Integrity + Accountability = Longevity (avoiding a slow fade)
by Major Lydia Pearson, USA Eastern Territory
It's a slow fade when you give yourself away,
It's a slow fade when black and white turn to grey,
Thoughts invade, choices made, a price to be paid
When you give yourself away.
People never crumble in a day.
It's a slow fade.
- Casting Crowns
These words have made a huge impression on me. Perhaps they remind me of character that is daily challenged, or maybe the fall of a leader. For whatever reason, God is using this song to keep me on his path. We don't need to look far to find leaders who started strong in Christianity, but their faith altogether slowly faded. Sometimes I think that leaders who keep their faith and finish well are the exceptions rather than the norm.
Major Lydia Pearson
USA Eastern Territory
So how does a leader avoid a slow fade? For me, this formula is the key: integrity + accountability = longevity.
What is meant by 'integrity'? Dictionaries define integrity as 'uncompromising adherence to moral principle, or honesty'. In a compromise-filled world, the ideal of uncompromising adherence is foreign. Honesty is hard to find, even in the Church. Yet on the other side of the spectrum, I've had many people tell me that I'm too honest.
How can a person be too honest? You're either honest or you're not. There are no degrees of honesty. The songwriter says, 'It's a slow fade when black and white turn to grey.' It's easy to rationalise behaviour and justify wrong.
What is accountability? Dictionaries define it as 'the requirement of justifying something; or being answerable to someone'. Eventually I'm going to have to explain my actions to someone else. When a life is defined by the motto 'if it feels good, do it', 'look out for number one' or 'it's all about me', being accountable seems impractical. To keep from slowly fading we must remain accountable to God and others.
The life of Joseph is a perfect illustration of integrity and accountability. Joseph could easily have done wrong and rationalised his actions. After being put in charge of Potiphar's house, 'his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, Come to bed with me! But he refused and though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her' (Genesis 39:7-8, 10 NIV).
Some might think Joseph was strange because he didn't give in to worldly standards. Yet, Joseph was respected by Potiphar. Potiphar had entrusted him with everything except for his wife. Joseph responds, 'How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' (Genesis 39:9 NIV).
Much of society does not recognise these concepts: 'a wicked thing' and 'a sin against God'. Because Joseph considered sleeping with his boss's wife 'wicked' speaks to his integrity. I consider this a black and white issue the moral issue is undebatable. When Potiphar's wife 'caught him by his cloak and said, Come to bed with me!, he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house' (Genesis 39:12 NIV). He showed uncompromising adherence to a moral principle. Joseph had integrity.
Joseph acknowledges that if he had submitted to Potiphar's wife, he would have sinned against God. He was accountable to someone beyond his immediate supervisor. Doing what was pleasing to God dominated his thinking.
What was the result of Joseph's integrity and accountability? Instead of a slow fade, Joseph experienced a slow glow as God raised him to second-in-command of Egypt. How do we keep from slowly fading as leaders? Integrity + accountability = longevity.