Last week, I stopped on this crucial issue: “When asked to violate principles, a person of character chooses to comply with his ethical integrity.” At present, I am rounding off this series—that has added an enormous value to—too far many people in Nigeria and on this continent. I cannot thank enough all those who sent me mails and text massages in the last two weeks.
To start with at present, let’s look at the steps we should take if someone in charge asks us to do something contrary to our own moral conscience. First, we must discipline our own poor attitude. You see, as soon as we are asked to do something unethical, that request immediately elicits a response from us. If our response is also unethical, we suddenly become as guilty as the person who instructed us to do something wrong.
Secondly, we must continue to walk in integrity and respect towards others. As we commit to demonstrate excellence in both attitude and performance, our integrity will eventually deliver us to the other side of every difficult situation, with our character un-violated and intact. Finally, we must appeal to those in position of authority on the basis of ethical principle. For the most part, superiors really appreciate it when someone appeals to them with established principles of truth and honor. People who appeal with their opinions and their attitudes rarely have much to say. However, if all of us will bow to truth, we will arrive at a peaceable solution in every situation.
We should continually strive to live from our inner character compass and not according to the capricious customs of society. If we will do this, we won’t have to be constantly corrected or restrained by others. Instead, we will be self-correctors who know right from wrong and choose to honor ethical principle, even in the most challenging of situations.
Whenever we willingly listen to the influencers—who have been placed over us, character is the harvest that our lives will produce. Why? Because those over us will often ask us to do things we do not desire to do, and character is developed only as we willingly fulfill those unwanted assignments.
On the condition that we are interested in productivity in our lives, we must choose the path of compliance: for the fruit of compliance is character, the fruit of character is moral strength; and the effect of moral strength is productivity.
Also, character responds to positions of leadership with honor and respect. This does not necessarily mean that every individual who is in a leadership position is worthy of honor and respect by merit of his person. He is, however, due that respect and honor by merit of the position that he holds. For instance, in the realm of government, there are offices and positions that must be held in high esteem for the influence they hold and the policy decisions they will make in countless lives. In turn, it is our responsibility to make right choices regarding who fills such positions, so we can live in peace and our children can live in safety.
We demonstrate a glaring lack of character when we judge others, especially our leaders! The truth is that whenever we criticize others, we condemn ourselves, for those who point fingers at others are usually practicing the same vices.
Something else that must be considered is that our leaders were not placed in their positions to please us. They were placed there to serve and please their authorities. Who are we, then, to criticize another man’s responsibility? They are accountable to their authorities, not to us. A man of character refuses to circumvent the structure of authority that he has been assigned to obey.
Those in charge of certain areas of our lives have the ability to give both demotions and promotions to those who are under their jurisdictions. When a person attempts to forget ahead with his own plans, without the approval or oversight of those who are leading, he circumvents authority and sabotages both the protective advantage of accountability and the promotional advantage of favor.
Now, we may wish it did not work this way, but that does not change anything. The principle holds true no matter how many people float in and out of commitments and relationships, saying, “Well, I am my own person, and I do not need to be accountable to anyone.” That faulty way of thinking is still a lie, no matter how many people believe it.
Some people focus so much on their individuality and independence that they reject all authorities in life. However, such behavior is a perversion of individual rights. True, each person has individual rights, but not the right to do whatever he or she wants. Rather, each person has a right to do what is ethical.
Remember, the choices we make are the only factors that decide whether we will be overtaken with rewards or consequences. The consequences of our choices cannot be changed or altered; those consequences are dictated by the Law of Sowing and Reaping. If we choose to be noncompliant or self-willed, our choice has an emotional hand grenade tied to it. That ticking bomb will eventually explode and bring destruction into our lives and, possibly, the lives of those around us.
A biblical prophet said these words: “If we are willing and obedient, you shall eat the best of the land.” Many people want to have the best of everything, but aren’t experiencing anything of the sort. Here’s why: They are not willing to honor those in charge. The moment a leader has a conversation with them about something that could be altered; they consider it a lecture and quickly become disrespectful.
Many people grew up in dysfunction, where authority figures hurt and abused them. In order to protect themselves, they hardened and closed their hearts. Even as adults, they carry the belief that authority figures will hurt and abuse them, if given the chance. However, ethical authority is an advocate and an asset in our lives, sent to reward us when we are compliant and to get us back on track when we go astray.
Why is it so important to understand this? It’s because, if we do not adjust our thinking in this area, we will be hindered in every arena of life. But, if we start relating to our authorities as proponents for our good, we will be protected when we make errors in judgment. We will be delivered out of the messes we make for ourselves, just by virtue of our compliant hearts. See you where rock-solid leaders are found!
We cannot remain disrespectful and closed off to leadership and then expect to be rescued from self-imposed difficulties. After all, disrespect was the source of our problems in the first place. There is only one way to extricate ourselves from the mire of disrespect and dishonor. We must rise above it by listening to precepts of truth rather than to our own misguided perspectives.
Lastly, it is our choice. We must choose, for ourselves, whether or not we are going to comply. If we pass the tests, by making the right choices to willingly comply with authoritative directives, we will begin to see a dramatic transformation take place in our lives. We will rid ourselves of fear, we will feel safer than ever before, and joy will return to our lives in abundant reassured. In other words, we will eat the best of Nigeria.