Integrity

Lawyer attorney in classic polish gown covering eyes with blindfold

I hate to start a piece with a bunch of disclaimers, but I think I should.

  1. This is a little off my reservation, but only a little.
  2. This article is addressed to Christian people who still believe they are or should be an influence in the culture and society. If that doesn’t describe you, there isn’t much of value for you here.
  3. This article is addressed also to those who have a growing sense of frustration that the America you thought you knew is a thing of the past.
  4. This is going to come across as very cynical, but I don’t mean for it to – I am actually very hopeful that you and I can be salt and light in this world.

Still with me?

OK.

I had an “Aha!” moment the other day.  You may have figured this out a long time ago, and maybe I’m late to the party, but hey, I was a 10-month baby. [click to continue…]

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Character word cloud

Maybe it’s because I had another birthday yesterday, or maybe it’s because that birthday was also Election Day.  Maybe it’s because I work with a school whose mission reads, in part, to “cherish character.”  But lately I’ve had character on the brain.

Character in leadership.

Character development.

Character habits.

Dr. King envisioned a day when Americans would be judged “solely by the content of their character.”  Our answer to that culturally is to try and not judge anybody at all.  That is, until the tide of public opinion breaks the dam of political correctness.  Or the electorate gets a belly full of whoever the incumbent is.  Or the arrogant, narcissistic preacher or politician or boss-person overestimates their awesomeness one time too many.

In spite of our fascination with techniques, charisma, methods, or technology, people of influence still have to deal with the Character Connection.

You have to deal with it when you look in the mirror, when nobody else is looking.

You have to deal with it when you’re on the pedestal, when everybody’s cheering.

You have to do it in the outhouse, when everybody’s jeering, or they have forgotten you.

In spite of our efforts to prove otherwise (and we’ve had some pretty spectacular efforts), character earns the politician the right to legislate and pontificate.  Character earns the right for the preacher to articulate truth. Character earns the business leader the right to profit in the marketplace of both money and ideas.

And a loss of character can undermine them all.

There are lots of ideas – good ideas – about what forms and sustains character when it comes to leadership. [click to continue…]

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Six Signs of a Life-Giving Leader

by Andy Wood on March 24, 2014

in Leadership, Life Currency

Firstborn

I didn’t know how to describe it at the time. I was only in the eighth grade, for crying out loud, and a “lost church member” at that.  But on that February day so long ago a new leader – a new pastor – showed up at my church.  And for the first time in my life a preacher held my attention throughout his message.

I didn’t know that the adults in the church had been argumentative and divisive.

I didn’t know that we had been through months of spiritual lethargy, coldness and conflict.

All I knew was that there was something completely different about this man, this preacher, who to this day I consider my pastor.  What I know now is that he was and is a life-giving leader.

Compare that to a Christmas card I received from a church a few years ago.  This church had also had a new leader come to town.  And the impact was just the opposite.  For months people on the staff of this megachurch had jumped ship at the first opportunity.  And those who remained were desperate to be the next.  I’ll never forget is the hollowed eyes and prisoner-of-war expressions on the faces of the staff and employees of this church – not just one or two, mind you, but the entire staff.  The message was clear:  Merry Christmas! Sweet Baby Jesus, get me outta here!

What I suspected then, and know now, was that this church was being led by a life-sucking leader.

Regardless of the venue – Church World, Business World, even Disney World – every person in a position of authority or leadership has a choice. You can be a life-giving leader or a life-sucking leader.  Life-giving leaders create energy, enthusiasm, passion, and loyalty.  They have a contagious way of infusing a sense of purpose, motivation, and confidence in those who follow them.

Life-sucking leaders?  Just the opposite. In their wake you’ll find dispirited, defeated, discouraged people, divided organizations, and a general spirit of fear or powerlessness.  What’s scary is that on the surface, many of these leaders and the organizations they front appear successful, at least for a season.

How can you tell the difference? How can you know to what degree you are a life-giving leader?  The best way I know is to turn to the ultimate life-giving leader – the Lord Jesus Himself.  Based on His impact and leadership, I have discovered twelve ways to recognize a life-giving leader when you see one.   Here are the first six. [click to continue…]

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Lane OneI think I’m going to do it again.

I think I’m skipping New Year’s Resolutions for something that for me and many others, has seemed to work much better. I’m referring to building my year around one simple, clear theme that reflects where my spiritual, mental and overall life wheels have been turning.

You can read more about the idea behind the idea here.

What’s interesting is that in establishing that one-word theme, you have no idea at the start where it may take you.  My one word for this past year was Lean. You can read more about it here.   This year I have learned much about leaning in, leaning on the Lord, and getting lean than I bargained for.  Some of that was a case of seeing the light; some was a case of feeling the heat.

To be clear, I didn’t always lean well this year. But I learned more, experienced more, accomplished more, and was challenged more by that level of focus on that one word than if I had made a list of New Year’s resolutions.

So.  What about now? What’s this year all about?

To get a clear idea, I knew I’d have to go to the Sanctuary – to that place where I seem to hear the Lord more clearly than anywhere else.

Time to head to the shower.

I happened to be in Athens, Georgia for my nephew’s wedding, and my hotel room just happened to have a shower readily available.  So there in the steady spray of life and spirit made possible by the Holiday Inn Express, I began to wait on the Lord and search for my Descants of the Soul.  What has been the “back beat” – the song behind the song – of my life over the most recent seasons?

If I had turned it into a dialogue between me and the Lord, it would have gone something like this: [click to continue…]

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Half Full Half EmptyWhat do you do when you’re the leader and somebody on your team drops the ball? Or worse, in their zeal for your cause, they do more harm than good?  Every leader would relish having people with the strength of a bull on their team.  We just don’t want the bulls charging into china shops.

Leadership is forged during awkward times. During periods of public strain, pain, or frustration, our attention turns to those we presume to be in leadership. On a national scale, for example, people in the United States turn to the president to help make sense of their fearful or angry moments (and we’ve had our share of those lately).

They assume that leaders have something to say.  They watch instead for what the leader actually does.  They’re not looking for place holders. They’re looking for leaders who have a sense for how to please them as they lead them.  And as leaders throughout time have discovered, there is no such thing as private or secret leadership.  Heck, even the Secret Service isn’t that secret.

In between the stories of his giant killing and his adultery dodging, an obscure little verse in the Bible describes how people responded to its beloved King David.  It’s every leader’s dream come true: [click to continue…]

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bettyCrockerOkay, time for a little famous brands trivia.

Without Googling for answers, see if you can guess how many of the following brand names were/are actual people:

Aunt Jemima

Ben and Jerry

Betty Crocker

Chef Boy-Ar-Dee

Duncan Hines

Marie Callender

Martha White

Orville Redenbacher

Sister Shubert

Uncle Ben

Answers are below: [click to continue…]

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Hidden Agenda

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret (John 18:20).

Want to lead like Jesus?

Stop hiding your agenda. [click to continue…]

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space

Interesting question came up yesterday.  If leaders are people who are influencing others to go somewhere or move in a certain direction, where should we be leading them to go?

Paul had a simple answer to that:  “Follow me as I follow Christ,” he said (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Okay, so, my answer wasn’t so spiritual. But I think it works, both for presidents and pastors, middle managers and mentors.

Where should we be leading people?

To space.

Hey, it works for Richard Branson.

Actually I use S.P.A.C.E. as an acronym for five directions we should all be pursuing.  Tell me what you think: [click to continue…]

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You can’t.

You can walk it out.  You can stand there and look humble while people tell you that you’ve got it.  You can make corrections when you stand convicted of the need for some changes.  You can use it to plead with God or The Man (whoever that is) for justice or a raise or something.  You can even dare to mention it when you run for political office.

But you are not equipped to be the architect or builder of an integrated life – yours or anybody else’s.

This is no self-improvement process, friends.  You can’t build integrity into your life by getting more information, imitating somebody else, or rigidly keeping a code of conduct. You can’t get it with an extreme makeover, a friendly takeover, or a cosmetic rake-over.

Integrity is an inside job.  It’s the result of a transformational process that takes your dis-integrated self and changes you through and through by a power that is not your own.

That said, just as an office building is designed and constructed according to a set pattern, so your Master Designer and Builder follows a blueprint for building wholeness in you.  And while you don’t have the power to do this yourself, your faith and submission to His work can help speed the process.

Each of these stages builds on the other, and I believe the order matters.  And yet, these are all lifetime pursuits that we’ll never perfectly achieve this side of heaven.  Designing and building a life of integrity involves: [click to continue…]

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(Subtitle 1:  Nine signs of an integrated life)

(Subtitle 2:  Nine things to look for in a prospective leader)

(Subtitle 3:  Why you love your representative but hate Congress)

Year in and year out, it’s the number one answer to what people want in their leaders, regardless of the arena.  It’s more important than technical competence, talent, or even being nice.  “It” is integrity.

In election years integrity is rolled out as the reason you should hire Candidate A over Candidate B.  And yet who hasn’t shuddered at the extremes to which people in the high-profile political, business or ministry realm are examined for any cracks in their moral foundation or skeletons in their closets?

Hardly a season passes where we aren’t wagging our heads at another icon of power being exposed; Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino is the latest, but hardly the last.  Soon we’ll be hearing some new cautionary tale about how someone laden with talent and brains lost their moral compass in the magnetic field of leadership power.

Hey, I get it.  Both sides of it.  I understand why integrity is so vital from a follower’s perspective, and so elusive from a leader’s perspective.  I’ve also learned the hard way how difficult it can be to restore once you’ve lost it.

But it’s important to go beyond buzzwords and stop crowing about hypocrisy.  When we’re talking about integrity, what, exactly, are we looking for?  When you are about to select a leader in the making, what evidence are you looking for that he or she is a person of integrity?  Or when your integrity has, um, “hit the ditch” (sorry, Coach), where do you start rebuilding it?

Here’s a place to start.  Here are nine signs of an integrated life. No one lives this perfectly.  But people who value integrity in their lives and leadership will be pointed in this direction: [click to continue…]

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