It’s near-universally agreed that integrity is a desirable characteristic in people; especially so in leaders. We look for evidence of integrity in hiring decisions and when seeking partners for business ventures. Integrity is super important for healthy interpersonal relationships. Everybody says they want integrity.
So What is Integrity?
My online dictionary defines integrity this way: 1. Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. 2. The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished. 3. A sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.
The Latin root for integrity is linked to “integer” which means whole. An integer in math terms is a whole number; not divided as a fraction.
Most of us grasp the essence of how we perceive integrity and feel we know it when we see it in another, but we may not have spent much time digging into what integrity actually means in our own lives.
What Does it Mean to be a Perfectly Whole, Ethical You, Undivided?
In our current culture war climate, there is a battle raging over what you should be; what you should think; which parts of you need to be discarded. I’m fond of noting that this cultural battle is not new or unique to the present generation.
Everything that has ever been will come back again. Everything that has ever been done will be done again. Nothing is new on earth.– Eccles 1:9
Mankind has wrestled with itself over culture, mores, and social norms since the recorded beginning of civilization. It’s so easy to be distracted by the warring factions and lose sight of simply who we are as an individual; our whole self.
The multitude of media sources rally and coordinate messaging on behalf of factions all vying to persuade you to their side. It’s a literal tug of war with you tied like the bandana at the center of the rope; each team trying to bring you across their own cultural line to social victory.
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid the battle by simply quitting social media or news shows. The entertainment industry, governments, academic community, and even the workplace are all hot zones of active cultural combat. As the war rages on through the 3000-year mark, we’ve seen the recurring tactic by warring parties to demand that all must acquiesce to their preferences of belief, behavior, and loyalties.
More than easy to get distracted by the warring factions, it is hard to stay above the fray and remain wholly ourselves and what we believe is moral, ethical, and true. The 3000-year culture war attacks our integrity 24/7.
Integrity: What Does it Mean to be a Perfectly Whole, Ethical You, Undivided?
- Be undivided. Have faith and trust in the Lord to carry you and fulfill His promises. Faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not up for parting off or discarding should a zealous culture warrior feel threatened by you or what you believe.
As a Confessing Christian, integrity demands that you be wholly you. Concealing your faith in Christ would demonstrate a lack of integrity if you don’t allow it to be known out of some fear or discomfort.
I’m not promoting that you buy a bull horn and preach from your office. I am saying that having your views and actions being informed by your faith is to be boldly celebrated as good and not hidden as though we are ashamed.
- Be whole in Christ. Our faith is not captured in any one or small group of cultural mores. We are called to love our brothers and sisters; provide comfort and aid to the needy; show compassion to the downtrodden; share our table for the hungry; even be shrewd in business.
By being whole in our faith, we provide a good witness to the Gospel. It’s when we are timid or selective with our trust in God that non-believers see a double-mindedness. Railing against abortion in God’s name on social media, for example, while being a harsh ogre of a boss at work would be selective obedience to the faith.
Participating in gossip or laughing at jokes of poor taste are other common obstacles to us being whole in Christ. The slope from “person of faith” to “hypocrite” is covered in so much grease that we often don’t even realize we’ve slid down the hill.
Be able to confess failures without pride ruling over you and repent by working to improve.
Let Christ fill your heart such that you feel compassion for those embroiled in the culture wars but you feel no threat to yourself which includes your faith; complete in Christ.
- Be in sound, unimpaired, condition. Scripture is full of basic, sound, wisdom for work and living. So many people struggle with integrating their faith into their work life as they have not practiced how applicable it is to do good business.
To a believer, our faith is our identity. If we suppress our faith out of some fear, we can’t serve in a “sound, unimpaired, condition.” We’ve chosen our own impairment by locking away our core beliefs and identity until we’re what? At church? Alone?
Living in fear or under oppression is an impairment that will prevent anyone from being their best. Letting fear or intimidation dictate how you think and act is contrary to both being unimpaired and demonstrating strong integrity.
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.- 2 Cor 5:8
I exhort you, my brothers and sisters, to not let the world around you compromise who you are in faith. Be complete in your faith with boldness knowing that your integrity is a prized asset and you are best when you are whole.