Jun 042018 1 Response

Get On Your Moral High Horse

In his book, Originals, Adam Grant reveals research that confirms what we already know–employers love employees who show initiative. If you want to make a name for yourself at a company, take initiative–make the call, fix the problem, take the lead, do the work. Those who do are consistently rewarded with praise, promotions, and raises.

Yet there is an exception. While employers love employees who take initiative, there is one area in which this trait is actually punished rather than praised. When you voice a concern about morals, ethics or fairness, you aren’t rewarded. You are punished. This is especially true when the concerns you raise are about sexism or racism. Grant writes, “When we climb up the moral ladder, it can be rather lonely at the top.” (Grant, Originals, 65).

When issues about character are raised, especially those about racism or sexism people get defensive. Rather than hearing an issue, they hear an attack. Instead of listening and considering, they shut down and fight back. While you raise the issue to attack a problem, they will respond by attacking you. It’s nearly guaranteed. (See: Trans-Affluent–The Great American Deception)

They’ll say:

  • “That’s so judgmental.”
  • “Do you think you’re better than everybody else?”
  • “Oh, I guess you’re perfect.”
  • “You’re just on your moral high horse.”

The message in our society is clear–don’t you dare raise a concern regarding ethics, morals, or character, especially issues about race. If you do, you will be attacked.

So what are we to do?

Giddy Up

If the inevitable response to voicing concerns regarding the character of companies, communities, and individuals is that we will be accused of mounting our moral high horses, we must be willing to say “giddy-up.”

Especially now, we can’t afford to keep silent. We can’t allow threats or intimidation from others to cause us to hold our tongues on issues of right/wrong, moral/immoral, or ethical/unethical. Character matters. The consequences of immorality among leaders, organizations, governments, and families are too great for us to silence any discussion on the tough topics. We must be willing to risk offense, judgment, and condemnation from others in order to give voice to the issues that matter.

I’d rather be called judgmental and let someone know their plight is seen than to be quiet and allow someone else to suffer alone.

It’s better to face a little criticism and raise important issues than to avoid tension but allow injustice to continue.

If they want to accuse us of being judgmental, so be it. Giddy up.

How to Mount Your Moral High Horse

While we should expect to be accused of being on our high horse, it’s vital that when we raise issues of character, race, and sexism that we do so with great care. Too often, these issues have been approached with a wrong heart and tone. Especially those in the church have acted as though we are morally superior to others and have done more harm than good for the issues we have raised.

However, just because we haven’t gotten things right in the past, doesn’t mean we should stop trying to do what is right for today. Although others will accuse us of being judgmental, we should ensure that our hearts and attitudes are right. We need to speak tough truths with tender hearts.

Tough Truths. We must have the courage to give voice to difficult topics. It’s not easy to talk about racism, sexism, or moral character. It’s not enjoyable to tell a friend a comment is over the line or that an action is offensive. But we must be willing to do so. It’s not enough to speak solely in broad terms of race or sex; instead, we must be willing to have the tense conversations with bosses, co-workers, friends, families, and even ourselves. We must speak tough truths.

Tender Hearts. While the truth should be tough, our hearts should be tender. We should speak with humility and brokenness. A tender heart has compassion on the person to whom the truth is spoken. Our desire should be to solve problems rather than to condemn people. We should disagree on issues without devaluing individuals. A tender heart is one who sees its own failure, admits its own sin, confesses its own need for grace, and quickly offers grace to others.

The Guarantee

I can assure you that if you speak about issues of character, especially against racism, sexism, adultery, and other issues, you will be attacked. Those who you think should praise you will punish you. Those who you think would defend you will remain silent. Speak anyway. Show a moral courage which empowers you to stand alone if you have to in order to speak the truth. Don’t be arrogant, even though some will call you such. Don’t consider yourself better than others, even though many will assume you do. But speak. With courage and conviction be willing to face whatever might come your way in order to honor what is right, noble, and necessary.

It’s true for pastors, parishioners, and presidents–speak the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

One Response to Get On Your Moral High Horse
  1. […] In this format of government, what do the words conservative and liberal mean when used in a mayor&#... kevinathompson.com/you-know-what-youre-saying

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