For the umpteenth time, character discovers its assignment in every relationship and then postures itself accordingly. For instance, a corporate executive cannot act with the same authority before his company president that he does when he stands before his own office staff. He must assume two different postures, because these are two different types of relationships. He goes before his staff making statements; but he walks before his president asking questions. Why? Not because the president has greater inherent value, as a person, but simply because he governs the executive’s position, as his delegated authority. We are to be subject to our respective bosses. Once again, the word “subject” means we are to bow our own desires to theirs. Sound impossible? This concept will become clearer, as we explore further.
The correct posture becomes much easier to assume when we determine to stay faithful to principle, not necessarily to people. For instance, you or I may get upset with people, but we do not have the right to spout off at them. We must relate to others according to our internal character barometer, not according to their actions.
Virtue does not require that one be eloquent, innovate, or skillful in leadership abilities. However, it does require that one be faithful. The goal isn’t to be slickest people on the block or the sharpest pencil in the box; the goal is simply to be found faithful.
When we look at this issue of relating to influencers, relationship becomes very simple. Whether position we hold determines the posture we are to take. It is equally as important to know who we are not as it is to know who we are in each and every relationship. When we understand our correct posture in relationship, we will ultimately be promoted.
The posture we are to assume in our relationships with our superiors doesn’t change based upon how well they exercise their authority in our lives. Whether they are easy or challenging to follow, they still occupy the leadership position, and we still must relate to them according to ethical principles of compliance.
As I mentioned earlier, these principles are true in every realm of life. Whether we are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, employers, or employees, we will find a definition of who we are in the proven principles of integrity. When we don’t understand the role we have, in a particular relationship, we miss out on its many benefits and bring upon ourselves all kinds of frustration and consequences. We must define who we are in each of our relationships and then posture ourselves accordingly. We will never find success in our pursuit of excellent character until we have taken this step.
Only a very small percentage of people even attempt to fulfill the appropriate roles in their relationships. For those who do, though, life becomes very simple. Such people are fulfilled and at peace. They stop looking over the fence, wishing they were someone else. Everything becomes easier when we understand the power of order and boundaries.
Any movement towards order, in one’s personal life, will bring productivity and growth. Even the simplest step toward order can make an enormous difference. For instance, the moment a person refuses to leave his bedroom in the morning without first making the bed, he has taken a step toward a life that is defined by order.
When we understand the importance of defining parameters in life, we don’t try to mold the people around us into what we want them to be. Instead, we try to encourage people to be the unique, special individuals that they are. When they feel comfortable and confident stepping into their roles and distinct identities, they are much more willing to adapt themselves to the authority figures in their lives.
Every authority has a jurisdiction. “Jurisdiction” can be defined as authority and power, based on right. In other words, jurisdiction refers to authorized power and responsibility. It also refers to those areas and spheres over which such authority can be exercised—defined boundaries that are not to be violated. That means there are people who have authority and jurisdiction in one area of our lives, but none in other areas.
Upon close examination, we will find that the authority of conflicts in our personal lives, in business, in diplomacy, and in most other societal relations comes as a direct result of jurisdictional violations. It is imperative that we remember two key principles when dealing with matters of jurisdiction:
One, we must each be diligent to discover, understand, and fulfill all our responsibilities within our given jurisdiction (s). Two, we must never cross another’s jurisdictional boundaries.
Those with honorable character refuse to take authority over something that they are not responsible for. That is why someone such as our previously discussed corporate executive doesn’t allow himself to get dragged into the family matters of his staff. Unless ethical violations are being committed that will affect others within his responsibility, he does not have jurisdiction in their personal family matters and should refuse to extend his jurisdiction where he does not have the responsibility to do so.
It is necessary that we understand matters of jurisdiction, so we can know what to do when we face conflicting instructions, coming from different directions. The first question to ask ourselves in such a situation is this: Does this person have the right to give me this command? Once the answer to that question is deciphered, it becomes much easier to answer the next: Should I listen to this person’s instructions, concerning this situation?
For example, let’s say we are commanded by a governmental authority to carry out an action that is a blatant violation of the fundamental respect for human life. Even though duty calls upon us to submit to governmental authorities, in this case, we must submit to an even higher authority—the moral and ethical responsibility to protect human life, because jurisdictional boundaries have been crossed, we must follow our moral compass above all. When asked to violate principles, a person of character chooses to comply with his ethical integrity…I will take this crucial issue further come next week Monday.
See you where rock-solid leaders are found!