Monday, December 12, 2011

SERVE: Embody the Values

It's finally time for the last post in the SERVE series. I hope you've learned a lot from the SERVE concept. If you don't see a way to apply it to your life, I encourage you to look twice. You don't have to be in a position of authority to be a leader. In fact, some of the best examples of a great leader are found not by those in authoritative positions, but by those in humble and lowly positions. That said, I'd like to jump in to the last concept of SERVE: the second E.

The second E stands for Embody the Values.

See the Future
Engage and Develop Others
Reinvent Continuously
Value Results and Relationships
Embody the Values

I can summarize this whole concept in one sentence with the maxim, "Be what you preach." This concept has everything to do with character, integrity, and trust. In order to be a servant leader, you must have character, integrity, and the trust of those you are leading.

Your character and integrity are defined by who you are behind close doors. These are perhaps two of the most important, if not the most important, characteristics of a servant leader. Unfortunately, in today's society, they've been thrown away. Many people have fallen because of a lack of integrity and character. Go back in time a few years and remember the great Michael Vick scandal. He was one of the NFL's most prolific quarterbacks, but it was revealed that he was responsible for an underground dog-fighting organization. He was to blame for the death, torture, and horrible mistreatment of dozens of dogs. He had no character. The country was in an uproar over what he had done and nobody liked him. What he did behind close doors was evil, monstrous, and not to mention, illegal. And he paid dearly for his crime and lack of character.

On the other hand, look at a man with impeccable integrity: Tony Dungy. There is hardly a more loved and respected man in the NFL world. I lived in Indianapolis for several years during his tenure as head coach of the Colts, and his character and trust was legendary. As a result, he had the trust of his players, coaches, and the Colts organization. He was trusted to and had freedom to lead and make decisions as he saw fit. He had integrity.

What you do behind closed doors greatly impacts who you are out in public. King David learned this lesson the hard way. He had the reputation of being the guy after God's own heart. But his lack of integrity cost him. He had an affair, got the girl pregnant, and murdered her husband (one of his finest generals, by the way) just to cover it up. But God sees everything and knew what happened. He had his prophet Nathan rebuke King David, and David realized what he had done. David's lack of integrity greatly embarrased him and even cost him the life of that child. But he learned his lesson. In Psalm 42:15, David wrote, "Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever."

You can find a lot of verses about integrity in Proverbs. Proverbs 10:9 says, "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out." Proverbs 11:3 says, "The integrity" of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." Proverbs 13:6 says, "Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner."

Of course, Jesus also displayed character and integrity, more so than anyone else. He was the perfect servant leader, so let's look how he had character and integrity. Matthew 12:14 records how some Pharisees and Herodians described Jesus' integrity. They said, "Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth." That's what it means to be a man of integrity and of character.

But it's not easy to have character and integrity. You have to be determined, focused, and unwilling to compromise. You do have to pay a price for character and integirty, and that's surrendering your right to do what you want. Sometimes you have to do what's right and best for others than what you want to do and what's best for you. So why would you want to be a man of integrity? What's your motivation? As Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." In other words, though the price is high, the reward is even higher. Choose to be a man of integrity and character because that man will be trusted. A man of integrity will have the trust, devotion, and loyalty of his followers and his supervisors. That ultimately is why it is better to be a man of integrity. As George MacDonald once said, "To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved." I believe that everything rises and falls on leadership. If a leader cannot be trusted, he cannot lead. The Secret taught me that, "You must gain the trust of your people. If you don't have their trust,you'll never be a great leader." A man of integrity not only talks the talk, but he walks the talk. He is what he preaches. He follows the rules, guidelines, and expectations that he sets for his team.

To be a leader, you must be trusted. That's why it's so important to have character and integrity.

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