CLERGY CORNER: Don’t let it spoil!

Posted on 23 August 2018 by LeslieM

Damaged goods, spoiled food and a tarnished reputation each have one thing in common. That which was once purposeful and beneficial has lost its value, and become undesirable and unusable. The rise of the #MeToo movement has revealed the spoilage in character of men who were once respected by the public. Their inability to maintain integrity has caused pain, and brought shame, to their victims of harassment and abuse. Some viewed as leaders in their fields have been diminished in the public view for the numerous accusations from women, and men, who have found the courage to come forward. Many of their friends, acquaintances, business partners and fans have distanced themselves, or turned against them. They have learned the painful truth that the dirty deeds done in the dark eventually become exposed by the light.

This past week the issue hit closer to home as a grand jury report out of Pennsylvania revealed numerous instances of abuse at the hands of clergy. How tragic and disheartening when men in positions of power and influence are accused of heinous actions. How much more reprehensible when the victims are innocent and impressionable children. When the perpetrators are from the ranks of those who should be champions of morality and ethics, the pain is indescribable and the damage incalculable.

Centuries ago King Solomon made a powerful observation that speaks to this propensity. In Ecclesiastes 10:1, he noted “Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.”

Admittedly, the actions of many of the accused amount to much more than a little folly, but they perhaps began as small indiscretions and seemingly tiny desires. The point is that they resulted in spoilage of character and loss of integrity. Anyone who gives thought and expression to every desire that appeals to them will soon come to ruin. Self-control and maintenance of integrity is necessary for all of us to enjoy healthy relationships with our fellowman.

No one wants to be involved with a person they cannot trust. Despite the erosion of morality in society, the world still needs and longs for people of integrity. In a recent Leadership Retreat in which I took part, we, the students, were reminded that integrity is the essential component looked for in leaders whether they be in the military, business or the church. Dwight Eisenhower once stated that “Without (integrity), no real success is possible no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army or in an office.” And in Proverbs 11:3, it is noted that “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.”

The maintenance of our integrity begins with self-awareness. We should be honest with ourselves about ourselves. As we learned in the retreat, “A few moments of brutal honesty are worth a lifetime of self-deception.” Self-awareness should lead to self-management. What do we need to control, correct or cancel? Self-management then leads to character, competence and credibility.

It is easy to trust people who are disciplined, honest and considerate of others. The No. 1 word of the Year in 2005, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, was “Integrity.” The scandals of the day brought the issue to the forefront of the public discourse. It may well be near the top of the list in these days. King Solomon viewed it as precious and as valuable as the perfumer’s ointment.

The lesson of his observation is that we should maintain our character by guarding our integrity. We can’t allow flies to intermingle with it and cause it to putrefy. Don’t let it spoil!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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