A principle is an external truth that is as reliable as a physical law. For example, when Solomon said, “A gentle answer turns away every wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” he stated a principle that is universal and timeless. Principles are important because they function like a map, allowing us to make wise decisions. If we embrace a principle and internalize it, it becomes a part of our values. – John Maxwell
I first heard the list of The Ten Ancient Principles at a presentation called Foundations: Powerful Leadership and Character at a training session for police leaders at the Center for Public Safety at Northwestern University. The material came from Robert Vernon, retired LAPD #2 guy and founder of the Pointman Leadership Institute. The list came with a very brief outline and the principles were described as:
- Time tested
- Has universal application
- Provides an inner compass
- Provides good results when applied
- Has a positive impact on society
- Other principles find origin in these ten
The presenter mentioned ”spirituality” as one of the slices in a balanced life and noted that God’s name has been used through history to “formalize agreements,” but was silent on the origin of the list. Given the venue it was no surprise that credit was not given to God for carving them onto stone tablets, but it did not take a biblical scholar (fortunately) to make the connection to the Ten Commandments. I was impressed with how acceptable this message was to a secular audience of law enforcement leaders by changing the language used and focusing on the benefits gained, rather than on the source of the information. It would be a mistake to recognize and benefit from these truths without recognizing the author, but there is value in it either way. That’s the truth about truth, it is true because it is, not because of where it comes from.
I set out to take a look at each of these ancient principles, their connection to the Bible, and how they apply to life today. In some cases the connection is made directly to my experience as a police officer, but the application in every case goes much deeper than that. These principles remain as reliable a foundation for everyone as they ever have.