The last few years have not been good for those who have been looking to leaders to guide them through the turbulent tides of life. We trust leaders to be examples and to help us navigate the uncertain waters of daily living. But we often discover that many of these leaders can't navigate these waters themselves.Whether it is politics, religion, sports or business, the defects in leadership seem to be reoccurring too often.
There is a statue of Queen Victoria in the center of the capital city of my country, Nassau, in the Bahamas. Through hurricanes, hot summers and pigeon attacks, she just sits there smiling. She never yields to temptation. Queen Victoria is the perfect example of the greatest ingredient in leadership: character.
Throughout the pages of recorded history and the Bible are scattered the sad stories of great men and women who rose to impressive positions of leadership influence. They exercised skill, courage, passion, faith and all the other qualities we admire in leaders.
Yet many of them failed in the area of character. Abraham succumbed to the compromise of his wife. David surrendered to his lust. Solomon used his influence to indulge his passions.
I am convinced that the future of leadership will be determined by whether a return to character becomes the priority. Recently, much of the focus of leadership has been on position, power, talent and charisma. It is as if reputation has become more important than personal responsibility and position more important than disposition. We need leaders with character.
"Character" is defined by four principles: fixed, predictable, image and statue. "Fixed" means character is stable and set. "Predictable" means character can be trusted and sustain expectations. "Image" means character's nature is inherent and reflects its essence. The last one, "statue," is the most exciting and graphic to me.
Simply put, character is the inherent, predictable nature and moral fiber of a person. You could also say it like this: integrity.
The root meaning of "integrity" is "integrated" or "to be one." In other words, who you are, what you say, what you do and how you appear are all one. There is no dichotomy or division in your person. You are not one thing in public and another in private. Character is present when what you say is what you do.
Most of our leaders seem to be characters but aren't people of character. The Queen Victoria statue illustrates the difference. Character is who you are when no one is watching. Victoria is the same all night as she is all day.
This example reflects the very essence of God Himself. He boasts that He never changes and is the same always. That is why we can trust Him—He is predictable. He is always there.
Character is the principle that protects your purpose and potential. I want to dedicate myself to helping every leader that enters in my influence to pursue this vital principle of leadership.
Character does not develop in a vacuum; it comes through tests, pressure and challenges. Face the temptations and challenges like a statue, and respond only to the Sculptor.
I challenge and encourage you to commit yourself to making the cultivation and development of your character your major priority, and to be an example of one whose integrity endured to the end.n
Myles Munroe is the founder, president and senior pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International. He is also author of numerous books, including The Spirit of Leadership. He hosts leadership summits in August and November. For more information, visit www.bfmmi.com.