When I started this series, I intentionally limited myself to seven traits of true success, you and I both know there are so many more.
This trait will either cause a leader to rise or to fall.
I’ve invested thousands of hours of my life as a people helper as a minister, therapist, and consultant and one of the themes that I have noted over the years is that people who live out this particular trait do well in life. Those who don’t, well let’s just say, don’t do as well.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with one of my mentors and a godly man that I’ve had to pleasure to co-facilitate with, Dr. H. Norman Wright. Now 90, Norm is still actively engaged in teaching and sharing things that he has learned over the years.
Before our conversation, there had been a very public fall from grace of a prominent evangelical pastor who had to leave the ministry because of an affair.
I asked Norm, “What happened?” There was a sudden, somber shift in his tone. He said, “it was an integrity issue.” He went on to explain that for men and women who do lack integrity or compromise their integrity the test will show up through the abuse of money, sex, and power. I will come back to the story of this minister pater.
When Norm shared this, I know intuitively that he was spot on, absolutely correct.
So, just what is integrity?
Take a moment and enjoy this little video.
One definition is integrity the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles and being morally upright.
Sounds honest yet lofty, doesn’t it?
Here is one of my favorite working definitions of integrity. Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.
If I could teach people one thing, it would be this: Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. It is doing the correct thing at all times and in every circumstance regardless of who is watching. You see it takes years to build integrity and only one poor choice to destroy it.
Over the years our culture has moved away from the strong Christian cultural influence into a more morally relativist world view. We have moved into a time when integrity is not talked about nearly enough. The predominant view, unfortunately, is “the end justifies the means,” has become the norm of so many people. Salespeople make great promises but many times under deliver, people inflate their resume’s, and CEO’s inflate their reports.
Amy Reese Anderson in her article “Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity Is Forever, “shares these poignant insights.
“I think Warren Buffet said it best, “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.” If a person is dishonest, it will eventually catch up with them. It may not be today, and it may not be for many years, but it will catch up.
Here is a word of advice for you, if you are wanting to maintain and expand your personal integrity. Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them. Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of his life, you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many aspects of his life. You cannot dismiss even those little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who takes two newspapers from the stand when they paid for only one. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the most straightforward matters of honesty then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold lengthy and complex business contracts?”[i]
If you do what is right, the consequences will follow.
Now back to the pastor I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Gordon McDonald is the pastor. He is a pastor who did the right thing.
Once his integrity breach was known, he fully disclosed his sin and immediately stepped down from his pulpit and entered a season of recovery. He received counseling, spiritual direction and had a group of other men to challenge him, nurture him, and make sure that he, his wife and family were moving through a highly accountable, restoration process. Through this process along with a very public recalibration of his life, Gordon McDonald was reinstated to ministry and is currently serving as the Chancellor of Denver Seminar. In addition to his work at Denver Seminary, he was the Editor for Christianity Today’s Leadership Magazine. Macdonald is also a successful author with over 12 published works.
One of his most profound, Ordering Your Private World, came about as a result of his recovery. In this classic work he gives powerful, poignant principles for maintaining and re-establishing integrity.
How is your private world, that world that only you are aware of? believe when we are working on guarding our private world be are experiencing real success.
Allow me to challenge you to take a look at this list, which comes off the pages of Ordering Your Private World, and do a little self-evaluation.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I am convinced that the inner realm of the spiritual must govern the outer world of activity.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I make a daily choice to monitor its state of orderliness.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I have courageously confronted the messiness of my ways of living and chosen to bring them under rigorous discipline.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because, having faced up to what drives me, I listen quietly for the call of Christ.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I respond to Christʼs call to be a servant and form my life-purposes, my community-roles and personal identity around His fondest wishes for me.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I have made daily determination to see time as Godʼs gift and worthy of careful investment.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I have begun to seal the time leaks and allocate my productive hours in light of my capabilities, my limits and my priorities.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I have determined that every day will be for me a day of growth in knowledge and wisdom.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I seek to use all I learn in service to others, as Christ did.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I regularly choose to enlarge the spiritual center of my life.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I am unafraid to be alone and quiet before Christ.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I absorb the words of Christ into my attitudes and actions.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I have begun to pursue the discipline of seeing events and people through the eyes of Christ so that my prayers reflect my desire to be in alignment with His purposes and promises for them.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I have chosen to press Sabbath peace into the rush and routine of my daily life to find the rest God prescribed for Himself and all of humanity.
- If my private world is in order, it will be because I have made a deliberate decision to begin the ordering process.
A couple of Scriptures to consider:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.Proverbs 3:3-6 NLT
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.James 3:17 NLT
What are three things you can begin doing to strengthen your own personal integrity today?
What is one integrity area that you struggle with?
What do you do on a day to day basis to maintain your personal integrity?
I’d love to hear from you.