Leading with integrity
A Christian Science perspective: On honest leadership and the blessings it brings.
Public demands for “clean government” have been demonstrated recently by many protests and initiatives within developing-nation democracies. New leaders committed to the goal of an honest and transparent government have been elected. The Monitor editorial “Poor democracies that aren’t poor in demanding honesty” (Sept. 1, 2016, CSMonitor.com) states that “the efforts in these democracies represent a sea change in public thinking,” and conveys that cultures of corruption and impunity need to be broken. That requires not only ongoing reforms, but leaders who will stand up against offenders and prosecute them.
Underlying these public demands is the message that a truly vital trust is inherent in any honest leadership role. Leaders are entrusted to demonstrate a high standard of ethics – actions that exhibit honesty, integrity, justice, morality, and responsibility. In my own experience, I have learned about this trust from a variety of jobs I have held.
In particular, there was a time when I had a leadership role and found myself faced with implementing an organizational policy that would affect my department unfairly. The staff looked to me to lead by rectifying the matter and finding a solution. Because there was no one looking closely over my shoulder, I could have got away with ignoring the policy. Clearly, that would not have set the best example for my staff or been a good precedent for any leader after me.
On the other hand, challenging the policy would have resulted in a very difficult situation with possible negative repercussions. What was I going to do? Having turned to prayer and Christian Science many times before for guidance, I knew that prayer should be my first step.
I prayed with the Lord’s Prayer, articulated by Christ Jesus (see Matthew 6:9-13), along with its spiritual interpretation written by the founder of this publication, Mary Baker Eddy (see “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 16-17). I prayerfully acknowledged that God, as my true Father-Mother, governed me, and is all-powerful and ever-present. I affirmed that God’s will, and not self-will, was in control. Because God governed me and because His will is always right and good, I could express only Christly qualities such as integrity and selflessness.
In prayer, it came to me that I should take what appeared to be the more difficult route of approaching senior management, explaining how the policy would affect my department, and recommending a possible solution. I did so and my superiors thanked me for taking that step. It turned out that matters were resolved in an effective manner for all concerned.
I was very grateful to have been guided to act in a way that was in accord with God’s will, the approach based on integrity – true to the trust inherent in my role as a leader, and more important, true to my spiritual identity as God’s likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27). Since God is Spirit (see John 4:24) and is our creator, we can affirm that we are all God’s spiritual offspring. And since God is good (see Psalms 135:3), we, in reality, can express only God’s goodness. We evidence this in our lives by demonstrating honesty, faithfulness, and unselfishness.
Christ Jesus and his supreme example can provide encouragement and inspiration as we strive to fulfill the responsibility placed upon us, whether we’re leading many, few, or simply ourselves. Jesus was led by God in everything that he did, and this naturally enabled him to lead others, and caused others to follow him. And he taught us that the Christ, his spiritual individuality, was always with us (see Matthew 28:20). In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy describes Christ as “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (p. 332).
The Christ always reliably leads thought, and we learn this more and more as we follow Christ. Our ability to lead comes not from ourselves. As Jesus said: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).
The recent demands around the world for clean government reveal the vital need for government leaders to fulfill the trust inherent in their leadership roles. We can prove in our own lives that it is possible to lead with integrity and selflessness. From the smallest opportunity to lead, to the largest, leading in the right way can only bless.