Saturday, January 26, 2013

Integrity

Integrity
By The Post
Thu 24 Jan. 2013, 17:30 CAT

THE media is full of stories about leaders who lack integrity - men and women who, while leading, had some breach of trust that usually led to personal gain.

It is a well-known fact that Rupiah Banda came into Levy Mwanawasa's government broke and had serious challenges meeting his financial obligations. This was a man who was losing properties that he had pledged as collateral for failing to service his debts.

We also know that before he became president of the Republic following the death of Levy in 2008, Rupiah did not have the wealth he left government with three years later. The earnings of the president of the Republic of Zambia are not a secret.

And so are the businesses of the president because he has to make a declaration of his assets when filing in nominations to contest the elections for that office. We all know what Rupiah declared in 2008. But look at what Rupiah owns today, what he left State House with! It doesn't tie up with his earned income as President of the Republic. The question is: where did the extra or surplus money come from? Money does not grow on trees like some human beings, at least some.

Rupiah can claim to have received donations from well wishers. But who are those well wishers? Are they not people who were doing business with government?

We agree with Reverend Richard M'bao that the government should not allow plunderers and crooks that held public offices in the previous MMD regime to go scot-free.

We have repeatedly stated that leaders are not perfect people; neither are their followers. We will never have perfect leaders. Integrity, honesty doesn't require perfection, however. Rather, integrity, honesty demands that leaders and followers take responsibility for wrongs done and take steps to correct or make restitution for those wrongs.

At the heart of any assessment of biblical qualifications for leadership lies the concept of integrity - that uncompromising adherence to a code of moral, artistic, or other values that reveals itself in sincerity, honesty and candor and avoids deception and artificiality. The God-given capacity to lead has two parts: giftedness and character. Integrity is at the heart of character.

Integrity is a vital price of leadership for anyone who is serious about establishing a leadership style and legacy that will impact the society in a positive manner.

Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts. People can seek to understand, remember the little things, keep their promises, clarify and fulfill expectations, and still fail to build reserves of trust if they are inwardly duplicitous.

Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty. Honesty is telling the truth - in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words - in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life.

In Daniel 1:8-21, Daniel faced an integrity check that could have cost him his life: "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Now God had caused the official to show favour and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned you food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.' Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.

Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.' So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

To these four young men, God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus."

Please bear with this long passage, but we believe it says best what needs to be said about integrity, convictions.

Daniel, a teenager away from home and parental influence, was forced to decide if the convictions he grew up with were his own. In this case, the inner conviction was a religious one involving food. He was under pressure to violate this conviction, but he stuck to his conviction. God gave him relationships that allowed him to work out a plan that did not compromise his convictions. God honoured his unyielding character.

Daniel and his friends were respected for their knowledge and skills and were given top-level government jobs. This promotion to a strategic position is an example of expansion - an integrity check. Daniel stood firm and saw God provide a solution. This enabled him to stand on even tougher issues later in life.

Daniel had value-based integrity that helped him make decisions. He decided to be true to the dietary laws of his God and people in Babylon. His integrity didn't cost him his leadership; his integrity enhanced his leadership. He was a man of integrity.

Later in his career, there were many people who were jealous of Daniel's high position and sought to bring him down. When they observed him at work, we find this testimony to his levels of integrity that didn't wane as the years went on. "Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so.

They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally, these men said, 'We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God'" (Daniel 6:3-5).

That's part of the price of leadership - to be above reproach. If a mistake is made, then integrity demands that a leader take ownership for it and make it right. In this generation where everyone is a victim and wrongs done seem to be no one's fault, there is a desperate need for men and women of integrity to lead the way.

It is therefore very important that Rupiah and those who abused their public offices and trust with him are made to account. In this way, those who take up leadership positions will be made to hold to their values and make decisions that are consistent with who they are and what they believe in. In this way, we will reduce the chances of them selling out or cutting corners hoping that no one will know or will one day make them to account.

Let our leaders follow the example of Daniel, a man of integrity. Daniel's leadership remains a model to follow 2,500 years after he led. You might say his leadership has survived the test of time and want yours to do the same and pay the price of leadership that demands integrity.

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