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