Does a leader have to live a moral life to be a good leader? 

        One prominent Wall Street Journal writer says, “Everybody knows the culture is poisonous, and nobody expects that to change.” Is this, in part, due to our current leaders in government, in churches, in communities and in families? 

       We have examples of leaders making moral and immoral choices from the past and present, and can see the effects on the people they lead. The very definition of a leader is one that helps guide, influence, and induce people to action, whether good or bad. Leaders tend to base their decisions on their core values and virtues. This happens in all facets of their lives. They do not tend to have one set of core values for personal life and a separate set of core values for their public life. Obviously, we want someone who has the ability to make good decisions regardless of the situation. It applies to moral conduct as well as strategic and fiscal conduct. The scriptures tell us that this is especially important in our time period. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 tells us that perilous times are ahead, and that the moral conduct of the world will deteriorate at an alarming rate.

        Matthew 24:6 states that we can’t be moral, and yet immoral, at the same time. One of these attributes will ultimately dominate the other. 

       A scripture example of immorality affecting a leader’s constituents is King Solomon. He was such a righteous leader that he was granted great wisdom, and thus riches, from the Lord due to his charity and pure heart. Slowly, he let his pride, his love of women and money, and his lack of faith in the Lord affect his leadership and was basically fired.

        In today’s world, we see similar examples of moral misconduct that affect not only the immediate parties involved, but can extend to our entire nation. Look at the scandal going on with General Petraus. This immoral personal decision had far-reaching consequences and ultimately compromised the integrity and safety of our country.   

       On the other hand, there are leaders who have shown personal morality that was further proven by their political actions. In Genesis 39 we read about Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Joseph exemplified having righteous core values. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. She promised that there was no one around to spread word, but regardless Joseph denied her and fled from temptation. He was later blessed in all facets of his life because of his moral decision-making. 

       Does the choice in leaders today come from a generation that has rejected the past standards of choosing leaders that will push them to their full potential, a generation that does not hold leaders to certain standards? It is clearly stated in Mosiah 26:1-6 how such a generation works. We, the rising generation, have the ability to make new decisions, to look for those who can lead us forward righteously. We can raise our standards back up, and become what we wish to see in those who help guide us. 

       What do you think are some examples from current events in which it was important, or not important, for the leader to be moral?

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22 thoughts on “

  1. I think its required for our leaders to have good moral standards.1 because they make desicions for the rest of us and 2 we bade our decisions off them.

  2. I think you asked some great questions. Is it the leader that creates the immorality or does the immorality already exist and that is why the immoral leader is put in position to begin with? It’s probably a little bit of both… But I think you are correct that something can be done. Christ says all things can be done through his strength. We need righteous leaders and holding them accountable for their immorality, whether publilc or private, is a good step in the right direction.

  3. Great post Autumn.
    It is my hope that those who lead will seek divine guidance as they make decisions that affect millions of people. We know that the holy ghost cannot dwell in unholy places and so yes, I think we need to hold our leaders to a higher
    standard (though many don’t) and expect
    them to live moral lives. The example of
    General Petraus demonstrates how one persons immoral behavior can affect nations. What a tragedy!

  4. For our leaders to be a good example, as they say they will be, they need to have standards that they genuinely keep. If they are not keeping to their standards, then why should they be a hypocritical “leader”?
    Leaders are those who are prayerful, consult God by turning to Him with decisions, ask for His guidance, and ask for Him to bless them with the strength to turn away from temptation. They cannot do it by themselves, they need the ever guiding hand of someone who will always lead them the right way.

  5. I believe that a person cannot have separate sets of morals for their private and public lives. I have always said that ethics are doing the right thing even when no one is looking. I think our leaders take a dim view of the American peoples intelligence.
    They seem to think that we can be sold on the idea contrary private and public morals can co-exist. So far I would have to say we seem to be buying it. Here we are once again with leaders in disgrace and instead of hiring lawyers one hired a publisher
    Speaks volumes to me. I am sure he will soon be found on the bestsellers list.
    He couldn’t sell it if we Americans did buy it.

    1. You are right. It goes along with the fact that people look up to the famous whether good or bad….look at all of the reality tv. People do the stupidest, most degregating things to be famous. It used to be those surrounding a scandal like Petraus’s would do everything they could to hide it. Now adays they publish/publicize it for all to see. I won’t be buying it…

      1. Agreed. It isn’t about the publicity, the fame or who is most popular. It is about who we choose to help lead us into a future that we want to live in.

  6. I agree completely, Oma, you can’t live a double life. Sooner or later your standards will either disappear completely or be publicised-which isn’t always a good thing if you made a mistake. I’d say that your good standards should just be a thing that people can spot in you, not something that you go and announce to the world-while it is good for others to know that you have standards and will do anything to keep them so you can remain not only morally clean because you said so, but because you want to. It should be something you want to achieve personally.
    Which ties back to ChristianMom’s comment, in reality TV you’re showing what your personal life is, displaying your strengths- or submitting yourself to complete vulnerability, and nothing is personal. It’s all out in the open, and I think that not everything about our lives is supposed to be for the world to view. People lower their standards just to get attention, but it should be the other way around. Can you imagine a world where people like Lady Gaga were modest and clean? Or the Kardashians actually being married and staying married because they looked for a man/woman with high standards and achieved that goal?

  7. Helaman 5:2-3 says
    2 For as their laws and their governments were established by the avoice of the people, and they who bchose evil were cmore numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were dripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.

    3 Yea, and this was not all; they were a astiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.

    Unrighteous people choose unrighteous leaders. We need to pick righteous leaders to set us on a right path because our country is not doing very well. We can help by keeping our standards high and voting for righteous leaders.

    (I know I can’t spell so please don’t go all grammar nazi on me)

    1. That is exactly the scriptural reference I was looking for to reply to AthenaCabin’s post. Thanks for posting it.

      I think it points out to us that the righteousness or unrighteousness of the people determines the kind of leaders we have. Good people, if they are the more numerous part, will not suffer an immoral or unrighteous or wicked leader to hold that position for long. Even more powerful is the knowledge that for a righteous people (different from a ‘good’ people) God will not allow wicked leaders to maintain power. But because “they who (chose) evil were (more) numerous than they who chose good,… [so] the laws had become corrupted” God let the people reap the “ripening” fruits of their free agency – “destruction”.

      So, to answer your first question, yes I think a person needs to be a moral person to be a good (righteous) leader. But the people must be good to place that leader there. In the end, the responsibility running the nation in a righteous manner lies with the people. If an unrighteous leader is in power it is the fault of the people because they chose a leader who enables their unrighteousness.

      As far as examples from current events, we are surrounded by them. The entitlement nation voted in a president who will give handouts without question. Why shouldn’t he? It places us deeper in bondage of dependence and apathy which fully serves the adversaries purposes.

  8. Great post Autumn! Noble7, I was also thinking of this passage from the Book of Mormon, and how our leadership can be a reflection of us because they have been chosen by the voice of the people. It is sad how there have been leaders of this country who have made immoral decisions. It makes it hard to trust them, and what happens when you can’t trust your leaders??

  9. A dog is going to follow their master, a team is gonna follow their coach, and we are gonna follow our leaders. On the key topic do we need good leaders, I believe so, because they are a foundation that we must build upon, and when we start building on good ground, there is no need to rebuild the foundation.

  10. I think the wall street journalist (“Everybody knows the culture is poisonous, and nobody expects that to change.”) was trying to say was that no one expects the culture to change from being poisonous. If you look at our society today, it is a sucking death trap of toxins trying to seduces us into lies at cheats. IT doesn’t have to be where the only thing we believe in is secular. One of my favorite talks is of the Lost purse by Quentin L. Cook . In this short story it shows the things a young woman should strive to be. Such young women are committed and virtuous. Virtue is an outward appearance of inward righteousness. Our world is not going to change. Go to the news. Tops stories include :Charter schools, Breaking Dawn, Vaccine, Green Bay Packers, ADHD, the Egypt Crisis, and other stories. These don’t all scream out right rebellion. But take a closer look at our media and such. There are always 5 or more R rated movies out. And not all of the PG 13 ones are the best anymore. I firmly believe in the righteous influence of a young woman, and how we can all help the world. Sister dalton said we are gaurdians of virtue, defenders of righteousness. It’s time we arise above the world so they may see our light and good works and glorify thier Father in Heaven.

  11. Just to throw a side statement, a good leader is by definition a leader who is good at leading people to his cause, whether his cause be good or not so good. So in turn, to be a good leader one does not have to have high morals to be a good leader, one just has to be able to convey whatever those standards are to a group of people in such a way as to create a large group of followers.

    1. Yes, that raises a good point. I think this addresses what Nobl7 and bonnie implied. It brings to mind the “secret combinations… and craftiness of men”. This pushes the thought that we need to be aware of who we expect to lead us though.

  12. I think it is a great thing for our leaders to be moral. With all the things going on in Isreal it is improtant for our leaders to hold their composure and integrety so that there won’t be as much war and destruction. There are different types of people out there good and bad. We need good leaders to keep good countries striving and help others turn it around. I guess what I am trying to say is we always need good moral people in high leadership positions.

  13. One of My favorite Quotes is by ABC commentator Paul Harvey. He said this on April 3, 1965. To me it’s just revealing of how much worse our world is now, and it’s only getting worse if this was 47 years ago.

    ‘If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

    If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine yound intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an athiest to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

    If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.’

  14. Great questions and responses. Most people in the world believe that a leader’s private life (and immoral actions in private) do not affect their ability to make good decisions as a leader for a corporation, country or family. This may appear to be true, but lack of integrity takes a toll on an individual and the people he/she leads and directs. If a corporation president, for instance, has an affair and supposedly no one knows about it–then he or she is lying to family, coworkers and everyone else. Eventually, the lie is found out and the leader cannot be trusted. Wise people will not follow a leader that they can’t trust.

    Its important that we as individuals choose to lead lives of integrity and choose leaders who do the same.

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