Several months ago a woman, who is not my wife, came to my house and falsely claimed that we had an intimate relationship.
The lady came by my house and dropped off a gift and a card. When I saw the package, I just put it on the ground and went back to pruning the shrubs. My wife came by and asked about the package. I told her who it was from and that I wasn’t going opening it.
(The woman who dropped off the letter had been attending our church for a few years, but was mentally unstable).
My wife opened the card.
“You’d better look at this,” she said with an upside-down smile.
In the letter, she falsely described an encounter between the two of us.
As a missionary leader at our church, I knew there was no point in trying to hide the content of the letter. Not knowing any better course of action, I took the letter and gave it to some of the leaders at the church. They told me they’d meet with her and take care of the situation.
It wasn’t until days later that I realized how well everything turned out.
- My wife didn’t ask if it was true.
- The members at church didn’t ask if it was true.
Everyone just instinctively knew that the accusation was false.
In this case, it could easily be said that the woman’s lack of morality and character was the reason why the accusation was not taken seriously. However, it did make me realize how potentially damaging an accusation can be.
What if she was a person with a little more credibility?
It’s hard to know what to say when you’re falsely accused. There’s not much to say other than, “I didn’t do it.”
Ultimately, the lesson I learned is that integrity matters. In times of unfair accusations and false rumors, integrity can often be your only witness.
How to Develop Integrity in Leadership
- Realize every action counts. No one will say it, but everyone is watching. How you acted 10 years ago could instantly be brought to light. Integrity is a trust account that is slowly built over a long period of time. There is no quick way to build integrity.
- Act in light of God’s Presence. If you ever find yourself looking over your shoulder before doing something, it probably means you shouldn’t do it. Instead, look up. If God is present, then do what is right in His sight.
- Avoid situations where misunderstanding is possible. When I was in youth ministry, I had a policy that I wouldn’t drive alone in a car with a teenage girl. It was a terrible inconvenience at times, but I’m glad I made that choice. It helped build a solid history of accountability.
- Embrace forms of accountability. Freedom is not the ability to act without answering to anyone. It is choosing the right ways to be open. That may be a window on an office door. It may be requiring a financial audit. Open the door to accountability for your own protection.
- Surround yourself with Godly mentors. Integrity is lost when the soul wants to take a short cut. Supportive mentors will help keep us focused on doing what is right before God.
In a moment, without notice, your integrity and morality can go on trial. You won’t have time to prepare a reasonable defense. Your defense will have been crafted by how you have been living.
Integrity matters. Protect it.