I was working in a job a while back that I somewhat enjoyed. And because I had small successes, I thought I was the best thing that ever happened to that company. I thought I knew everything, and there certainly wasn’t anyone around that was about to prove me wrong.
When I look back at myself (and not that I would have admitted it then) I became very self-reliant, and maybe even a bit self-righteous.
Because in my mind I could do no wrong, I gave myself permission to create my own ethical standards. I decided that I could do certain things that were not necessarily the right things to do. The result… I fell flat on my face, and got a pretty rude wake-up call in my life.
As I continue searching for the management and leadership wisdom from the Proverbs, this is a good example of the next principle that I come across. The idea is that if you’re smart, you’ll walk a righteous walk, and when you do there is certainly a rich reward for it. Let’s first take a look at what it says…
So you will walk in the way of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
First of all remember that this comes from a section of text that speaks about the value of wisdom. So when the statement starts off with “so”, then it means that you must wrap this around the rest of the context of this text. Therefore, this tells us that because of wisdom we will be able to “walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.”
In other words when you not only have knowledge (or information), but also the wisdom to know what to do with it, THEN you will have what you need to make the right decisions. Now pay close attention here, because when I say the “right” decisions, I don’t only mean that they’re the correct ones, but also the ethical ones.
There should be no question these day after all of the Enron, WorldComm and other major corporate scandals that unethical behavior may be able to get you ahead in the short-term, but it will eventually catch up with you. So the secret of true success is not how long you can continue to profit from unethical behavior and get away with it, but how tall you can stand with strong moral values.
This portion of scripture finishes with a very strong statement about what happens to the upright and those with integrity compared to the wicked and treacherous. Let’s face it, if nothing else, the ethical or upright side will always get to live with a clean conscience about how they achieved their success.
To me the main question here is more about where you get your ethical and moral standards. What do you believe when it comes to moral values and ethics? Is everything relative, or is there a moral absolute? If you’re not sure, and I mean absolutely, 100% sure that you know what your ethical standards are based on, then you should really find out. You must know why you believe what you believe, and how that knowledge and wisdom fits into and guides your life.
In this section of text, Solomon knows what his source of wisdom and moral values is and where it comes from. Therefore he can make definitive statements about the effects of walking upright according to those standards. If his standards were not absolute, then they would be always shifting around by every wind and wave that comes by.
It’s like trying to solve a math problem where one of the numbers keeps changing. The answer is always going to change with it. Solomon knew what the results of walking upright were, because he knew that the Source of his wisdom was not changing.
So my questions to you today are this…
- What is the source of your wisdom?
- Is it reliable and sure and unchanging?
- Are you willing to bet your life on it?
- Once you have identified your source for your ethical standards, then how much are you living up to them?
- Would you say that you are walking upright and blameless in all of your dealings with the people that report to you as well as the people that you report to?
- Do you feel like you have anything to hide?
- How effective can you be in your role as a leader if you are walking in any way but completely upright?
- What you you need to fix and get right starting right now, today?
Oh, and to finish the personal story that I started with… After falling on my face, I did some real soul-searching, and realized that I was really missing something important in my life. When I found it I realized that I had to take my eyes off of myself, and focus more on God, and then I was able to create a true standard for success in my life.
Like Solomon, I know where my source of wisdom is, and it’s made all of the difference in my life. Even by worldly standards I would be considered quite successful in many ways, but more importantly I’ve been successful in the eyes of my Lord and Savior. Amen.
See more from the management by God series!