The John Edwards trial has produced some interesting testimony, none more so than Andrew Young, the ex-aide who said the lure of power caused him to claim he was the father of Edward’s baby with his mistress. “Being friends with the most powerful person on earth – there are benefits to that”. Pride and power are seductive. They are beasts you think you can ride, but they suddenly turn devour you. Young made a choice to lie, to assist in a cover up – all in the hopes of gaining influence and power from a man who might be President.
If he had stopped in the moment and asked the question – what are the consequences of this choice? – he might not have agreed to the cover up. A well played game of “what if” can keep you from succumbing to the lure of lust, greed, or power. Just imagine what would happen if you got caught. What would you have to say to your family? What would the headline in tomorrow’s paper be? Had Andrew Young played ‘what if’ when he was asked to play a part in the cover up , he might have imagined the headline “Edwards Ex-Aide Says Power was Motivation.” Write the headline that might appear if your choice to purse power got the better of you. What would happen to your family, your business, and your friendships? Would you be in prison? Financially ruined? A well-thought through session of “what if” can make real the potential consequences of falling prey to a lack of integrity.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Even more thought provoking, the Bible says: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) That came true for both John Edwards and Andrew Young.
Power, character, and integrity are a rare combination. Which ones can you claim?