Integrity in Leaders in Short Supply

via Bill Peel
October 5th, 2012

As politicos, journalists, and world leaders question each other's grasp of reality at the national and international level, the rest of us wonder who's really telling the truth. Sadly, truth-telling is becoming a slippery attribute.

Even if you're not a cable news junkie (I confess I watch more news than I should), you've got to admit it’s true: We have a problem with veracity—in boardrooms, bedrooms, halls of state and classrooms, the truth is increasingly harder to come by.

Since the fall of man, the human race has struggled with prevarication, myself included. From my earliest years, I told some whoppers—like telling second-grade classmates that my father was a Texas Ranger. When we’re caught in a lie, the pain of guilt and embarrassment serves well to teach us the importance of being honest in the life-long course of character building. At least it used to.

A study from Columbia Business School makes a jolting connection between stretching the truth and reaching the top. A posting on msnbc.com, “People in power make better liars, study shows,” summarizes the findings: Dishonesty comes more easily to those at the top. Maybe that’s why many get to the top.

Ethics experts say that the health of an organization hinges on the trustworthiness of its leaders. That goes for governments, global companies and small businesses, as well as churches and Christian organizations.

I wish the report about leaders and truth-telling didn't apply to Christians, but experience tells me otherwise. We all have a problem with the truth at times. And it hurts everyone, including the liar in the long run. Disguising truth may get you to the top faster, but the bottom can drop out at light speed. Just ask Bernie Madoff or Jeffery Skilling.

Thankfully, there’s one place where truth prevails: God’s Kingdom. We have a God with a solid grasp on reality.  And he never holds back the truth, unpleasant as may be to those of us who try to create our own reality. Whether we find ourselves in the boardroom, bedroom, or back office, let’s seek to bring this kingdom reality to our words and actions—on earth as it is in heaven.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  (Colossians 3:9-10)

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:25)  

How have you seen honest or dishonest leadership affect the workplace or church?