In recent weeks, a scandal broke out that is shaking the academic world in the United States. According to one news source, “Hollywood stars, top CEOs, college coaches and university officials allegedly took part in a scheme to cheat on college admission tests and admit students to leading institutions as athletes, regardless of their abilities.” The consequences are deeper than a few underprepared students gaining admission into top universities. Many are now wondering if other, more qualified students were turned down so that cheaters could take their places.
Even in the world of entertainment and high business, a scandal like this matters because it questions the integrity of everyone involved, including people who are leaders and were supposed to be giving the example to the rest of us. Integrity in simple terms is being truthful and sincere. Of course, being truthful in all aspects of our life should include the process of gaining admission to institutions of higher education.
How to Protect our Integrity
I am certainly no Hollywood star, and I think it is unlikely that any celebrity reads this blog. At the same time, you and I have the possibility and the temptation to “cut corners” and compromise our integrity every single day. So, how are we going to protect ourselves? Here are four basic commitments that can help you protect your integrity and not fall prey to temptations like the one that is tarnishing the image of so many famous people.
Commit to Biblical Integrity. One of the problems of a world that rejects God is that we are left with no absolute standards for right and wrong. Learning and practicing the Word of God is the only rock-solid foundation that can help you maintain integrity. As the old hymn says “all other ground is sinking sand.”
Engage in Accountability. One of the strong characteristics of democracy is what we call “checks and balances.” Without accountability, we are at greater risk of failing and compromising our integrity. Every leader needs one or more close friends who have the freedom to ask the tough questions and whom they trust to maintain absolute confidentiality. Perhaps such inner circle of accountability would have avoided the story we are now reading about on the news.
Remember your Legacy. God’s will isn’t “for you” or “for my life.” His purpose goes beyond us and is multi-generational. His work will continue after we have left this life. When leaders live and lead with that reality in mind, they will invest in what will outlast them and guard their character and reputation against anything that may tarnish that legacy.
Focus on the Goal. Paul’s laser focus was on Jesus. Christ’s priorities should be our priorities. His standards should be our practice. Following His example should be our single goal in life.
Maintaining integrity is not a once-and-for-all effort. It is a daily effort that every leader needs to engage. The good news is that God is on our side. The Holy Spirit will help those who seek guidance and lead us in victory and integrity.