Integrity and mission success
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see - we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. -2 Corinthians 6:1-10, New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
Ash Wednesday occurred this week. I know that not everyone practices Ash Wednesday, even in the Christian world. However not only is it important to mark the start of Lent/ Jesus’ journey to the cross, but it also marks a reality check for our lives. Too often we get complacent until the ice storms of our lives hit, and then we are busy gnashing our teeth and looking for generators. Ash Wednesday provides an annual chance to get re-focused on what is truly important in life.
One of those important items in our lives is integrity. Paul reminds the believers in Corinth, and all of us that he did not put any “obstacles in anyone’s way” to prevent the obstacle of scandal from affecting not only our faith in God but our faith in each other whether it be on an individual or corporate level. We see our leaders in Congress and even some of our military leaders forget this essential aspect of leadership and healthy relationships. Integrity is not an option, and whether you are Christian or not, it does affect everything we do.
In my experience, technical and tactical competence only goes so far in making a unit successful. Leaders of all ranks set the standard of success or failure by both insuring the mission finished successfully and in a way that Soldiers were proud of what they completed. Sometimes a unit receives recognition for outstanding success on the field, but what went on behind closed doors hinders the accomplishment, and sometimes covers it up. Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent provide an opportunity to look at every aspect of our lives to check to see if we are putting obstacles in peoples’ paths.
Paul’s life provides an example of both the technical/ tactical competence and the integrity piece. No matter whether he was eating a meal with friends or getting beaten in a prison, he led the way in outstanding service in all areas. He mentored others in how to balance the competing pieces, and he never asked anyone to do anything he did not do first even to the point of his execution in Rome. People emulated Paul because he followed Jesus with integrity. He maintained a standard of excellence in all areas of his life, and he manifested great courage and sacrifice to live it out no matter what the cost.
In our lives, the majority of decisions we make will not end up like Paul’s execution. However we have to ask ourselves, are we clearing the path for others to follow or making obstacles with our conduct? Success is only truly successful if others are both able to follow and want to follow in our footsteps. If you are causing others to stumble by your conduct, find someone to mentor you in how to live a life of integrity, and if you are already leading a life of integrity, find others to mentor in order that others may learn to lead lives that enrich rather than trip.