Character is the real safeguard

In the last month the UK media has focussed an obsessive and unrelenting spotlight on the mis-behaviour of leaders in two of the largest international NGOs, Oxfam and Save the Children. Ignoring the 99% of the good work these agencies do, people are outraged by individuals failing to live up to their organisation’s values.

We shouldn’t be surprised by such human failing. After all the church has more than its fair share of appalling examples of financial corruption, sexual abuse and the misuse of power. As Christians we are far from immune from such temptations.

What is the answer? There is certainly a role for the standard systems-based responses, such as implementing ‘safeguarding policies’. But we know people by-pass policies. To get to root causes we need to go deeper – to address the human condition. With God’s presence, we need to face the flaws in our own character, so that we can withstand temptation and live out our aspired values.

So as Christian organisations, instead of building bigger, we should be digging deeper. Instead of focusing on growth, we should cultivate the vital virtues of humility, generosity, forgiveness, courage and self-discipline.

  • What one thing could you do this week in your organisation to cultivate such holy virtues?


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