Not many of us would disagree that our world would be a better place if people lived with integrity. The damage caused by a lack of integrity today is seen everywhere. All a person has to do is watch the news and hear about a professional athlete, who everyone thought was the “real deal”, who fell into some shocking behavior. Hearing about a politician, a business person or a pastor doing something that is unethical or illegal is commonplace today.
A lack of integrity also hits close to home as well, whether it’s a friend who betrays us or our even a spouse. The lack of integrity that is prevalent in our world today comes with a huge cost. The price we pay is a loss of trust. Trust is absolutely essential in order for a society, a business, or a relationship to function well. It’s simple: no integrity equals no trust. For a comprehensive look at how much a lack of trust costs society, business, and relationships read The Speed of Trust by Steven Covey Jr.
What is integrity anyway?
Integrity is when our behavior matches our beliefs. It’s when what you say and what you do match up. You have integrity when your private life and your public life align. It’s when you walk your talk. Its when you practice what you preach.
A great example from history of a person who demonstrated incredible integrity is Rosa Parks. On the evening of December 1st, 1955 Rosa parks took her seat on a bus after a long day of work. The bus was full that day. At that time the Alabama law required that a black person was to give up their seat for a white person and that the blacks could only sit in the back of the bus. Not on this occasion… Rosa Parks did not believe that she was less important or less worthy than a white person. She refused to get up!
She was quickly arrested for civil disobedience; an act that lead to a 381 day boycott of the Alabama bus system which, in turn, lead to a 1956 Supreme court decision banning segregation on public transportation! Rosa Parks’ one courageous act of integrity went on to spark the Civil Rights movement. What an inspiration!
Why live a life of integrity?
1. Integrity keeps you close to God
It was King David of ancient Israel who wrote, “Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies ” Psalm 24:3-4.
Think of it this way, parents try to instill in their children certain values and principles. When the children act in accordance to those values, the parents are pleased and all is well. If the children don’t, well… all is not well. It works in a similar way with our heavenly Father.
2. Integrity guides your life
It was King David’s son Solomon who wrote these words: “The integrity of the upright guides them…” Proverbs 11:3.
When values and principles like love for God, love for others, honesty, generosity, courage, and a deep sense of right and wrong become part of our character, they guide us through the rest of our lives. We come to our beliefs and convictions and then they guide us for the rest of our lives.
3. Integrity brings peace
There is a French proverb that says, “There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.” Imagine living life where you never have to worry about getting caught. Imagine never having to worry about getting found out… by the boss, your friend, your spouse. Imagine having no secrets; no worries about being exposed. When we live with integrity we will in peace because our conscience stops condemning us.
4. Integrity earns us trust and influence
As I have already mentioned, where there is little or no integrity, there is no trust. Relationships fail, businesses fail, politicians don’t get elected… well some still do. But with integrity great things can happen. Because of high levels of trust parents can have an incredible influence with their children, teachers can influence their students, husbands and wives can enjoy deep levels of intimacy and businesses do better selling their products. All of this is possible because of trust.
Integrity is like the oil in an engine. It makes the whole thing run smoothly. Without it, everything is in danger of a breakdown.
Are there any other benefits to integrity that you have discovered in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
Danny Anderson is the senior pastor of Emmanuel Church, in Indiana, and a coach for CourageToLead.com. When Danny took over at Emmanuel Church, he successfully led the church from 2,000 in attendance, down to 900! Since that time, Emmanuel’s weekly attendance has grown to nearly 5,000. Dan married his college sweetheart, and together they have three awesome kids.