Morals Matter

Hey Folks!
Sorry I've been silent for so long--launching our eldest off to college and adjusting to three, not four plates, at the dinnertable is a major reason why. Let me throw some grist into the mill for a brief thought or two today...

We've been hit in the headlines recently with two significant falls from grace, both involving Alpha Males in their respective fields: General David Petraeus in the military/intelligence realm and Lance Armstrong in pro cycling. The consequences of their catastrophic choices have offered spectacular crashes, plummetting them from the heights of fame and power to places of public scorn and ridicule. There's a parable here, a morality play of sorts, for those willing to listen.

I suspect (and I'm only surmising) that in each case, the power of these two individuals elevated them to a rarefied realm where they were surrounded by people who largely profited from agreeing with them, rather than challenging them or confronting them. Power isolates even as it elevates. It removes us from relationships of parity and mutuality, where we can receive the hard word when needed. Along with this, power and influence often create their own world around the privileged, a world where rules are bent, twisted, and broken to suit the needs of those in power. "The ends justify the means", a Lance Armstrong might say. "Everybody's doping. This is what's needed to compete--and to win--at the top level. Besides, this success allows me great influence in the worldwide battle against cancer. That can't be wrong." And who can argue with success, right? Right?

David Petraeus might've had his own version of this self-justifying monologue: "Given the great responsibilities and the sacrifices I'm making to serve my country away from my family, I deserve this little indulgence, this little thing on the side. That can't be wrong, right? Right?"

Wrong. The moral of the story in both cases is that power and influence carry their own occupational hazards: they can isolate us, they can elevate us beyond others to a point where (even if unconsciously) we believe the rules don't apply to us. It's lonely at the top--and sometimes dangerous. If we're not grounded in deeper realities, realities well beyond our personal success and power, we're far more vulnerable to a fall. And given the height of prominence, that fall can be spectacular indeed.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the  mighty hand of God, that he may lift you up in due season," writes the Apostle Peter. Living under the reign of God and God's healthy guidelines in his Word can grant us an inner humility and self-awareness, which, when combined with close friends and colleagues who can call us to account when we're tip-toeing into dangerous territory, may save us and those we lead.

No comments: