Reflections

Power of Integrity

There’s been a lot of talk these past few days about the moral improprieties of Anthony Weiner, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Time magazine’s May 30th cover story was ‘Sex. Lies. Arrogance. What Makes Powerful Men Act Like Pigs.’

I am not shocked by these immoral acts. And that is what they are. Immoral. What shocks me is the trivial way we as a society excuse this behavior. Everything from ‘the pressure of their position’ to ‘private life is no business to the public’ have been offered as rationale.

What we fail to remember (or try hard to suppress) is that all leadership is built on moral authority and this type of authority is forged over a lifetime and rests solely on our character. The pressures of life or public office don’t erode our character, they reveal our character. Private life is very pertinent to public leadership. And so when pundits excuse behavior they are not helping anyone but rather continuing to encourage moral decadence because what is at stake is the value of character. People fail because of a lack of character. We lack character because we don’t value character. When a person’s character is low, so are their standards.

Now, I realize we don’t like to talk like this for fear of being judged as a Self-Righteous Puritan. But the longer I live the more I realize we excuse others behavior because we’re afraid of what might be found in our closet if people started looking.  The only remedy for this is a life built upon good character and a life of good character creates a life of integrity and a life of integrity allows us to experience a sense of deep inner peace – knowing that even under the strictest observation, I will be proven innocent of wrong.

All that the past few weeks have revealed is the truth of the Bible. Proverbs 10:9 says “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” Integrity built on character prohibits us from violating our own moral compass. My father always asked me: ‘who are you when no one is looking?’ This would be a good question for everyone to honestly answer.   Ecclesiastes 7:1, in the Message translation of the Bible says: “A good reputation is better than a fat bank account. Your death date tells more than your birth date.” Integrity built on a lifetime of good character builds a solid reputation and this reputation transcends the shifting, elusive image to which our culture is addicted.

The Power of Integrity is the power of moral authority which stems from a clean conscience and a good reputation built upon good character. My prayer is that more of us will use these latest incidents, not as a justification to attack our leaders or government, but as a mirror to hold up to our own lives and ask: ‘if the spotlight of public scrutiny were focused upon me, would I be able to stand confident in my innocence?’  Because when everything around us is screaming that nothing is forbidden, that everything is excusable, we need men and women who will resolve to remain true to God’s standards for ourselves, our families, and our country.

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