David Hegg | The People We Need

David Hegg

By David Hegg

Recently, I was approached by a young executive and asked a simple question: “What do you look for in someone you would hire to play an important role in your organization?” 

Frankly, I immediately thought, “How can I say something that sounds erudite and also might be helpful?” I gave him an answer that seemed to satisfy him but the question continued to plague me throughout the day. After spending some time ruminating on the question, I found myself holding firmly to three attributes: Intelligence, Integrity and Industry. 

By intelligence I mean both real knowledge and the wisdom to apply that knowledge properly and beneficially to the task or challenge that presents itself. 

By integrity I mean a life-dominating commitment to be morally right, and determined to do the right things, in the right way, for the right reasons, with consistency. Not perfection of course, for we are all culpable at some point, but I want to surround myself with people whose integrity can’t be bought or in any way compromised. 

By industry I mean a passion to get things done, work hard and persevere through the challenges that may arise. It is the ability to take an idea or plan and execute it to completion successfully. Industry is simply the good ol’ American work ethic that too often today has been overruled by a person’s dedication to the laziness of self-care.  

All three of these – intelligence, integrity and industry –matter, but each is of little value without its mates.  

Intelligence and industry without integrity is the genetic code of criminality in all its forms. Smart people who get things done but without moral character are the source of all kinds of the corruption that populate our headlines. And those headlines, I greatly fear, are only the tip of the iceberg. 

Intelligence and integrity without industry is the worldview of many who earn multiple degrees, can quote Plato, Augustine and Buffett, but can’t keep a job. They know everything, and may be really good people, but when it comes to getting things accomplished, they’re as dumb as a rock and about as useful.  

Lastly, integrity and industry without intelligence is the formula for creating all kinds of seemingly brilliant ideas that aren’t actually good, and hopefully never come to fruition. Remember the millions of dollars spent on studying the effect of cow flatulence on the air we breathe? Or how about the idea that we get rid of fossil fuel, freedom of speech and police? Oy Gevalt!  

So, back to the question of who I want to hire. But, let’s change it a bit. The better question is what kind of people ought we to be? The answer, of course, is the same! 

We need to be intelligent, not merely knowledgeable. It isn’t enough to know stuff. We need to know the right stuff, believe it, and be able to apply it to the ups and downs of life. Today, truth seems to be dependent, not on verifiable facts, but on the personal desires of the individual or the professional, self-protective spin of those in power. Don’t fall for it! Intelligence is based on truth, and where truth is spun, shaved, compromised or left behind, what masquerades as truth is really a lie. 

We need to be people of uncompromisable integrity. We can’t be bought, bullied, or broken by those peddling the idea that the end justifies the means when the means involves duplicity, exaggeration, or any other vehicle of moral compromise. We must be people with moral grit.  

And lastly, we must be industrious people. Wars were never won by capitulation, and the right kind of progress will not be accomplished through anything less than a determination to get done what needs to be done. Is the challenge daunting? Are those who oppose powerful? Yep and yep. But never underestimate the power of being in the right, of representing moral fortitude, and walking in line with the truth that “in God we trust.” 

That’s who I’d hire, and that’s who I’d be proud to work with as we attempt to be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  

Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays. 

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