Or should I say, heroes fallen from grace, and there have been many, many, many over the years. But I’m talking right now about the recent ethics investigation involving Generals David Petraeus and John Allen.
Hopefully there have been no security breeches involving Petraeus’s pillow talk with Paula Broadwell, or between Petraeus and Allen and mutual friend Jill Kelly. But the fact is, incalculable damage has already been done. Not to our national security necessarily, but to our national morale.
Don’t most of us heave a heavy sigh of grief when we read such headlines? How sad that people with such sterling reputations should be investigated (and potentially fall) over such avoidable indiscretions.
The sad thing is, some of us don’t sigh with grief. Some of us, especially impressionable, often cynical young people and young adults (17-35 year olds), let lose a great, big belly laugh. How hysterically pathetic…how perfectly predictable! they say. And what does it matter, they wonder.
That is the saddest part of all: the way these scandals affect our youth…tomorrow’s leaders. Leaving them with the impression that this is life—people placing personal pleasure above the common good, and it’s okay.
This may be life, but it’s not okay.
How do we combat this trend? By lecturing our young people? Hardly. Beware the thread-worn phrase: “Do what I say, not what I do.” Here are some tips:
Take a stand against any ethical or moral infidelity in your own thoughts and behavior. Ask God to show you where these areas are.
Trust God to help you in times of temptation…and take hold of that help. 1 Cor 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure it.”
Live with integrity. If you aren’t sure what this means in practical terms, learn about the Apostle Paul’s life as it unfolds in his New Testament epistles, and talk over what you read with a Christian pastor or friend.
Remember that unless you are living like a hermit, you are ALWAYS setting an example, ALWAYS on display, every moment of every day. The only question is, are you setting a good example or a bad one?
Don’t be afraid to have a conversation (notice I didn’t say lecture!) about ethics with the young people in your life.