Picture credit: Bible Society / Dennis Machio
The best way to beat corruption is to build your life on the three values of integrity, generosity and humility, Pastor Rick Warren told delegates to the African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) conference in Kigali, Rwanda.
Speaking on 'Corruption as a source of trauma', the pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life said tackling corruption was one of the goals of his church's 'Peace Plan', which aimed to tackle the five great world-wide traumas of conflict, corruption, poverty, poor health and lack of opportunity.
He said it was vital for leaders to begin by looking at themselves. 'The Bible says we are all corrupted by sin. We can't just talk about people "out there", we have to talk about ourselves.'
'Given the right situation, you are capable of any sin,' he said.
He spoke of the three temptations referred to in 1 John 2.16, 'the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life', saying they represent the three universal temptations of leadership. The lust of the flesh, he said, was any temptation to 'feel', not just sexual temptation; it could be food, or television, or sports.
He equated the lust of the eyes to the temptation to have things, or materialism.
The pride of life, he said, was the desire to be loved, envied and worshipped – in leadership terms, the desire for prestige, popularity or position.
'The greatest anti-corruption programme to teach people to live with integrity, generosity and humility,' he said.
He warned of the danger to leaders of compartmentalising their lives. Integrity, he said, was not about perfection but about wholeness: 'Sin may be private, but it's never personal. Every time I sin, it affects others whether I know it or not.'
On generosity, he said: 'You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Every time I give, my heart grows bigger. Everything in the world teaches me to get. That's materialism, the world's value system, the lust of the eyes. The only antidote to that is to give. Every time I give I get more like Jesus.'
He spoke of the enormous profits made from The Purpose Driven Life, and how he and his wife Kay had resolved not to change their lifestyles as a result. He does not take a salary from his church and repaid his salary from the previous 20 years, and he and Kay 'reverse tithe', giving away 91 per cent of their income. 'Every pastor or priest I know would do the same if they could,' he said.
On humility, he warned against the danger of under-valuing ourselves. 'They think it means putting yourself down, saying "I'm worthless, I'm junk." Jesus did not die for junk.'
'You are not worthless, you are infinitely valuable but you are also deeply flawed,' he continued. 'Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is not denying your strengths; humility is being honest about your weaknesses.'
He concluded: 'What should be the number one export of Africa? Not some product – not oil or gas or minerals or bananas or anything – the number one product that's needed around the world is leaders. Leaders of integrity, humility, generosity. And if our Church raises up those kinds of people, guess what? Corruption will go down. The trauma of corruption will go down.'