Credibility Crisis

I haven’t committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.
Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins,
answering accusations that he failed to pay his taxes

To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.
Edward R. Murrow


Newspaper headlines, op-ed columnists and your favorite television news anchor all tell the same story: people have lost faith in their institutions and the individuals who run them. Why? Because too many times in recent days, we have read of politicians, CEOs or other leaders that have exchanged power, control and manipulation for trust, honesty and respect. And if we allow this display of self-interest to continue to motivate our actions, the result will be an even further breakdown of character, moral integrity and trustworthiness.

One of the acid tests of true leadership is credibility. Credibility forms the foundation not only of leadership but of relationships. Credibility gives the leader the authority to lead as it builds trust and loyalty within your organization or ministry. Credibility facilitates a spirit of cooperation and teamwork, as you are recognized by your commitment to honesty, integrity and fairness.

One of the by-products of credibility is increased influence. The more confidence people place in you and your leadership the greater influence you will have. Cavett Roberts has observed; “If my people understand me, I’ll get their attention. If my people trust me, I’ll get their action.”

Your credibility is not the result of a position or title. It isn’t gained in a seminar, symposium or workshop. Credibility is a lifestyle, not a single event; a pilgrimage rather than an incident. There are no shortcuts to credibility, as it is only earned over time and sadly, as we well know, it can al be lost in a moment with a careless word, an inappropriate action or an indiscretion. Image and reputation is what people think you are; credibility determines what you really are.

If credibility is to be the hallmark of our lives and our leadership, we need to make the following commitments daily:

1.  I will do what I say.
Are you the same person, no matter who you are with or what the circumstances?

2.  I will live what I teach.
Despite the difficulty, can others model your behavior as well as your words?

3.  I will be honest with others.
Whatever the personal cost, are you committed to absolute honesty?

4.  I will put what is best for others ahead of what is best for me.
Do you make decisions that are best for you when another choice would benefit others?

5.  I will be genuine, transparent, authentic and even vulnerable.
Is the “visible” you and the “real” you consistent?

Your leadership isn’t a place of position as much as it is the positioning of character. And credibility is the distinguishing mark of character.

Carole Mayhall summarized well the message of credibility; “The how of being people worth listening to is by letting our lives be filled with God Himself. The why of being people worth listening to is because we are His and He wants us to radiate Him.” As we walk more passionately with the Savior our lives will impact others with the life-changing message of the gospel. And only as credibility characterizes our conduct will others listen to that message. Martin Luther, the great reformer pronounced a brief, but expressive eulogy at the funeral of Nicholas Haussmann, a pastor at Zwickau: “What we preach, he lived.” Could a similar commentary be spoken of our leadership or our walk with the Savior?

Stay the Course,

Dr. Greg Morris


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