If you found a wallet laying on the sidewalk, would you return it to its owner? If one small lie on your income tax form would save you thousands of dollars, would you lie? If you had the opportunity to cheat on a test and no one would ever know about it, would you cheat? If you could have sex with a stranger and your spouse would never know, would you try to get away with it? The way you answer these questions reveals whether you are a person of integrity or not.
One of the greatest needs in the church today is for people who have integrity. Why do successful ministers fall? It is because of a lack of integrity. David Shipley said, “In the Charismatic movement, we have produced visionary heavy weights, and character bantam weights.” You can get to the top by relying on your gifts and talents, but only integrity will keep you at the top.
Integrity is the most valuable character trait you can have. One of the richest men in America, Warren Buffet said, “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.”
What is integrity?
The dictionary defines integrity as “adherence to moral principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” William D. Lawrence explained, “Integrity is the integration of one’s life around his core values.” John Maxwell said, "Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are."
Integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking. Integrity is doing the same in secret as you would do if everyone was looking. It is important to be on guard when you are not in the spotlight. Don’t give yourself little treats when you are out of town or out of the public eye. Thomas Jefferson said, “Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.”
Integrity is the foundation for a successful man, organization, society, or nation. Andrew Carnegie said, "A great business is seldom if ever built up, except on the lines of strictest integrity."
Your integrity will define your life. Any fruit your life produces will be measured by your integrity or lack thereof.
Skill is not enough, you also need integrity. “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:72). We need both integrity and skill. Some have integrity but no skill, others have skill but no integrity.
Integrity takes a lifetime to build and a second to lose. Reputation takes your whole life to create, but it can be destroyed in a moment.
Integrity is keeping your word, even when it is hard. If it down comes to keeping your word versus keeping your money, let the money go and keep your word. Money can be replaced, but integrity, once lost, is gone forever. Peter Scotese said, "Integrity is not a 90 percent thing, not a 95 percent thing; either you have it or you don't."
Integrity is taking a stand for what is right, even when it is unpopular. Abraham Lincoln observed, "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what I light I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong."
Make up your mind that even if no one else has integrity; you are going to operate in integrity. Oswald Chambers wrote, “To see that my adversary gives me my rights is natural; but…from our Lord’s standpoint it does not matter if I am defrauded or not; what does matter is that I do not defraud.”
Integrity is doing what is right, no matter what. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, “The time is always right to do what is right.” George Eliot wrote, “Keep true, never be ashamed of doing right; decide on what you think is right, and stick to it."
My relationships will be helped or hindered by my integrity. No one can remain neutral in the presence of a man or woman of integrity. Integrity is uncomfortable because it makes others uncomfortable. Those who are willing to cheat, lie, and steal are uncomfortable in the presence of one who is unwilling to compromise his integrity.
Integrity requires you to face the good, the bad, and the ugly in yourself. Integrity is a personal fight against yourself. It is a fight no one else can fight on your behalf. It is a fight that must be fought everyday. It is a fight that can be lost in a moment. Leonard Drozd said, "He is most cheated who cheats himself." The greatest achievement is to go to your grave with your integrity intact.
Integrity is knowing that no matter where you go or what you do, God is with you.“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). Are your actions done in the name of Jesus? Every day is different, but every day is exactly the same in one way, at the beginning of every day and at the end of every day, all that is left is you and Him. People may not know if you have integrity, but God will know and you will know.
According to Pastor Billy Allen, integrity does four things for you. Integrity protects you, preserves you, prospers you, and creates a path for you. He adds that integrity does three things inside you. Integrity keeps you teachable, transparent, and trustworthy.
What happens when you do not have integrity?
Many people have integrity all the way up until the time when they need it most. George Washington said, “Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder.” As a song in the Toymaker’s Dream said, “If you can be bought at any price, you will be.”
Spectacular falls usually do not happen overnight. They start with a small compromise in one’s integrity and this lack of integrity grows until an entire life is destroyed. If you give the devil an inch, he will give you enough rope to hang yourself.
Satan will allow you to be successful for a time, then he will come back and bite a big hole from your butt. The devil will give you a grace period before he drops the trap on your head. This is because Satan wants to catch other people in the trap. He is looking for Collateral Damage. When you do not have integrity, there is a ripple effect on those around you. As one preacher said, “The devil ain’t no joke.” Don’t mess around with the devil.
Keys to Living a Life of Integrity
1. Keep your word.
“…let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment” (James 5:12 NKJV). Learn to say “no.” Be careful what you promise and commit to doing. If you commit to less, you will find it easier to maintain integrity with your commitments.
2. Don’t make excuses.
Don’t make excuses for your character flaw. An excuse is really just an effort to justify your sin. Instead, be quick to repent and ask God for His help.
3. Live a life of excellence.
Demand more of yourself and more of others. “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father the king made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation” (Daniel 5:11-12 NKJV).