“No one in my master’s house is more important than I am.” ~Joseph
(Genesis 39:9a CEV).
It seems the fall of prominent Christian leaders has become a weekly news item.
In so many words, personal integrity becomes the tagline of each story. Compared to the more visible, celebrated pastors who stumble, most of us will never have that span of spiritual influence. But I can guarantee you have someone watching you to see if your Christianity is real or not. And by “real” I mean: is it integrous? Am I a whole person or living a fractured spiritual life?
And the real question might be: what will keep me honest with myself? In the church world, we say everything from accountability partners to small groups to professional therapists to whatever.
But in the end, we will only be as real as we want to be. Accountability only works for those who want to be accountable. Let’s not kid ourselves. I once had a conversation with someone who had undergone years of therapy, but still couldn’t face the pain of change needed and told me simply, “I discovered it was easy to b.s. my therapists.”
But I wonder if Joseph was on to something that seems so counter-intuitive and self-aggrandizing?
In rebuffing Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39, Joseph said frankly: “No one in my master’s house is more important than I am.” Now think about that with your own leadership life: what if you are so important to what God wants to do in and through you, that oddly enough, that kind of importance makes it no longer just about you?
Years ago a worship song came out with the lyric, “I want to love the things You love, I want to hate the things you hate…Teach me the fear of the Lord.” At the time, I wondered if the average irreligious person who had stumbled into our church would find that more than a little jarring, as in: “I didn’t think God hated; I thought God was love?” Or for those who had left a legalistic, “God-is-pissed-off-at-me” church culture, was this a reinforcement of everything they disliked about religion?
Truth is, there are serious things that God does hate, like hypocrisy.
This brings us back to our subject. Maybe if we realized how important we are, it would not have the effect of entitlement as in “I’m really important so I should be treated importantly”, but rather the fear of God, as in “I’m really important to God…He gave His life for me, so I can’t make any space for hypocrisy.”
That means getting honest with myself when I’m struggling with something that jeopardizes my integrity…and getting any and all the help I need as quickly as possible, whether that’s professional, a trusted friend, or whomever.
But honestly, no one can make me do that but me. But it still makes me wonder: what if all leaders thought, “I’m so important I can’t afford to mess around with a double life.”