Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity. If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Also, Tao Te Ching once said, “Power can be a strong aphrodisiac and intoxicant. It reveals the character of those who hold it. How they acquire it, how they exercise it, illuminates their character as few things can.”
In other words, if the leader is a person who has integrity, his or her people benefit. If the leader does not have integrity and does not know how to use power, so many people suffer.
In the Gospel, we hear of Herod. He loved to listen to John the Baptist because John knew what was right and what was wrong; he knew what was moral and immoral. Yet, Herod had no character. When Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist, he succumbed to a wrong request. That is why whatever our position in life is, three things we can do to build character:
- God sees everything. The test of a person who has true character is what the person does or decides even when no one knows or sees. That person also knows in the end, God sees everything.
- Think about others first. A true leader thinks about the welfare of other people first, but the truth is, since all our lives are intertwined, the good we show other people will always come back to us.
- Do the right thing. We have many options. Since we want results, there is always the temptation to shortcut the process. A person of character would opt to do the right thing. The results may be slow, but it has more intangible benefits.
That is why we strive to be people of character. Practice makes perfect: God sees everything; think of others’ welfare first; do the right thing. As you move up, remember also the saying, with great power comes great responsibility.