Opinion: “Nobody is immune to moral failings.”

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A week doesn’t seem to go by without a story about a once-respected leader being caught up in a moral failing. From extra-marital affairs, bullying, unethical practices, greed, dodgy procurement deals and, most sadly, abuse of vulnerable victims. The light is being shone on the immoral practices of some previously influential church leaders, politicians, CEOs and other leaders.

It is a good thing that such moral falls are being exposed. A leader who wants to make the world a better place cannot, in any circumstance, act immorally. To do so is much like driving a big truck down a motorway at high speed whilst drinking a bottle of whiskey. Eventually you will crash making victims of not only those in your vehicle, but also everyone around you. Take for example a Church leader who has an affair. His act has a hugely detrimental effect not only on himself but his family, his congregation and the public’s view of the Church and Christianity as a whole.

Having advised on many crisis leadership cases, I want to give anyone aspiring to leadership a warning: With the exception of more serious crimes, nobody is immune to moral failings. In fact, most of the people I have worked with, are good people who started their leadership journey with wonderful intentions and high hopes of using their skills to make this world a better place.

The difficulty is that leadership roles, with all their influence, power, anointing, fame and money, opens a person up to opportunities, choices and temptations that most people don’t face. That’s not an excuse but a reality and so, if that leader does not have solid character or they have unresolved brokenness, they are primed to fail morally. The unique stress of leadership will put pressure on your foundations like nothing else.

That’s why, before anybody tries to force their own promotion (which is itself a red-flag), I would advise them that outward reform, changing the world, begins with inward renewal. Do not rush this process. It can, and does, take years to build such a strong character that no amount of money, sex or other opportunity sways you from your responsibilities.

The Bible, for example, is full of encouragement in that regard. Moses, a man prone to rage to the point of murder, spent 40 years in the desert refining his character before he was ready to carry the responsibility of leading a nation. Joseph was a slave and a prisoner for 13 years before he was promoted to Prime Minister of Egypt. And Daniel spent years in waiting before he was promoted to a position of influence.

As a general rule, the bigger the assignment, the longer the waiting period needs to be for your sake, and for others. Just like a slingshot, the longer you are held back the further you will go. Embrace the waiting as preparation rather than feeling held back, and act accordingly. Do you have any unresolved wounds from your past that impact you today, for example, grief, loss, rejection, bullying and so on? Do you have any weaknesses like a need to people please or a tendency to use pornography or the use of unhealthy substances to deal with anxiety? Do you struggle with anger, fear, poverty mindsets and so on?

In my opinion the greatest leaders, the ones who really did change the world for the better, did just that. They achieved the difficult balance of leading with pure hearts and skilled hands. Will you?

Main Photo Credit: Hunters Race via Unsplash

Chris Kerr

Chris is a husband to Alicia and father to Thea, who is the subject of his columns on Fatherhood for Sorted.  In his spare time he works for a national law firm in an executive capacity and provides crisis leadership consultancy support for non-profits across the UK.  He attends Urban Crofters Church in Cardiff.  A keen weekend adventurer, Chris is regularly spotted in the sea or on mountains.
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