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The Real Danger of the Ripple Effect

First, let me start by saying I’m a strong supporter of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives.


I think we have a long way to go in learning how to listen and include diverse viewpoints and, at a practical point, organizations perform much better at multiple levels when disparate voices are at the table.


But that’s not really what this post is about. This diatribe is about ripples.


In the news recently, the former head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Facebook and Nike was sentenced to five years in prison. Barbara Furlow-Smiles pleaded guilty last year of defrauding more than $5 million from the two companies. Prosecutors accused her of funding a personal “luxury lifestyle.” In a memo, prosecutors added, “The fraud committed by Ms. Furlow-Smiles violated the trust of [the companies] and devastated the employees who managed and worked with her.’”


But her actions rippled to more than fellow employees caught up in her schemes and the huge sums of money ripped off. As she admitted to the court at her sentencing, “I blew it big time,” adding that she had a life-long commitment to being a voice for disenfranchised people but her deception added “fuel to the fire of disengagement and attack of DEI efforts.”


In other words, her lack of integrity hurt not just the people around her, but the cause she had devoted her life to.


The ripples were far-reaching.


It caused me to reflect on something much worse: the litany of preachers and pastors who “blew it big time,” with the failure to consider how personal misconduct and malfeasance affect the cause of Christ—adding “fuel to the fire of disengagement.” Why would any nominal believer or unbeliever want to join a movement that fosters that level of hypocrisy? It’s not just that they’re disenchanted, it’s that the cause itself is damaged and viewed as disingenuous.


The ripples go out further than imagined. And for spiritual leaders, these ripples may have an eternal effect. Hence the need for leaders:


  • To not imagine themselves bulletproof;

  • To find safe places to download;

  • To remember the movements they are attached to;

  • To take the responsibility of being transparent and vulnerable;

  • To regularly invite God to: “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; see for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.”   PSALM 139:23, 24 THE MESSAGE

The ripples are too far-reaching to simply make this about us.


Dave Workman | The Elemental Group


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