HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
The political and economic turmoil of 2008 powerfully validated the truth of these two observations. Greed and avarice marked the collapse of giant financial institutions and dashed dependence on unending prosperity in the United States of America and the world. Would that have happened if the political and economic leaders had acted with absolute integrity?
What about churches and Christian ministries? Are we any less vulnerable? I think not. In my years of leading in the Mystical Order, I learned the fundamental necessity of a life of integrity in leadership, undergirded by a clear set of principles of integrity.
Integrity is the concept of wholeness. Synonyms are honesty, virtue, honour, morality, uprightness, soundness, and sincerity. Four verses help form the basis for biblical integrity:
“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9);
“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16);
“And David shepherded them with the integrity of heart; with skilful hands, he led them” (Psalm 78:72);
and, “He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall” (Proverbs 28:18).
Integrity is an issue of the heart. It is rooted in our spiritual walk with God. So this is how I see it today. In God in the Dock: Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse. Above all, guard your daily walk with God.
Integrity is an issue of our actions. It is not just what we believe, but also what we do.
Integrity is an issue of others’ perceptions. Reputation is key.
“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” (Ecclestaies 10:1).
How does integrity, or lack thereof, develop? No one becomes a liar, thief, or cheat in one sudden momentous decision, but rather in a series of innocuous, seemingly minor choices. When we dig our grave ethically or morally, it is not with a big ditch digger, but with a small teaspoon, one little decision at a time. Wrong moral decisions are built on small indiscretions over time—small plagiarism, minor cheating, a few white lies, giving an impression that lies without words, or a private indulgence in morally questionable practices. Every decision counts.
Moral and ethical suicide occurs when I no longer feel bad when violating my ethical or moral principles, or when I rationalize that there are no absolutes to tell me how to live.
The focus of integrity is God, who knows our hearts and is the ultimate judge; our family, whom consequences of actions impact the most; leaders, coworkers, and followers; and lost people who are influenced toward or away from Christ as they observe us.
The currency of integrity is our word (we do what we say—our word is our bond); our money (checkbooks reveal much about the heart); our faithfulness to God, our family, and our mission; and our lifestyle (whether a paid ministry leader or a volunteer, lifestyle creates lasting impressions).
Here are some simple guidelines to leading lives of integrity:
The inner gauge of integrity is our conscience. That still, small voice speaks loudly when we cross its boundaries. We must build a biblical conscience and develop it conscientiously. The second and third chapters of my book Honesty, Morality and Conscience cover this in detail.
The voice of integrity is how we perform our jobs and live our lives. People believe what they see.
The spirit of integrity is revealed by how we treat and think about people. The counsel in James 2, “Don’t show favouritism,” speaks to both attitude and actions.
The reputation of integrity emanates from credibility and trust built over years. It can be destroyed in a moment, so guard it well.
Integrity flows out of a deep personal walk with God and a deep commitment to living out the life of Christ minute by minute and day by day. Integrity is both a character trait and a practical discipline. All of our talents, success, and skills amount to nothing without personal integrity.