I definitely think it’s a sign of the times that our world is routinely rocked by scandal. It may be that we are on a morally downward slope, degrading more and more into complete moral free-for-all and absolute boundary-less-ness. Or, it may be that we are simply more attentive to the faults and foibles of public figures, with so many news outlets desperate for a juicy tidbit, a morsel of gossip to feed the voracious 24-hour news cycle. Sensation sells, and few things are more sensational than a person or organization who betrays the public’s trust for personal gain. Regardless of the reason, scandal has become sadly commonplace.
One touched me more deeply recently. A public service organization in the same city where I work has been accused of some heinous stuff…like federal indictment heinous. Using federal funds for personal purposes is a huge no-no. The person at the center of it all is someone I have worked with for years, a colleague whom I collaborated with on several projects and was very well-respected in our field. She’s not a friend per se, but definitely someone close enough to me that her accused actions hit me like a brick. How could she do this, and risk her job, reputation, and a career over 30 years in the making?
It was ironic that when I read the first article about the scandal my Pandora app chose to play Casting Crowns’ “Slow Fade”
. The chorus goes like this: It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away / a slow fade when black and white will turn to grey / thoughts invade, a choice is made / a price will be paid when you give yourself away / people never crumble in a day.
If you’ve never heard this song before, you owe it to your conscience to listen to it enough to memorize it. It’s my personal integrity soundtrack, a constant reminder that we are all vulnerable to the wiles of temptation.
I looked at the trouble my colleague has gotten into and I thought “what was she thinking?” I rushed to judge her. But the more I thought about it, she more than likely got caught into the slow fade. It begins with a thought, which becomes an attitude, which becomes an action, which becomes a habit, which becomes a character. What thoughts could have sparked this slow fade? Here’s a few I can think of:
- It could never happen to me
- I’d never get caught
- Others do much worse things
- I deserve better than what I’m getting
- I’m too powerful / in a hurry for the rules to apply to me
- I need this money/power/desire, and I don’t have time to get it the right way
I think the answer to resisting the slow fade is to focus ourselves and dedicate ourselves fully to a singular focus. The Slow Fade happens when our focus is diluted, when our worries become too heavy to handle. The key is to solidify our focus on God and His righteousness so intensely that we don’t have time to think on unethical things. There’s so much more to say on this, but Solomon wrapped it up in a nutshell:”Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” – Prov 10:9