Have you heard the news about _______?
Just insert the name of a politician, athlete, leader, celebrity, influencer, whatever…and then the inevitable follow-up story about some moral failure. What is it that so captures our attention? Like an expressway pileup, everyone slows down for a potential view of twisted metal and who knows what else. And the more serious the wreckage, the slower the traffic. In our 24/7 news cycle, you can count on the paparazzi camping on the doorstep to feed us minute-by-minute updates. Recently, in one well-known case of infidelity, pundits and commentators took potshots at the person’s repeated references to how important his marriage was, with news clips and interviews of him espousing family-first values. Face it: Integrity is getting more difficult on Planet Interweb. We could easily alphabetize a list of celebrities who got caught, from actors to preachers to politicians to sports stars. But what the public really loves is to lick its lips over hypocrisy. That’s when we smell blood. Even Jesus had his biggest rows with hypocrites. We get the word hypocrite from the Greeks who purposed it for stage actors…a person pretending to be someone they aren’t. Jesus jumped all over that. And that’s where the media pounces: when someone espouses a view or projects a persona that turns out to be the opposite of what they say. I think we come at this from one of three angles: When someone preaches a value of virtuousness, it reminds us of how we fall short, and so we all nod like third-graders in feigned-serious agreement with a teacher’s lecture—we don’t want to be found out. Therefore, when someone stumbles publicly, we feel relieved that no one is really that perfect.
Or… There is something grossly malevolent in us about secretly wishing for someone else’s downfall. It’s gossip, one-upmanship, and let’s admit it: wickedly appealing. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “How difficult it is to avoid having a special standard for oneself!”
Maybe, just maybe, we really yearn to see someone be true, virtuous and integrous. We want to believe that someone out there is actually who they say they are. Maybe we’re tired of people copping out with, “I’m an ______ (actor, athlete, celebrity, etc.), not a role model”, and wonder if there’s anyone who can step up to the plate and say, like Paul, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Or at least some secularized version of that. That’s gutsy. It may be that whatever view we hold is dependent on how aware we are of our own brokenness and how hungry we are for righteousness. One thing for sure, Jesus has a lot to say about secret lives. Interestingly, He encourages a secret life when it comes to righteousness…and discourages secrecy with our brokenness and sin: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. MATTHEW 6:3–4 “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” LUKE 12:2–3
What a different way of thinking. We could avoid a lot of leadership heartbreak if we practiced that. But we would do good to remember this: accountability without the pursuit of righteousness is silly.
Just think what could happen if leaders in the Kingdom embraced that fully.
Dave Workman | The Elemental Group
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