Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things,I will make it right.”“You have not cheated or oppressed us,”they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.” – 1 Samuel 12:1-4
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” –Proverbs 11:3
First Samuel chapter 12 is considered Samuel’s farewell address to the Israelites after they rejected him and chose Saul to be their first worldly King and leader. Samuel was their God-appointed and anointed leader. Until then, God led the nation through the priests and prophets of godly men and women. But Israel wanted to be like the ungodly nations. We know very well what happened with King Saul and with many other subsequent kings that reigned in Israel throughout her biblical history.
Samuel departing speech – especially that portion of the passage according to my estimation is the greatest leadership talk on integrity. Samuel, who was Priest, Prophet and King as the same time was the epitome of integrity. Others in his caliber were Daniel,Joseph, etc.
Today, integrity is one of the missing ingredients of great leadership. I read and watch with dismay about people eager to have title and position of authority without any iota of trust in them and yet people follow and fight for them.
According to the legendary leadership author and coach, Dr. John Maxwell, “title and position does not make one a leader but integrity. Integrity allows a leader to carry a leadership authority. Title and position never will.”
Personally, I define integrity as“doing what one promised he or she would do.” So there can be true or false integrity. Integrity in moral sense is true ethical behavior, genuine morality and consistent honesty.
In today’s leadership space, there are so many folks with false integrity. True integrity should be a strong requirement to choose leaders and lack of it should disqualify a leader.
According to Dr. John Maxwell, when people follow a leader, there are 3 questions they ask:
- Do you sincerely love me?
- Can you truly help me?
- Can I genuinely trust you?
Principled people will not follow a leader for a long period of time that they cannot trust or a leader who lacks integrity.” [Emphasis added is mine].
Therefore, for those of you who are so eager or aspiring to lead, the first responsibility is to be a good person –cultivate genuine character, have principle and develop trust and courage before seeking to be a leader. If you can do that, then you can qualify to lead others.
To lead begins with true integrity and trust. You cannot lead people that don’t trust you and you don’t love. You cannot be leader if you harbor any personal desires or selfish interests.Leading is about shared goals and common objectives.
Sadly, most of what we have today and those who parade themselves as leaders is simply laughable.
C. K. Ekeke, M. Div., Ph.D.
Public Theologian, Author and Consultant
Leadership Wisdom Institute