Читать онлайн «The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth»
If you doubt this, consider the international outrage that resulted during the trial and conviction of Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. The field of coaching is not historically defined as a traditional profession (although many today would consider it one). Yet coaches carry immeasurable leadership responsibilities as role models and teachers who guide our children and young people in their development, which of course has a significant and lasting impact on the public welfare. Thus what is understood as public flourishing is composed of innumerable interconnected fields, and it is therefore crucial to engage and discuss the necessity of, qualities for, and responsibilities that make up the societal leadership that Christian men and women must bring to bear upon our world.
However, if we fail to acknowledge the uniqueness of the roles of leaders and professionals compared to those of nonprofessionals, then our communities will never be able to deal, in a more direct way, with the ethical and moral requirements that must be upheld by our professionals and leaders. Yes, there are privileges to leadership, and those with privileges must be held accountable. A great problem has arisen from instances in which some leaders have become divorced from ethical and moral behavior, and other leaders lack answerability for their mishandling of public “goods.” In part this is due to the continued blurring of the lines between the qualities that constitute leaders and their accompanying duties and ethical responsibilities.
Any conversation about moral leadership must also include the topic of personal character. On this subject there is an interesting line of questioning to consider: Do we believe it is more likely that a good person will perform leadership functions better than a bad person? Do we experience people who are good at their vocational duties as equally good people? Is there any connection between moral character and the performance of one’s job, vocation, or calling? Do good people make better parents, spouses, citizens, or neighbors?
The answer that is assumed in the majority of our codes and standards of ethics specifically for professionals is a resounding, “Yes!” Yes, personal character does matter in the performance of the duties and responsibilities of leadership. Yes, a good person will also be a good doctor, coach, or lawyer. Yes, a good person will also be a good parent, spouse, citizen, or neighbor.
As may be already quite evident, the leadership tasks of servant leaders, because of the power inherent in directing the actions of others, contain a specifically ethical dimension that is fundamental to their nature and function. Leaders can serve the public good well, only if those individuals routinely act in ways that supremely promote the specific public good for which their particular leadership position exists. Further, leaders make a positive impact, only if they are prepared to sacrifice their own personal gain, monetary or otherwise, for that good. Last, leaders serve the common good only if they are appropriately vigilant in ensuring that members of their own peer group overwhelmingly conform to this moral ideal even when self-sacrifice is required. If these conditions exist, excellence as a leader or professional is never a matter of mere technical expertise or facility, nor is the attainment of a certain preferred status primarily a matter of personal success. One can be very proficient, highly regarded, and well rewarded, yet remain a failure as a leader. Thus, leadership positions in our society must provide the means for both moral fulfillment and productive flourishing. Not just one, but both of these objectives must be uniformly valued and pursued. We must develop leaders who are just as moral as they are effective. One cannot supersede the other.
Today, setting standards and guidelines for moral and ethical conduct that is accompanied by moral self-realization is something we must reconsider. When leaders or people with great responsibility in our societies fail, either morally or ethically, how should we respond? Unfortunately, there are ample examples of moral failures in our leaders, more cases than we would perhaps like to admit. The round-the-clock news cycle keeps us ever informed of the moral lapses of our public figures. Yet how do we as a society deal with these issues? There is now an industry of specialists in “crisis management” who swoop into these circumstances to do “damage control” or manage the “fallout.” Routinely, pundits suggest taking a standard tack in these situations. In short, clients are counseled to confess, ask for forgiveness in some nationally televised or published interview, then move on.
Authentic confession is the acknowledgment of and agreement with the truth of a situation. It is aligning oneself with the real state of affairs. To confess in a responsible manner is often the correct response to all misjudgments and offenses. How this is done requires genuine reflection and wisdom. Why this is done, especially when it involves public figures, is a more complicated matter. Often it seems a public confession is merely an attempt to take the “air” out of the media uproar and allow the guilty party to “look forward” to the resumption of his or her position and authority. The question that rarely seems to be asked in these situations is: How, and under what conditions, can such a person be trusted again? This question proceeds from an idea that the authority that empowers leaders to act in our society rests on the previous demonstration of moral judgment and good behavior. How else are leaders to direct activities toward the common good if they do not demonstrate moral knowledge and behavior themselves? Celebrity alone will not suffice.
A brief example of this conundrum might help illustrate the importance of this point. Some may not remember, or care to recall, the significant debate surrounding the question of whether President Clinton’s ability to lead the nation was irreparably injured after it was discovered he had engaged in and then lied about an inappropriate sexual relationship. All the many and varied opinions and positions regarding the scandal, the investigation, and the aftermath are not the concern here. What is important is the shift that seems to have occurred in the public consciousness: a partition was erected between a person’s leadership ability in “public” office and his or her “personal” character as a human being.
It was proposed that Clinton was able to “compartmentalize” his life, separating the troubles of his private life from the responsibilities of his public office. In some measure, it appears the majority of the American citizenry and its elected officials in the Senate agreed with this proposal. As a result, in the majority of Americans’ social consciousness, personal character has now been either marginalized or largely separated from leadership responsibilities. As long as you can “get the job done” in public, it matters little what kind of person you are in private.
This is a relatively new and troubling development. The idea is troubling primarily because it stems from an assumption that is blatantly false. A fact we learned from the Clinton case—and the Nixon case before that, and from countless similar but perhaps less dramatic instances—was that who our leaders “are” existentially, morally, psychologically, and religiously in private directly affects the way they handle their public responsibilities. To argue otherwise is to choose to ignore the facts. Clinton’s and Nixon’s personal character and private behavior did affect their ability to govern in public. It is simply a fantasy to believe that one can fully separate and distinguish the moral demands of their leadership responsibilities from the integrity of their personal character. Human beings simply are not made to function as disintegrated persons. Moral leadership and personal integrity are conjoined, and for good reason. To disconnect them is to court disaster, both personally and publicly.
Another way to get at this issue of moral obligation within our societal leadership roles is to consider a book by John Maxwell entitled There Is No Such Thing as “Business” Ethics.
What does Maxwell mean by this title? He unpacks the concept in several ways. First, Maxwell states that the only principle that really matters for ethical conduct in business is one that is not peculiar to business (or any other profession or occupation)—the “Golden Rule,” commonly understood as doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Second, Maxwell believes that anything short of this ethical standard, and especially anything peculiar or specific to a given profession, will not and cannot provide the moral character necessary to bring people to in fact “do the right thing” within their vocational practices. The point Maxwell drives home again and again is that one has to become the kind of individual who can treat others in a loving, altruistic manner in order for the Golden Rule to appear in the first place. It cannot be legislated in policy. It has to be incarnated in people.
Since this kind of ethical character is not routinely required or developed in our leaders and professionals, industries have instead created what we call “professional ethics.” These are policies that have been developed in our contemporary context to deal with specific circumstances and situations, but rarely if ever do they deal with actually “being” an ethical person. Instead, “professional ethics,” or “business ethics,” only educates people about ways to stay out of trouble with the law, fellow professionals, and customers or clients. Ethics have come to be defined only as legal behaviors or practices, not qualities of character in moral agents who are tasked to pursue and achieve general flourishing and common welfare.
This was demonstrated during the “tech bubble,” in which several Wall Street securities firms were fined huge sums by the SEC for misleading clients with investment advice. Yet five years earlier, the SEC commissioned a study on compensation and demanded across the board “ethics training” for investment brokers.
One wonders if regulators truly believed such “ethics training” would prevent breaches of fiduciary responsibilities and unethical treatment of clients. Is it knowledge alone that will stem the tide of unethical abuse?
In fact, neither the SEC nor any other governing agency has the power to achieve what ethics training must actually produce in practice. What all our ethics training courses, both secular and religious, fail to do is forge moral agents. The result of any course of study in ethics must be both the knowledge
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