“I violated my values and it was wrong. I behaved shamefully.”

Those are the words of Christopher Correa, the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, recently convicted of hacking into the player personnel system of another major league team. He has lost his dream job, faces 46 months in prison and has been ordered to pay a fine of nearly $280,000.

What he would do if he could only turn back time and make another choice when faced with temptation to further his reputation as a winner! Too late; the secret is out.

How sadly often it is that we read very similar stories in the news:

  • imagesHead football coach Art Briles, a man of faith, whose decision to ignore, hide or discredit the stories of numerous women who reported sexual assaults by his football players, cost him his job and has cast a dark shadow over the outstanding reputation of Baylor University. He is not an exception; he is only the most public and recent of coaches to betray their own beliefs, and those who trusted him, for the sake of success.
  • images-1Closer to home for me, the former sheriff in my county of El Paso, Terry Maketa, who 4 years ago stood at the summit of our political scene due to his heroic leadership in battling devastating wildfires in the Colorado Springs area, had to leave office accused of sexual misconduct, financial impropriety and discriminatory hiring and firing practices. A local university political professor spoke for everyone when he said in disbelief, “Here you have this rising political star…and the next thing you know, he’s leaving office in disgrace.”

Men, these stories, which appear on a regular basis, smack me in the face. How could a man of integrity make such an awful error of judgment? How could a man who calls himself a Christian compromise every past victory or success, by choosing a character short-cut, in order to get a piece of power or praise? It’s almost beyond belief; until we remember, all of us have the capacity to make just one questionable decision to enhance our reputation, our influence or our wealth.

That’s all it takes, one choice, for the possibility of everything to collapsing. We don’t expect it to, because it hasn’t before. That kind of tunnel vision, or arrogance, is shocking when we see it in others. Are we toying with the same risk?

Someone has perceptively said, “Don’t just give people rules to follow; give them values to believe in.” I think that is remarkably insightful. The list of lifetime rules to follow can be almost limitless, and they can change depending on circumstances. But values are more encompassing; they don’t waver; they provide a foundation; they determine how we live our lives.

What are your values, the principles on which you have built your life, or at least intend to? I’ll bet some are:

  • Integrity
  • Dependability
  • Faithfulness
  • Humility

If we are honest, we know there are circumstances in which we have been, or might be, tempted to take one risk (which usually soon leads to the next one)  just to look or feel better. Men, I urge us all to regularly ask ourselves whether we are compromising any of those bedrock values for the more superficial “success” the world praises.

After his cheating was exposed, Correa lamented, that he is “overwhelmed with remorse and regret for my actions.”

Let’s decide that our words, actions and decisions, today, will not bring that kind of compromise of our values. Let’s commit instead, “I’ll never let that statement be true of me.”