This dollar bill was handed to me as change the other day. Stamped across Timothy Geithner’s name are the red words TAX CHEAT. It’s a reference to the fact that “investigators discovered that Geithner owed $35,000 in back taxes from unpaid social security taxes, which he repaid only after he learned that he was to be nominated. At the time, his critics questioned whether someone with this record of tax avoidance should oversee the Internal Revenue Service.” (Forbes 1/17/13) Clearly someone was making not only a political statement, but a statement about integrity.
It’s no wonder that Americans are losing confidence in their government. USA Today recently reported that more than half see government as a threat to their freedom. Consider the recent list of government representatives doing one thing but saying another:
The new normal is to expect hypocrisy and a lack of integrity in our elected leaders. That’s really sad. Join me in a call to honor and value integrity in our elected leaders. Make INTEGRITY your new political battle cry.
Integrity is the quality people most want to see in a leader – someone who walks the talk.. The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy. When we make poor choices at integrity forks in the road, the word hypocrite becomes a clanging bell in our mind and soul. Hypocrisy is one of six perceptions of the church today by the secular world (Barna Research: UnChristian) because we have often failed to walk our talk. In Matthew Jesus scolded the Pharisees for saying one thing and doing another. They were the leaders of the Jewish people, and yet eight times in this one chapter Jesus says, Woe to you, hypocrites…and then points out to them their two faced behavior as leaders. The Pharisees weren’t living up to the level of integrity that Jesus expected of them as leaders. We call them ‘character gaps’ in our leadership – when we behave in ways that do not make Jesus proud. It’s clear that a hypocrite is unqualified to lead others – to higher character or to success.
Before we point a finger at the Pharisees, we need to look in the mirror as leaders. When we claim to be a follower of Jesus, we make a statement that we will have integrity by leading like Jesus. We will balance grace and truth by holding others accountable, we will serve rather than be served, and we will have “ an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15) We will exhibit His Heart, His Hands, His Head and His Habits. And we will constantly look for hypocrisy in our words and actions, ask for forgiveness, and look to Jesus as our leadership role model. A person of integrtiy isn’t perfect, but that person can be depended on to make amends when he or she has lacked integrity in their words and actions.
In what areas of your life are you saying one thing and doing another?
*originally written for and posted on www.LeadLikeJesus.com/blog
Last year I was in Dallas, TX at a Christian speaking event. The speaker made his points, but throughout the speech, he used his wife as the brunt of jokes in order to add humor to his speech. A couple of days after the speech, he called me, asking for feedback. I honestly told him that for a Christ follower speaking at a Christian event I had been disappointed that he had failed to honor and cherish his wife. He was taken aback and asked for examples, which I gave him. He called me back two days later and promised to never use his wife that way again. I hope he had the integrity to do what he said he would do.
While I don’t like anyone using their spouse as a source of humor, I have a higher standard for Christ followers. In Ephesians, Paul challenged men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. So I find it sad to hear jokes made about marriage that taint the beauty of it. When we do that, we aren’t practicing what we preach. That’s one of the reasons we are called hypocrites.
The unique fact about Jesus is that without any exception he practiced what He preached. He served others, he healed, he encouraged – and he held people accountable for their actions that came from pride and arrogance. He even called some hypocrites! He challenged us to serve – “the first will be last and the last will be first”. Servant leadership is practicing what we preach – and it starts at home.
How are you loving and honoring your spouse today?