hebrew women gave birth before the midwives could arrive (Exodus 1:19).

God approved of the action of Shiphrah and Puah. He caused the Israelite population to grow even more, and because Shiphrah and Puah feared God, He gave them families of their own (Exodus 1:20-21).

Courage and Conviction

Shiphrah and Puah feared God more than Pharaoh. As a result, they had the courage and conviction to do what was right no matter the cost.

They understood that in this specific case, God’s law superseded man’s law. They knew that killing innocent Hebrew babies was a sin against God. Pharaoh could have easily ordered their execution, but Shiphrah and Puah preferred to be right with God.

Peter encountered a similar situation when the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin and accused of violating the order not to preach about Jesus. Peter and the other apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Peter and the apostles also displayed courage and conviction in refusing to obey man’s law when it violated God’s law.

Must We Obey Man’s Law Regardless?

Paul, writing to the Romans, said: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1).

So, as Christians, are we to submit to authority, as Paul directed, or are we to observe the example of Shiphrah, Puah, Peter, and the Apostles?

The answer, it seems, is to submit to man’s law as long as it does not conflict with God’s law.

Killing innocent babies is a sin against God. Regardless of what Pharaoh commanded, it was wrong. So, Shiphrah and Puah defied man’s law to be obedient to God’s law.

Christian leaders, we need to be guided in our actions by the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled with courage and conviction and follow the example of two obscure Hebrew midwives to obey God no matter the cost.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you encountered situations when you had to decide between following man’s law or God’s law? Do you think Christians should follow man’s law even if it conflicts with God’s law?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Courage/Risk-Taking