How's Your Personal Character?

INTEGRITY---It's sadly missing today.

   People feel they can't trust anyone anymore.

Business leaders can't trust their employees; employees can't trust their leaders.

Some well-known church leaders have failed miserably in their integrity.

Political candidates talk, but do their lives match their talk?


Integrity is hard to find because it's so easy to compromise. We compromise integrity by:

LYING, saying something is true when we know it isn't.

LUSTING, inappropriate sexual thoughts.

LOITERING, hanging out with the wrong crowd.

LOOTING, taking something that isn't ours.

Daniel is a great model of leadership integrity. His work ethic was flawless, both in his performance and perspective. And the king promoted him to the top position in the kingdom.


As long as Daniel did his job, everything was fine. Instead, he excelled above the others, and things changed---dramatically. The managers under Daniel and the two vice presidents, formed an investigation committee looking for hidden dirt in Daniel's life. They stalked him, talked about him to others, gained access into his computer to check his files, went through his desk, checked out his closets, unlocked his iPhone, and who knows what else.

They found NOTHING. ZERO. NADA---no hanky-panky, no secret funds, no fraud, no hushed cover ups, no corruption, no scandal in the making, no goofing off on company time. Daniel met his deadlines on time. He left work when he should not when he felt like it. He didn't make it a habit to take extended lunches on company time. The guy was squeaky clean which reveals another quality of integrity---A Blameless Character.

How's your personal character?

Are you reliable? Negligent? Getting by with things you shouldn't?

Do you keep your promises to your kids? All the time?

Are you truthful when your spouse asks about your spending, your time?

Do you answer emails, texts? Return calls when you say you will?

Are you careful where you go, who you are with?

Are you personally holy?




Some believe personal character has little to do with leadership. Do you agree? If so, then ask yourself these questions:

Do people of low character influence and inspire you to action?

Do you get along well with people of low character?

Do you admire people of low character?

Would you welcome them leading you?

Like it or not, agree or disagree, character counts in leadership. Warren Bennis, who studied and wrote extensively on leadership, said, “Leadership is character in action.”  Character is what people will remember about you more than your brilliance, ingenuity, competency, and energy.

Integrity is one of the greatest qualities of a leader's character. Integrity (or lack of it) is a leader's legacy, what people remember about them. Integrity doesn't cut ethical corners, tell subordinates to lie, cheat, falsify records, shift blame to others, or compromise under pressure. Integrity doesn't fear the light of scrutiny.

Daniel was a leader who incarnated integrity. At the age of 80, he was a VP, a top-level position under Darius, the Persian king. Power was at his disposal. He had respect and elite status in this God-hating Persian system.

Daniel maintained a fabulous work ethic. Daniel 6:3 says that he excelled among the other leaders and managers so much that the king planned to promote him over the entire kingdom. Daniel stood out like a healthy thumb on a withered hand. He wasn't like everyone else. He did his work well because he saw it well. When review time, Daniel got promoted.

  • How's your work? Do you do it well? Are you the best leader you can be?
  • How's your attitude? Granted we all have bad days, but is every day a bad day? Is the problem a bad day or a bad life?
  • Are you easy to work for or with? How would others rate your leadership performance?  
  • Are you a tough guy, the boss, control freak, or a servant leader who is considerate and respectful of others and their ideas?
  • How's your spiritual perspective toward your leadership? Does God fit into your leadership role every day? How?



“In a president, character is everything,” writes Peggy Noonan, speechwriter for both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. She continued, “A president doesn't have to be brilliant. . . he doesn't have to be clever; you can hire clever. . . You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks. But you cannot buy courage and decency; you can't rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.”

What she says of a president is true of any leader regardless of their leadership responsibilities. Leadership character is not optional; it's essential. You dare not lead without it.

If one character trait stands out above the others, it's INTEGRITY. Embrace this one and you embrace many of the others. Integrity is wholeness . . . entireness. . . completeness . . . soundness. It's what personal health is to your body, what 20/20 vision is to your eyes. Integrity has nothing to hide. It's an open book.

Psalm 78:72 says of David, “And David shepherded them (Israel) with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” That's a perfect balance for a leader. David skillfully handled situations that had no rules, no boundaries, no precedence. And in his character, he had a heart of integrity. He wasn't perfect; no leader is. But David was complete, whole, sound.


·         Tells the truth every time, not just when it's convenient.

·         Means what it says and says what it means.

·         Is financially accountable, wise in handling money, especially another's.

·         Is personally reliable; it keeps its promises. When it says, “I'll meet you at 9:00, it's 9:00 not 9:05.

·          Is privately pure. No double life that causes shame and disgrace to the family if known.

“He who walks with integrity and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. . . will never be shaken.” (Psalm15)


When the greatest leader of all time came on the scene, hardly anyone noticed . . . or cared.

The obstetrician was the baby’s earthly father, the delivery room, an animal courtyard.

No protocol or pretension.

Angels weren’t flying about, only flies.

Important CEO’s or big names weren’t hovering around; only donkeys, some cows, sheep, maybe a camel, and a horde of barn mice.

He was born in lowliness, lived in meekness, died in humility, and yet raised from the dead in awesome splendor.

That’s Jesus, the One we magnify in our worship this Christmas . . . Jesus, the Name above all Names. . Jesus, our Redeemer. . .

Jesus, the prime example of a servant leader for leaders to follow.


What drives your success as a leader? You might think it’s your impressive skills. They are important, but the lack of skills is not what derails many leaders. Skills are too easy to learn.

When leaders fail to thrive, the culprit is often their leadership character, not their lack of skills.

Mark Miller uses the picture of an iceberg to illustrate leadership. 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water and 90% below. Let the part above represent leadership skills, the things leaders do and people see all the time (set the vision, establish goals, plan, resolve conflict). Let the part below, the unseen, represent leadership character, what a leader is on the inside.

90% of a leader’s effectiveness is determined by what’s below the waterline. Leadership character ultimately drives what a leader does and why they do it. It colors everything we do as a leader.

Many leaders spend most of their time and energy developing the 10%. They earn BBA/MBA degrees from prestigious universities, take in leadership seminars, hire professional consultants, whatever it takes to make them successful, good, prosperous in the 10% above the waterline.

Yet, little or no effort is spent developing the 90% of leadership character, who they really are as people. They’re like the man who built a nice house—beautiful, big, comfortable, loaded with luxuries. Foolishly the house was built on beach sand. You’ve heard the story. When the hurricane hit, the house collapsed, the valued client said “no,” the business went bankrupt, key people left the company, a marriage ended, the family fell apart, a life was shattered.

“Character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.” Henry Cloud.

The real stressors of life are not the business issues, but the character issues.

Character always rules


Character is the #1 issue in leadership. Howard Hendricks has said, “The greatest crisis in the world today is a crisis of leadership, and the greatest crisis of leadership is a crisis of character.”

            We see characterless leaders in corporations, like Enron, Andersen, Worldcom

            Characterless leaders in government like Richard Nixon

            Characterless leaders in athletics like Tiger Woods, Johnny Manziel

            Characterless leaders in finances like Bernard Madoff

            Characterless leaders in many marriages and families

            Characterless leaders in big churches and large ministries

These leaders didn’t fail in their competency; they excelled in what they did. They failed in their character. “99% of leadership failures are failures of character,” (General Norman Schwarzkopf.)

Servant leadership is character based. It deals with the heart, the center or inner core of our being from which our thoughts, actions, and habits flow. Servant leaders don’t just act differently. They are being transformed in their inner being which affects their leadership. It’s the inner life that counts.


by Dr. Fred C. Campbell

The name Robert Greenleaf is synonymous with servant leadership. For forty years he worked for AT&T in researched management, development, and education. He had a growing suspicion that the top-down, autocratic, command-and-control leadership style wasn’t working in U.S. institutions.

Greenleaf was captivated by the idea of a servant being the best leader. In a book entitled Servant Leadership, he wrote that “the great leader is seen as servant first and that simple fact is the key to his greatness.” Service comes before leadership.

Someone greater and smarter than Robert Greenleaf actually said it first. Before His death, Jesus told His team of disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant (emphasis a willingness to serve) and whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all” (emphasis on an obligation to serve). Then He defined His mission, “. . . not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) His leadership led Him to the Cross. It cost Him His life.

Great leadership isn’t primarily about methods, techniques, and skills. It’s not about titles, positions, corner offices, exquisite memberships in private clubs, tailored suits and luxury cars. GREAT LEADERS LEAD BEST WHEN THEY SERVE. SERVING MAKES A LEADER GREAT, BUT YOU MAY PAY A PRICE FOR SELF-DENIAL.


by Dr. Fred C. Campbell

Leadership is a risky business. The fine art of sailing an organization through stormy waters can endanger not only the leader, but also the followers on board.

E.J. Smith, Captain of the Titanic, knows. Foolishly ignoring six iceberg warnings, he ordered the crew “FULL SPEED AHEAD.” Why?

This would be the Captain’s final voyage before retirement and he wanted to arrive ahead of schedule.

On April 14, around 11:30 PM, a 100′ iceberg scraped the Titanic’s side, slicing open over 200′ of the ship. The boat immediately flooded with water. At 2:30 AM, the unsinkable ocean liner sank in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean with 1500 passengers, the Captain and crew. Only 712 survived.


Leaders are like captains. They set the direction, determine the speed, command the crew, and assume responsibility for those on board. When leaders (like Capt. Smith) take risks for their benefit only without regard for others, they chart a dangerous path to a collision.

Leadership is at its best when it moves from self-serving to self-sacrificial. It’s the way Jesus led, the world’s finest and only perfect leader for all time, for all organizations, for all people, for all situations.