Ethics and morality are often overlooked yet are founding principles and stellar pillars of the human society. The moral behavior of one person in the society directly affects the moral behavior of others whether in the same society or another. There’s a growing concern over the moral integrity of the modern society. An ethical crisis is clearly evident from the upper echelon down to our growing kids. Therefore, there’s an increasing necessity to emancipate the society including our children and the upcoming generations from the looming cultural erosion and ethical crisis by instilling good values in them so that they can uphold moral integrity, abide by ethics and live by virtues. Charles Swindoll, a celebrated Christian author, and Chuck Colson, an evangelical Christian leader, and author are striving to galvanizing young people to begin the change they want to see in the world by doing God’s work which is serving humanity with the purest of hearts. The content of the two authors on various occasions including Swindoll’s book; Improving Your Serve and some of Colson’s videos are reviewed to gain insights of their ideologies on morality and ethics.
1. The Art of Unselfish Living by Charles Swindoll
The book The Art of Living by Dr. Charles Swindoll, a Christian author puts servanthood into proper perspective. He uniquely shows the crucial aspects of authentic servanthood including; what it takes to serve diligently and unselfishly, rewards and challenges a servant should expect as well as the essential aspects of authentic servanthood. He offers crucial guidelines on the development of a servant’s heart and challenges readers to realize the humongous rewards that lay ahead of authentic Christian servanthood.
Swindoll begins the first chapter by breaking down the three core characteristics of servanthood namely;
• Genuine humility
• Absolute honesty
• Transparent humanity
He uses Paul as an example and states that Paul is considered as a brilliant man since he endured so much. He indicates that Paul became great because of his humility thus servanthood should also involve humility (“Improving your Serve”-, 2016).
In the second chapter, Dr. Swindoll establishes that the leading enemy of servanthood is oneself. He claims that pride is a huge impediment to anyone trying to have a proper servant spirit. He uses Adam and Eve as a perfect example for pride that led to a fall. Everything was going well for the two until they messed up everything, and when God opened their eyes, they ran to cover themselves and started blaming others for their wrongdoings. He finishes the chapter by saying no one wants to play second fiddle yet there always has to be a second fiddle for things to work right. He calls for humans to give everything back to God if we want God to use us (“Improving your Serve” - 2016).
Chapters that follow emphasize on the formula of true humility which is giving, forgiveness, and forgetting. Swindoll states that humans are naturally controlled by selfishness, but humility could be the solution. He says the best kind of a giver gives anonymously thus has no room for pride. He further elaborates the significance of forgiveness by giving the example of Jesus Christ who forgave humans for crucifying him. Swindoll says that it’s high time we realized the price that was paid by Jesus in vertical forgiveness so that we can exercise horizontal forgiveness. He suggests that forgiveness is a precursor to improving one’s serve. Forgiving and forgetting are often intertwined, and that’s why Swindoll uses them together in the book. Although he indicates that we should count blessings more than injuries, the message is quite clear that none should actually be accounted for; Instead, we should just embrace the right attitude if we really want to live happily.
Swindoll also explains the risks involved in serving and claims no one is exempted from these risks. Other than Paul, Swindoll uses another biblical example; Gehazi the servant of the great prophet Elisha in the old testament and exposes the dangers that faced him. Gehazi was privileged to be in a position as an assistant to the man of God. He would often perform miracles on behalf of prophet Elisha. The author portrays Gehazi as living in the spotlight of the prophet, but he could never be Elisha. Also, living in the shadows of a popular person made him vulnerable. The life of Gehazi as a servant is a warning that servants are capable of being victimized by the enemy. The author states that the greatest perils come in spirit and body form, but a servant needs to soldier on. The enemy will always seize any opportunity to bring a servant down, but servants should not despair. They have a weapon that can shield them, and that is faith; totally surrendering to God and being devoted to prayer. He also indicates that all motives must be honestly searched through reasoning with the inner person. Swindoll emphasizes the importance of serving even though most deeds will be unrewarding initially (Swindoll, 2004).
2. Critique of Chuck Colson’s videos
Chuck Colson’s videos revolve around morality and ethics, which basically imply doing the right thing. Colson continually indicates that there’s an ethical crisis and erosion of culture in the United States and that morality is collapsing. Ethics is lacking in many areas including the government, and even Wall Street and that could be attributed to greed. In his words, he says that “we live in the age of obsessive individualism.” The individualism has led to the proliferation of corruption, deceit and fraud right from our leaders whether in the government or in the corporate world. Other consequences of obsessive individualism witnessed in the contemporary world include;
• Election Fraud
• Ponzi Schemes
• Sex scandals
• Backroom deals
• Insider trading
• Money laundering and
• Corporate malfeasance
The videos provide examples of situations where an ethical crisis has emerged clear. One of the examples is the Tyco corporate scandal of 2002 in which the executives; Davis Kozlowski (CEO) and Mark Swartz (CFO) were charged with fraud of $600. The example is a clear indication of how modern day corporate executives are formulating ways in which they can selfishly gain material wealth from the organization they’re heading rather than focusing on generating more revenue for the organization and building it, retaining customers and making them feel special and serving humanity through initiatives such as corporate social responsibility.
Ethical behavior by the government is also discussed in one of the videos. The shortage of ethics from the government was brought to light by among other things the financial crisis of 2008. The Financial crisis exposed not only the government but also other sectors that played part including; the financial markets, the mortgage lending banks, and the public. Professionals, therefore, recommend that the government has to be limited so as not to continue violating the moral laws. I couldn’t agree more with this suggestion since much more catastrophes including wars are likely to take place if governments are not limited to morally acceptable norms.
The teachings of Colson are very relevant and significant as far humanity and generations are concerned. If we don’t teach our kids about values, virtues, ethics and moral integrity now, good and common good won’t prevail, and humanity won’t exist for long given the impending dangers such as nuclear bombs or financial meltdowns due to selfish interests. Even businesses and market economies rely upon an ethical structure to remain stable otherwise they would collapse We’re often told that we borrow the world from future generations; thus, we need to understand who we are as humans. Otherwise, the world could turn out to be dangerous. Therefore, we need people of good virtues to be in leading positions if we want to be successful. Most importantly, we have a moral obligation to nurture ethical standards at all levels including churches and schools.
3. Reflection on the service project
I chose to do random acts of kindness for my service project, something I would consider as very fulfilling. First, I made dinner for a family that was going through a crisis on three occasions. I settled for the gift of food since not every family is lucky to afford three meals a day as recommended by health professionals. Most families living below the poverty line can barely afford food and if at all they do, it’s never a balanced diet. The consequences of this poor feeding habits include malnutrition which usually takes a toll on the young ones thus exposing them to diseases such as Kwashiorkor and Marasmus. Families hit by a crisis are likely to lose their source of income or their Backroom thus be on the verge of being rendered poor. Giving food to such families in time of need could be in occasions regarded as saving lives whether literally or through creating hope. Judging by the family’s reaction, the meal was a gift not only to them but also to me. Everyone was happy, thankful and wished me blessings. That inspired me to prepare a balanced diet for them on two more occasions. I also paid for people’s meals going through a drive through on three other occasions. The recipients were jovial, and those with friends or families shared the food. To me, that felt like sharing love, and I was happy to start a wave of contagious love and smiles on people’s faces.
Second, I wrote letters of encouragement and left them on people’s cars. I ensure I wrote uplifting messages that would impact on people’s lives and change them for the better. I decided to write the messages because people go through all sorts of difficult situations on a daily basis regardless of their age, gender, race or social status. Encouragements have been proved to influence great decisions and challenge people not to give up. Encouragement is a wonderful gift that people often avoid sharing due to ignorance and poor self-esteem. Sharing good deeds that happen to us can easily transform other people into encouragers too. Although I couldn’t see the faces of the recipients or hear what they had to say, I was quite sure the letters would shape their future and turn them into great people.
My third service involved shopping for an elderly neighbor, so she didn’t have to get out in the cold. Most elderly individuals are usually sick and weak and exposing them to harsh conditions increases their vulnerability. It feels right to care for the elderly. The old lady was very impressed with me. I felt blessed as she gave some useful insights on how to live longer and happier. I could even see myself at that age. Despite the frailness, it’s a blessing to live that long. Finally, I helped tutor a 5th grader on four occasions to help him improve his reading and writing skills. The boy is a grade level behind, and the worst that could happen to him is lose his confidence and give up on his studies. He was elated and requested that I should be helping him in his studies more often, something I was open to.
4. Lessons learned from the class
I’ve gained tremendous knowledge and learned lessons from this class than I’ve probably not had the chance to learn in my entire lifetime. The most important lesson I’ve learned is serving unselfishly. Swindoll through his book has helped me learn that the three main pillars of serving unselfishly are; genuine humility, transparent humanity, and absolute honesty. Perhaps that’s why the dogmas of faith teach us that God sees through our hearts and it's the goodness within us that He rewards. So, by serving humanity, we’re serving God. When an elderly, homeless, hungry or sickly individual blesses a giver for coming to their aid, God also blesses the giver. That is why the Bible says that we should feed the hungry, visit the sick, and clothe the naked because by doing so, we’ll be serving God. God created each of us different for that purpose. So that we could serve one another with what we have whether it’s talent or resources. That is how humanity should be. Colson’s videos have also inspired me tremendously in matters to do with selfishness. I’ve learned that even the greatest of businesses or countries can tumble down easily due to selfish interests. To be at the top, we need to do things right and serve genuinely regardless of our position in the society. That way, everyone wins; all of us are happy, and God is happy too.
Colson has also taught me the significance of morality, ethics, and virtues or good values in life. Most of the bad deeds that happen in organizations or the society sprout from the opposite which is immorality, vices, selfishness and being unethical. The erosion of culture or having an ethical crisis could be detrimental to the society and even the world at large. We could destroy each other if all we want is to pursue our selfish interests without caring about values or each other. But if morality and good value are nurtured, then we have a recipe for prosperity. Other than being greedy and corrupt, it’s better to serve others diligently and work hard to achieve our goals. Most importantly, God wants us to serve humanity (transparently) at all costs. Jesus on the sermon on the mountain and the Beatitudes said “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.
I’ve also learned that serving may not also be as easy as it sounds since challenges will always present themselves. Charles Swindoll in his book Improving your serve reveals that serving will come with its own unique set of challenges. The challenges may seem subtle, but they’re almost as risky as common occupational hazards. We are living in a digital age right now, and the technology including the internet has made the world a global village. The level of openness and access in communicating has been simplified thus exposing servants to temptations of the flesh not to mention spiritual temptations too. The book has taught me that as a servant, I need to stay woke and relentless because the enemy is always looking to manipulate or deceive us into going astray. No one is exempted from the scheme of the enemy or temptation no matter how dedicated, effective or spiritual they are. Jesus was holy, but Satan still tempted him. We are always vulnerable and exposed to the risks of servanthood in our everyday lives (Swindoll, 2004).
Situations will always come our way. I’ve done mistakes in the past, most of which I’m not proud of. I’ve wronged my parents and schoolmates on various occasions, and some of my actions can be considered selfish. But to err is human. This course has helped me learn the importance of forgiveness and forgetting. There are always two possibilities when someone has been wronged; there is an offender, and there is the offended. Forgiveness is required in both cases. I’ve learned not to be persuaded nor controlled by hatred or my emotions. Instead, I’ve learned to be compassionate and forgiving. As Swindoll puts it, forgiveness is the foundation of our faith as servants as difficult as it may seem. Just like Jesus forgave us on the cross and gave us eternal life, I’ve learned to use forgiveness to start a relationship all over again and rebuild it (Ebenezer.org, 2018).
Lastly, I’ve learned that being a servant is a daunting task that may not be rewarding at first. It’s not for the faint-hearted; neither is it for the kind that needs strokes and appreciation from people in order to pursue something. A servant should always be prepared to be virtually unknown and overlooked. They should not expect the reward to come from the outside, but from within. It’s not what others think that matters, it’s the satisfaction that God gives the servant on the inside that counts.
Ebenezerbc.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018, from https://www.ebenezerbc.org/Portals/0/ImproveYourServe/Improving_Your_Serve_Lesson12.pdf
“Improving your Serve” -Chapter 1-5. (2016). Raise Your Praise. Retrieved 7 April 2018, from https://mybiblecollegestory.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/improving-your-serve-chapter-1/
Swindoll, C. (2004). Improving Your Serve. Google Books. Retrieved 7 April 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=fAfp4TUxg5IC&oi=fnd&pg=PT7&dq=major+ideas+thoughts+and+findings+of+Improving+your+serve:+the+art+of+unselfish+living&ots=v3mv5L4ci5&sig=k9R8wL7qgpeZm997jLSK591lk0k
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