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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Eleventh Day of Life-Changing Gifts - Maintaining the Higher Moral Ground

Bob Nugent was a year behind me in grade school. We didn't really have much contact until college where we were both involved in student government and wound up spending lots of time together as part of an interesting (at least to us), somewhat nerdy political clique.

At one point, several student organizations found themselves embroiled in what passed for college campus controversy in those days. Let's just say, it was quite a bit less important than the anti-war protests of our predecessors on campus years earlier.

As various groups and individuals were angling for the upper hand in what might be the ultimate resolution of the issue, Bob talked about the necessity of "maintaining the higher moral ground."

By this phrase, he meant the importance of displaying the upright conduct that allows you to deflect criticism potentially coming your way. The phrase "higher moral ground" resonated so strongly, I've used the idea repeatedly in reminding myself of the importance of not extending your own moral point of view beyond a standard against which you are willing to be judged.

Years later, I discovered the concept addressed in a New Testament passage from the letter to Titus:

" yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us." - Titus 2:7-8

When I first heard it, I was clear this was a description of the "higher moral ground." Bob's words from college came full circle for me as a foundational life practice.

Maintaining the higher moral ground is a challenging standard for anyone, but in an age when there's such interest in seeing people fall, it's never been more important to be able to live it out successfully.

Note: This is one of a series of posts on life-changing gifts. - Mike Brown

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Jan L. said...

High moral ground is good to deflect criticism. More important, perhaps, is that you can look at that face in the mirror in the morning and still like and respect what you see.

Mike Brown said...

Thanks again for two great comments Jan!

Another benefit of the concept is how it can help you make tough decisions when an easy response would seem to make you feel a lot better in the moment.

For instance, there was a situation today where it would have felt really good to blast back at someone who was speaking harshly. This concept helped me though to bite my tongue, maintain a calm tone, and tell them I wasn't going to even get into the conversation with them.