In our series on leadership attributes, we now look at character. British Pastor Charles Spurgeon said that a godly character is the best tombstone. But what exactly is character, or more specifically good character? It may be one of those attributes that are hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.
Many years ago, one of my supervisors and I were interviewing candidates for an entry level position in our organization. The individual selected for the position would be working on the second or third shift, essentially unsupervised. A person of good character was critical in this position. One of our interview questions was “What does character mean? What does it mean to say that someone has good character”? Although each candidate tried, we never did get a satisfactory answer to our questions about character. We then told the interviewees that a definition that we had heard that we liked was:
Character is doing the right thing when nobody is watching
A dictionary definition that may come closest to what I am talking about here is “moral excellence”. Continue reading →
When we look to do business with an organization, we look to work with people in that organization that have both competency and character. First, we need people who know their jobs, and have the skills and experience to take care of what we need them to do for us. Second, and every bit as important, if not more so, we need them to be honest, have integrity and be people of character. A definition that I have used for character for many years is doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Carey Nieuwhof writes in his new book Didn’t See It Coming, that all the competency in the world can’t compensate for a lack of character.
My wife and I recently had an unexpected encounter with a person in a service profession who demonstrated honesty, integrity and character. An indicator light in Tammy’s car showed that the front left tire was running low. That was surprising as she had bought four new tires just five months ago. After adding air to the tire, we noticed a bubble in it so she set up an appointment to get the tire replaced. What happened next was a true demonstration of honesty, integrity and character. Continue reading →
A compromise doesn’t have to be something negative. For example, we compromise when a dispute is settled by mutual concession. But a compromise can also be when we accept standards that are lower than desirable. It is that latter definition that I want to explore here – those situations in which we compromise our character, values, beliefs or integrity. James 4:17 tells us “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”.
I got to thinking about this recently when we were discussing the chapter on missions from John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life in our faith and work book club at work. One of the members of our group asked what we would do if our employer put strong restrictions on how we lived out our faith at work. One way of looking at this issue is by looking at R.C. Sproul’s quote about obeying the government. Sproul stated that we should obey the government unless it prohibits us from doing something that God commands, or commands us to do something that God prohibits.
I thought about the concept of compromise again a few days later when I heard that the Chicago White Sox baseball team had hired Rick Renteria as their new manager. Renteria had been the manager of the rebuilding crosstown Chicago Cubs, and assured that he would be returning for the 2015 season until Joe Madden, arguably one of the best managers in the game, became available. Then Cubs president Theo Epstein went back on his word to Renteria. Epstein didn’t skirt the issue at the time, stating “We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.” So the Cubs, who on Saturday night advanced to the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and will face the Cleveland Indians to try to win it for the first time since 1908, compromised their promise to their manager, so that they could sign another manager that could lead them to a championship. That is what the Cubs were willing to compromise on – winning a championship became more important than keeping their word. And so that my Cub fan readers won’t think I’m picking just on them, many St. Louis Cardinals fans felt that the Cardinals organization compromised a few years back when they signed infielder Jhonny Peralta who had been caught and punished for using performance enhancing drugs. How about you? In what areas are you willing to compromise?
There are an endless amount of other situations we could look at regarding compromise. This year’s presidential election gives us many examples. I’ll consider just two. What about Mike Pence, an Evangelical who agreed to be the running mate of Donald Trump, a man of questionable principles? Or how about Tim Kaine, a Roman Catholic, who agreed to be the running mate of Hillary Clinton and run on a pro-abortion platform, which is contrary to his Catholic faith?
The Bible gives us both positive (Daniel) and negative (David) examples as far as compromise. In what areas of life do we face compromise today? There are many, and here are just a few possibilities:
As a leader, do you take credit when things go well, but blame your team when things don’t?
Or do we shade the truth at work to put ourselves in a positive light, perhaps by taking credit for work that we didn’t do?
Are we dishonest when completing our tax returns?
Do we visit Internet sites that we know we shouldn’t because nobody is watching?
Do we handle our business dealings with integrity?
Do we share information with others when we’ve been asked not to? (Even under the guise of praying for someone).
As a leader, are you known for doing whatever it takes to help you achieve your career goals for advancement, mowing over people and leaving “dead bodies” in your wake?
Do we compromise our marriage vows by carrying on an affair, even an affair of the heart, with a co-worker?
Do we tell others that we will be praying for them to make ourselves look good, but then not pray for them?
As Christians, we don’t want to be people who compromise our character, values, beliefs or integrity. It’s easy to find plenty of examples about others who have compromised, but harder to look at ourselves. What other examples of compromise can you think of?