Simon Sinek has written multiple books on leadership. Although his books target the corporate structure, what he shares about leadership can be helpful to the body of Christ. Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last, shares a story that was told to him by a Marine Colonel who was in charge of the Officer Candidate School (OCS). The Colonel considered throwing an officer out of OCS because he had “fallen asleep on watch.” Simon was perplexed that falling asleep “in the woods of Virginia” could end the officer’s career. The Colonel explained that trust and Integrity are a matter of life and death in the Marine Corps, and the problem wasn’t that the candidate fell asleep; the problem was that when he was asked about it, he didn’t take responsibility for his actions; he denied it. They asked about it a second time, and he denied it. After showing the candidate proof that could not be refuted, the candidate took responsibility for his actions. He also said that not taking responsibility for his actions immediately diminished trust. If the “would be” candidate were to get a platoon of Marines, they would not be able to trust the information he gave them; it may cause them to hesitate, question his decision-making and hinder his team from coming together.
…..in every organization, even in ones where the decisions are not a matter of life and death. When we suspect the leaders of a company are saying things to make themselves or the company look better than they are or to avoid humiliation or accountability, our trust in them falters. It is a natural response. Our brain interprets the information we receive with our survival in mind. If we suspect our leaders are bending the truth to favor their own interests, then our subconscious mind prefers we don’t climb into a foxhole with him. (Sinek p.187)*
Integrity is telling the truth and taking immediate responsibility for our actions and even inactions. The Colonel also told the story of another Marine who fell asleep, and when questioned, he was honest and took responsibility immediately.
Simon says that the components of trust are honesty, Integrity, and accountability. These are all character traits necessary for trustworthy leaders; to be a true leader and to engender deep trust, a person must start by telling the truth.
Although Simon has not claimed himself to be a Christian leader, his name is biblical and in Hebrew means “to hear or to be heard.” This is one of those times when I believe we need to hear and do what Simon says, because he offers us principles that align with the Word of God. There are
numerous scriptures that give us wisdom in being a person of Integrity and truthfulness below are a few:
·The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. Proverbs 11:3
·Truthfulness endures forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Proverbs 12:19
Righteous lips are the delight of the king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. Proverbs 16:13
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:14-15.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. 1 Peter 1:22
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth. 3 John 1:4
As Christian leaders being a person of Integrity and truthfulness is imperative. It’s foundational to our Christian character. We can’t be healthy leaders if we dibble and dabble in deception. Deception destroys trust, relationships, people, organizations, and churches. We must also be mindful that believers are indwelt with the power of the Holy Spirit, who gives us discernment, the ability to know right from wrong and the ability to tell the Truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and his role is to guide us into all truth. When we tell the truth, people can discern that it is the truth, and this builds trust. This is why it is essential to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading scripture, silence, solitude, and being in a community with other believers because they help us to become more sensitive to the leading, the warnings, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit; they help us to become more discerning in what’s true and what is deception. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:4 to “Watch out that no one deceives you.” I believe this doesn’t just include other people; as Christian leaders, we must be careful not to deceive ourselves. This is also why as leaders, we need Nathans (2 Samuel 7:2, 1 Chronicles 17:1. in our lives who are wise advisors (Prov. 11:14) and mental health professionals to help us see our blind spots.
Simon says that the Colonel shared with him that Integrity and truthfulness are a matter of life and death as a Marine because when a leader gives information, we need to know that when they say something, good or bad, it is the truth. If another Marine can’t trust what is said, then they can’t trust them with their lives when they are out in the field.
As Christian leaders, we, too, are in a battle. We are on a battlefield fighting for the souls of the unsaved and for the spiritual maturity of the saved. When we make Integrity and truthfulness the bedrock of our character, we are used by the power of the Holy Spirit to save lives. Leadership requires that we are purveyors of information. We are proclaiming the Good News that leads to life! There is no greater salvation than eternal life. If we practice deception, we could cause our faith to become unattractive, and then we become the justification for why someone says, “I do not believe in Christ because that faith doesn’t work.” Or we could cause people to leave the institutional church, which disconnects them from a community that helps them to grow into spiritually mature believers or worse, they could walk away from God. As leaders, we must take being leaders of Integrity and truthfulness seriously because it is a matter of life and death for ourselves and for those we lead. Choose life! Choose Integrity; choose honesty!
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