At times I wonder if the GOP (and politics in general) is a secret subsidiary of the WCW. As I watched the candidates and moderators engage in a battle to see who could be the biggest bully last night (I think the moderators won) I couldn’t help but hope that Hulk Hogan or Macho Man Randy Savage would bust onto the scene and engage in the macho soap opera. I think I just showed my age and the fact that I don’t follow wrestling by using them as my examples. Who are the big names now anyway? Who am I kidding? I don’t really care.
There was one question that stood out in my mind. One of the moderators asked Mike Huckabee if Donald Trump had the moral character to be President of the United States. Really? This is the hard hitting question that needs to be answered? A question that forces one person to judge the moral character of another person? It shouldn’t surprise me…but it did. If I were Mr. Huckabee, I would have said something like, “I have no concerns with the moral character of any candidate on this stage. The moral character I question is the moral character of the one who would ask such a divisive, counter-productive, and offensive question.” Then I would drop the mic and walk off stage (I have always wanted to do that. Unfortunately, the Countryman mic I use to preach with would not be that impactful as it floated to the floor).
If you are reading this I am sure that you have your own thoughts about the moral character of each and every candidate that was on that stage. While I think it was a horrendous question to ask one candidate to publicly address the moral character of another…it is a question that we each must ask ourselves as we discern the candidate we wish to support. More importantly, however, it is important that we consider our own moral character and ask ourselves, “Do I have the moral character that is needed to lead in the area in which I lead?”
Is that a big question for you? Something that is a bit daunting to tackle? It should be…because it is. It is a tough thing to dig into our own depths to seek out the truth of who we are. It is easy to attack others, as evidenced in our political arenas. What is difficult, yet necessary, is the self-exploration that will lead to more effective leadership and a healthier life. As you engage in your own self-exploration, here are a few things to consider.
- Your reputation is birthed by your character. It seems as though we have this backwards most of the time. We believe that if we create an image for ourselves, people will follow us. The problem is if that image does not match who you are, people notice that. Call it integrity. If your behaviors don’t match your professed values…you are not trustworthy. In politics, business, friendships, etc, most people spend too much time developing their image and too little time developing their character. In the end…character shows. Good or bad…character shows.
Character is the tree and reputation is its shadow – Abraham Lincoln
- Some character is universal. While not every case of morality is black and white, there are some instances when there is simply a right and wrong action. Within one’s cultural moral opinion, there are some things that are simply the right thing do to. Choosing not to do the right thing is a sign of poor moral character. It is easy to say that. However, many times the right thing to do is also the hardest thing to do. A person with strong moral character will always do the right thing. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. While the action may be difficult…the reason for the action is not.
Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things. – Peter Drucker
- Good character entails truth and grace. As I indicated earlier, integrity comes when your actions and your beliefs are in alignment. Note that this does not indicate the level of goodness of your character. You can act like a complete jerk but if those actions are rooted in jerk-like beliefs…then you have integrity. Integrity means, very simply, that you have an internal truth that you are willing to live out. But living with your truth alone does not create good character. Good character comes when we can live that truth in a grace-filled way. Scripture tells us that, while the law came through Moses, “grace and truth came through Jesus”. As a leader, you will gain respect from those you lead when you are able to stand firm in your beliefs in a way that shows grace to those around you. If you need evidence of this just look to the Scriptures. Jesus continually lived out His Truth in all He did, never compromising. Yet, He did so in a way that extended grace to all those who heard and witnessed His great work. And hoards of people followed Him.
Truth without grace is judgment cloaked in religion. Grace without truth is enablement. – Scott Sauls
You have had good leaders in your life and you have had bad leaders in your life. When you think about those leaders, my guess is the good leaders had good character and the bad leaders did not. Over the course of the next year, we will be hearing politicians judge and ridicule the character of the other person. Much of it will be propoganda…and some of it will be true. But, in the end…their character will show. And…so will yours.
Does Trump have moral character? Well…I have my opinions but I won’t share those here because I have found a more important question that needs to be answered. A question that if we all took the time to address…the world would be a better place. That question: Do I have moral character?
Maybe we should all ask ourselves that question.