Over the last few months I’ve been praying some H’s for leaders:

Humble, Holy, Honest, Hungry and Hustle

In this post, let’s focus on “Honest.”

I’m beginning to wonder if honesty is still the best policy for lots of folks, or has it been replaced with some other policies?

Such as:

  • Looking good is the best policy
  • Being liked is the best policy
  • Always being right is the best policy
  • Winning at any price is the best policy
  • Making the most money is the best policy
  • Being popular is the best policy
  • Not looking like you’ve failed is the best policy
  • Keeping your position and power base is the best policy

We probably have all heard the phrase, “Honest Abe” referring to President Abraham Lincoln. Why was he known as Honest Abe?

I found this on Google:

He earned a reputation for honesty while working the circuit as a lawyer. As Richard Carwardine writes in his Lincoln biography,  “The nickname ‘Honest Abe’ was not the fabrication of party publicists but a mark of the universal respect in which he was held as a lawyer of scrupulous honesty.”

I have a sense that we’re losing the value of commitment and substituting it with convenience and comfort. Lots of  people don’t feel obligated to follow through with commitments and promises any more. In a way this is deceitful and dishonest leading people to believe that what you said or promised is not really true. Over time this will result in people not trusting much of what you said or promised. In the long run it hurts everyone.

As a kid did one of your parents ever promise something and then not follow through, but had what they thought were good reasons for not delivering on the promised? And as a kid did you find yourself saying with a high degree of frustration,

“But you promised!”

If this happens over and over, it undercuts the ability to trust people. Too many people say they will do something, but feel no obligation to follow through and do what they said they would do. People promise to show up and then don’t. Not only do they not show up, but they don’t tell you they’re not showing up.  Committing to something doesn’t seem to mean what it used to mean. I think it’s an accepted form of dishonesty—no sense of obligation to be good for your word.

Here are a few verses which I often think about and pray over asking for His help to be a man of honesty and integrity.

“Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverb 20:28 The Message

I don’t want to be so truthful that I’m not loving; but, at the same time, I don’t want to be so loving that I’m not truthful. In fact, it’s not very loving at all to intentionally lead someone to trust what you say when you know you really didn’t mean it.

“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests and not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.” Luke 6:26 The Message

“…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,” Acts 20:20 ESV

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:27  ESV

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ,” Ephesians  4:15 ESV

Over the years I’ve heard statements such as:

I’ll give you a call next week—But no call comes.

Let’s go to lunch; I’l be in touch—It sounded like a nice thing to say, but you seldom hear back from them.

I’ll have this for you on Thursday—Will you follow through regardless of the cost to you?

I’ll work on this later today—Will you, or are you just trying to get someone off your back?

Let me think and pray about that and get back to you—Are you really going to pray about it and get back, or is it a delay tactic?

This is something we could consider at some point—Are you truly intending to consider it?

I’ll get back to you on this idea—Will you?

This is something we could do down the road—Do you really mean this and will you make a note and circle back with the person suggesting it?

I think we have a serious problem with “Truth Decay.”

Not only is this so in the world of government and the market place, but, unfortunately, in the world of Christian leadership as well.

Here are a few practical ideas that help us honor Jesus and do better at having honesty as our best policy:

1. Say what you mean and mean what you say

2. Don’t make promises you have no intention of following through on

3. Pray before making a commitment to something or someone

4. Under promise and over deliver rather than over promise and under deliver

5. Be good for your word. Let you word be your bond

6. If your word is your bond, you’ll always keep a promise.

7. I swear on a stack of Bibles—No need to say this, just tell the truth and do what you said you’d do. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

8. Cross my heart and hope to die—What would happen if people really died when not being truthful?

How about making “Honesty the Best Policy” and rebuilding trust with your family, your co-workers and your church family?