All Systems Fail

Imagine you are a pilot flying a state-of-the-art airplane with 300 passengers and crew on board. You are cruising at top speed and altitude, when suddenly all your computer screens, lights, and meters go dark. No altimeter, airspeed, GPS guidance, radio, etc. This has happened before, and surprisingly, the pilots were able to land the airplane. If systems failure in an aircraft is a serious event with potential dire consequences, imagine what happens when “all systems fail” in a leader’s character.

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Leadership Systems Fail

When the integrity of a Spiritual leader fails, the financial cost may not be in the millions, but the Spiritual cost can hardly be overestimated. By their actions, leaders can make or break an organization, advance or destroy a cause, empower or stagnate a movement. They can lead the way or lose the way – and in either case, because of their influence, they take a lot of people with them.

How to Avoid Integrity Meltdown

One decision, one act, one moral slip by the leader can have terrible consequences for the entire organization, even in the secular world of automobile manufacturing (check out what happened to Volkswagen a couple years ago). That is because integrity is a highly-valued leadership trait. As Biblical leaders, you and I have the added responsibility of representing Christ, whether we lead in the Church or in the marketplace. That is why, protecting our integrity against an “all systems fail” is essential. There are three simple practices that can go a long way in helping you and I avoid losing our integrity and causing damage to a significant number of people.

  1. Commit to Integrity. Put in simple terms, integrity is being the same in heart, mind, and actions. Integrity is about who you are as a person, the commitments that you stand on, and living a consistent life. It is the kind of attitude and actions that glorify God, protects you from stumbling, and encourage constant growth.

  2. Be Accountable. This is where things get a bit complex. The safest way to guard our integrity is in community. The opposite is also true; trying to maintain integrity alone is a recipe for disaster. The leaders we look up to, who maintained integrity and finished well are usually accountable to God and to a small group of peers, intimate friends to whom their innermost secrets are known.

  3. Be Focused. What is the purpose of our life, of your leadership? If it is to glorify God, then let us follow Paul’s example and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, author and perfected of our faith. Our primary calling is not to lead or to accomplish things, but to be with God and serve Him forever. If that is the primary focus of our life, the rest will fall into place beautifully.

The way airplane designers avoid total systems failure is by building redundancies into every system of the aircraft. That means the same function is done by multiple independent mechanisms. When one system fails, there are usually two or three alternative ways to recover the lost function. Like airplanes flying high in the air, leaders are always one integrity failure away from a leadership “total systems fail.” That is why God has given us redundancies, practices, and of course, the teaching of His word to protect our integrity, our leadership, and our lives. Let’s make sure we embrace His way.