by Jim George
A person is not given integrity. It results from the relentless pursuit of honesty at all times. - Unknown Source
Integrity is being truthful, trustworthy, having conviction. It is steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. It is unimpaired in its focus. It is whole and undivided in its certainty. It is complete and trustworthy in its nature. Integrity can be summed up simply as doing the right thing for the right reason even when no one is watching. Integrity is what you want for yourself and for those you work with. A person with integrity can be trusted.
That's why integrity is admired in a leader. People want to follow someone into battle, or into a business venture, whom they can trust will do right by them. They can trust him with their life, their financial future, because they can be assured that he will keep his promises and his commitments to them. Integrity was one of Nehemiah's strengths. And that's why Nehemiah is such a great example to follow.
For Nehemiah, integrity was a heart issue. And that's the secret of integrity—it's an inside job! Integrity is a heart issue. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7a) You are either a man of integrity or not. There is no partial percentage for integrity. You have it or you don't. But the wonderful thing about integrity is that no one will ever be able to forcefully take it away from you. Your choices are your own. Even if someone can take your life, they can't force you to make a choice that you believe is wrong.
Integrity creates a value system. The world has become one big "gray area," which means everything has become relative. Today's leaders take comfort in "situational ethics." The situation determines their ethic—their response. Actions and conduct are based on the present climate of the culture. Rather than ask, "Is my behavior acceptable to my surroundings?" Integrity asks, "Is my behavior acceptable to the set of values that are fixed and unmoved, and will never change?"
Integrity created a black and white value system. It was either right or wrong, good or bad. In the secular world of today, a leader can't impose his personal standards especially if they have "religious overtones." But he can make sure that the people who work with or for him know the importance of having an established operating system that is fair, moral and ethically consistent. Yet, God's leader who is operating in the world can and must have his system based on God's standards of holiness and truth. He can't impose it on his workplace, but he can live it at his workplace.
But when working within a spiritual context, a spiritual leader can impose his ethical standard on those he leads, because they too are to have his same spiritual standards.
How can you insure that Nehemiah's integrity is alive and well in your heart? Follow the steps below to improve your leadership as you build your integrity.
Realize the value of integrity. It defines who you are. It refines you and guides your actions.
The end is never as satisfying as the journey. To have achieved everything but to have done so without integrity is to have achieved nothing.
Choose the truths of Scripture. Stand with Martin Luther's same resolve: "I am bound by the Scriptures...my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience."
Regularly, examine your heart. "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart." (Psalm 26:2) Look at the choices you are making, and then, based on the Bible, decide what you must change in your behavior to align your life more closely to God's standards.
Be conscious of your daily decisions. Prayerfully evaluate your every decision, however big or small. Does that decision affirm your integrity? If not, obviously it's out!
Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip. (Psalm 26:1)
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