It is said that wisdom is knowing the right path to take, but integrity is actually taking that path. In 2009, we learned that that many of our "Hero's," who seemed to know the right path and reaping the benefits from it, were unable maintain the integrity to continue on it.
This bothers me. Not so much because I believe these people are any better than me. Not because their talent makes them incapable of making mistakes. In fact, I have defended some of these individuals. Not their actions, but defended them against ignorant people who probably will never have any idea the temptations of this level of success, wealth, and fame brings. The primary reason that these situations bother me so much is because of the level of influence these "Hero's" have.
You may be aware of the passage written in the Bible, "To whom much is given, from him, much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." These were words of wisdom given by The Ancient Prophet to His disciples.
What was the purpose of these words of wisdom spoken to His followers over 2000 years ago? This was written when there was no TV, no internet, no magazines, no Fat Head posters. He did not have to worry about Peter, John, or James, doing something stupid and being projected in the media across the world. These words were written because He understood the level of influence that these followers would eventually have. And that because of the importance of this influence, and deep responsibility given to it, they were held to a higher standard and higher level of accountability.
The more talent, fame, success, and wealth you are given, the more you should be expected to do what is right. That makes sense doesn't it? Unfortunately our "celebrity" and "pop" culture has instead given these people a ticket to think that they are above these responsibilities, making them think that the world owes them for having a great talent. But according to arguably the most influential man to ever walk the earth, because of the blessings they have been given, they owe more to the world.
Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair's children will grow up with out a father because he made a choice to choose himself over his faith and his family. I was a huge fan of Steve McNair. He was one of the most gritty and tough quarterbacks that ever played the game. McNair was a great leader on the field, but not so different as many of us, had a hard time transferring this leadership off the field.
I have a firm belief that if you cannot lead yourself and your family, don't try to lead anyone else. If you do, the hole in your leadership ability will become painstakingly obvious. In McNair's case, it was lethal.
And Tiger....Oh Tiger...I don't even want to write about him because I'm sure you are tired of hearing about him. But I am not here to attack Tiger and talk about how stupid he is or how I can't believe he let himself get involved in these actions.
But here is an example of a person who did not understand himself. He, like many other high level achievers, more than likely has an obsessive personality. He is a perfectionist. If he wasn't, I doubt he would be as successful as he is in his sport.
Unfortunately, we may not of understood that your personality crosses over to everything you do in life. If you are obsessive in one thing, you will be obsessive in other things. A person who understands this put up barriers in his life to avoid getting trapped in these situations.
I don't believe it was Tiger's intention to become this involved with this many women. I believe it was something that he let himself get sucked into and it took him over. And like it always does, blew up on him and has become one of the biggest falls from grace that we have ever witnessed.
I am pleading with the great athletes. I am pleading with those of you who have been placed on a pedestal. I am pleading with those of you who command great influence in whatever it is you do. I am pleading to those of you who live your life on a stage. I am pleading with you to make a commitment to being a great example, a much needed role model to all whom you influence.
Our nation is starving for real leaders. Those of you who have the courage to take this responsibility on, know that you will be scrutinized, your life will be under a microscope, and people will not leave a stone unturned trying to find something to mark against your character. When you are at this point, you know your character is helping others make better decisions in their own lives.
For the young people, take the time to learn about what true leadership is. Do not get wrapped up in all the materialistic, it's all about your image, bling bling crap. Dare to be different. Dare to stand up for what is good and right. You may not be the center of attention if you do this, but in the end, your life and legacy will be honored and cherished as someone who cared enough about others to do the right thing with their own life.
Greek Philosopher Aristotle summed up our choices as, "We become what we are as persons by the decisions we ourselves make." Preacher and evangelist D.L. Moody used this to help him think about the repercussions of his decisions; "I've always tried to live with the following rule: don't do what you wouldn't feel comfortable with reading about in the newspaper the next day."
And finally I'll leave you with some very good and simple advice from my friend and NFL offensive lineman, Jamar Nesbit. He once told me, "Jeff, it's easier to do good than it is to do bad."
...Amen to that.
Take a lesson from some our "Hero's" in 2009 and make a commitment to be an example that others need this year. Our nation, our youth, our children, and our entire world needs you.