Moral Authority (1)
"Don't be so naïve... you could fall flat on your face." 1 Corinthians 10:12 TM
Before you set your goals, determine your values! To envision what you can do without first determining what you should be, is to set yourself up for a fall. Your accomplishments may make your name known, but your character will determine what people associate with it. Your gifts dictate your potential; your character determines your legacy. "What is character?" you ask. It's the will to do what's right even when it's hard. It's deciding ahead of time what's non-negotiable. Count on it, the day will come when "progress" calls for compromising your convictions. In that moment what hangs in the balance - is your moral authority!
You'll be tempted to believe that once you reach a certain level, these challenges disappear. Wrong! Success doesn't make anything easier. It just raises the stakes. What was once applauded is now simply expected. It's a lot easier to win the title than defend it.
Furthermore, with promotion comes the inclination to see yourself as the final authority on right and wrong. It's not uncommon to find leaders playing by a different set of rules. Everything really does look different at the top. Once intoxicated by success we start to believe that the rules don't apply to us. That can be fatal!
In the final analysis your reputation is how you're known before others but your character is how you're known before God. "But why cling to something that has the potential to slow me down?" Because what's at stake is - your moral authority!
Moral Authority (2)
"Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts." Proverbs 4:23 TEV
The title on your business card may prompt people to lend you their hands, but only your moral authority will inspire them to give you their hearts. Moral authority is established when it becomes clear to all that progress, financial reward and recognition are not your gods; that you value something more, something you refuse to sacrifice on the altar of profit or popularity. With moral authority comes influence. You can manage people without moral authority but you can't influence them. Wake up! Talking one way and living another "wounds" you, and depending on time and circumstance, you may or may not recover from it.
You can tell yourself that how you conduct your private life is nobody's business, but if there's a perceived difference between what you demand of others and what you do yourself, it'll erode people's respect for you. While your position may make you secure, your influence and moral authority will always remain fragile. At any given time you're only one decision, one word, one reaction away from destroying what took years to build.
"Why is it important to know this?" you ask. Because the fastest route from where you are today to where you'd like to be tomorrow, isn't always the most honorable one. Leading, and being the person you want to be, don't always line up. It's in those moments, however that you discover a great deal about yourself - you find out what you value most!
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