Code of Conduct: Check Yourself So No One Has To
A prudent and far-sighted person sees the evil [of sin] and hides himself [from it], But the
naive continue on and are punished [by suffering the consequences of sin]. Proverbs 22:3, AMP
As I think of ruined legacies of high-profile men (too many to name), I can’t help but think of how these men could have gone down in history as successful men who lived great and impactful lives. Unfortunately, their legacies are permanently marred because of unethical things they did behind the scenes, leaving behind emotional wreckage and many unanswered questions.
One of the main, painstaking lessons that I’ve learned is that the greatest threat to freedom is your freedom. As a man, you want to use your freedom to make the right and best things happen and to keep the wrong things from happening.
Many of the men I meet were never taught to have consequential thinking. They didn’t consider the possible consequences of their actions, which is a type of thinking they should have learned in adolescence.
Part of being confident comes from knowing that you have to put the controls in place in your life to keep negative things from happening. It involves choosing your future by how you act in the present. For that, you need a code of conduct.
A code of conduct is a set of moral principles, boundaries, and expectations that are incorporated into your life, which keep you from sabotaging, interrupting, or detouring your life’s purpose.
A code of conduct provides guidance to avoid temptations and prevent pitfalls—taking proactive steps instead of focusing on a cure after the damage is done. If a man is not given a code, he’ll never learn—or worse, he’ll learn from the wrong places. I know from experience that the pain of regret is heavier than the pain of proactivity.
No one talks about the foundation of a house until the house is falling apart—yet the foundation is the hardest and most important part of building a house. Your code of conduct is the foundation to your life.
When you define the way you plan to conduct yourself, publicly and privately, you give yourself the best chance to build and improve your character, your confidence, and subsequently, your destiny.
What might be some of the negative things you want to keep from happening? Let me give you a list. These are the consequences of having no code of conduct.
Poor eating/sleep/exercise habits lead to:
Preventable diseases, low energy, poor mental/emotional/physical health
Poor self-control/due diligence concerning your financial life leads to:
Unmanageable debts, relational conflict due to financial stress, foreclosures, property repossessions, legal problems
Poor sexual/relational practices can lead to:
STDs, unwanted pregnancies, child-support battles, lifelong relational drama
Poor relationship choices lead to:
Long-term relational turmoil, community breakdown, and misguided choices, including breaking the law
Poor emotional habits lead to:
Using addictions to cope with your emotional pain, impulsive actions
Poor time management results in:
Missed deadlines and opportunities, leading to life-altering circumstances
What if, as a man, you made mistakes because you never had a code of conduct to guide your behavior and choices? Then you must FORGIVE YOURSELF and learn the lessons. My faith tradition teaches me that God can restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. (Joel 2:25, NKJV.) The second half of your life can be better than the first half, especially if you have learned the lessons of the first half.
Sample Code of Conduct
Here's a sample code of conduct with examples of specific actions that this person decides to incorporate:
1. Mental/Personal Development: I will read two books a month based on my personal and professional developmental needs.
2. Social/Professional: I will arrive everywhere I am scheduled to go on time and adequately prepared for my responsibilities.
3. Community-Building Habit: I will offer my seat to anyone who needs it more than I do if limited seating is available.
4. Financial: I will meet with my financial advisor quarterly.
5. Financial: I will budget my money properly every week to live below my means.
6. Financial/Relational: I will not loan money to others unless I am prepared to not have it paid back.
7. Relational: I will settle serious interpersonal conflict privately, personally, and peacefully.
8. Physical: I will commit to eating healthy food (high-fiber, low-sodium) and working out at least four times a week.
9. Spiritual/Relational: I will refuse to gossip, slander, or speak of someone in a negative way.
10. Relational: I will keep my commitments and refrain from committing in a way that exceeds my limits.
11. Spiritual: I will see a spiritual counselor once a month. It may be more. This serves as a spiritual checkup to exercise spiritual disciplines. (James 5:16, NIV)
12. Spiritual: I will preserve the preciousness of sexual intimacy within the context of marriage.
13. Spiritual: I won’t use social media more than once a month.
14. Spiritual: I won’t watch shows with sexually explicit content.
15. Spiritual/Relational: I will break contact with all relationships that don’t contribute to my overall well-being and purpose.
Personal Code of Conduct
Take some time to come up with your own code of conduct based on who you want to be and the kind
of man you want to become. This is personal, so consider your personal history. Identify areas where your history indicates you might need improvement.