- I’m scared by the fact that I too have the same leadership potential as the leaders at Penn State to make an incredibly misguided decision. I believe in our mission and I think it is bigger than any person or group of people. Heck, I think it’s eternal. I’m afraid that in the moment of crises I have the potential to entertain a decision that would keep the mission going while justifying my action as for the greater good. I hope if that ever happens, the leaders around me will see more clearly and call me to account (and sanity) and repentance.
- Integrity demands that my public image and my private behavior match. History is still out on how Joe Paterno will be remembered but one thing is sure; at one point there was a conversation between he and another leader where he was understood to endorse or even encourage handing the Sandusky problem internally. It’s humbling to me to think that a whole lifetime of work, regardless of how successful or full of integrity, could eventually be boiled down my worst decision. I’ve told my boys a thousand times; “Just do the right thing, every time, and people’s perceptions will take care of themselves.” There was at least one time in those hallowed football halls at Penn State when doing the right thing became subservient to preserving the reputation of the institution and that one time has become the defining aspect of the program. Numbers 32 gives us a sobering reminder when it says that our sin will eventually find us out. I’m so grateful for the Holy Spirit who leads me to repentance and confession before my sin causes my world to implode around me.
- Emotion is a poor stimulus for good decision making. My life isn’t going to change at all because of the Penn State sanctions. I watched them play a few times a year and I enjoyed the games. But, I also enjoy watching Bloomsburg University which is a great division II school that plays only 10 miles from my house. I didn’t define anything about me around Penn State football. However the emotionally charged reactions of the NCAA and others are making a horrible situation far worse. By varying degrees the NCAA created thousands of additional victims to this horrible situation. The problem is that creating new victims provides no justice or healing to the real victims. There is a legal process in full swing that will punish the wrong doers and that will be done in a way that minimizes the collateral damage and serves the victims. It’s utter folly to argue that the dismantling of one large football program (by those who competed against it) will serve to change the others. It is more likely that the NCAA was managing its own image by acting quickly, severely and decisively. Isn’t image management what started this whole thing to begin with?
- At the end of the day there is no excuse or substitute for leaders of organizations not to be intentional about transparency and accountability to selected folks from outside of their organizations. As a leader, I don’t need understanding as much as I need truth. It’s too easy to slip into group think. It’s too easy to justify insular thinking. Every leader needs a regular check up with those who will think beyond the emotion and passion of the issues to make sure their thinking is solid.
Our mission is singular; to help people meet God for life. My prayer is that God will continue to protect us from ourselves as we navigate the messiness of every day issues for his glory. I’m tempted to manage my image all to frequently. My prayer for myself this morning is that I will live out what we say so often around ebc…. we can either impress people with Christ in us; or we can try to impress them with us…. but we can’t do both. I want to do the former.