The Need for Integrity

Be who you are wherever you are all of the time.

Dave Ramsey brought this up in a podcast from last week where a father wanted to sign his boat over to his son so that the father could say he didn’t own it.

My friend and I discussed this tonight in relation to people who profess to be Christians yet do things which blatantly go against Christ’s teachings.

It’s easy to point the finger.  Andy Stanley, in a past message called Staying in Love – Part 3: Feelin’ It, said that we are experts in assessing other people’s actions, but we are clueless when it comes to assessing and understanding and guarding what is in our heart.

The same principle applies here.  We all face issues, but it is a heck of a lot easier to point those issues out in someone else than to admit to them yourself or someone else.

We could all do with a bit more honesty and integrity on that level as well.  That said, here are some issues I face, in no particular order.  I wonder if you face the same ones:

  • Keeping my eyes and mind focused on pure thoughts and images.  This comes up frequently in my use of technology, where I am inundated by opportunities to do the wrong thing.  I face this every time I walk into Barnes & Noble, where every possible kind of printed material is ready for the taking.
  • Choosing to address painful issues directly and promptly.  My tendency is to avoid confrontation and then worry about the problem privately.  Integrity walks up and knocks on the door of the problem, not knowing who or what will answer.
  • Speaking, talking, and acting the same way when I am by myself or with people, when I am with Christians or with non-Christians.  I am constantly tempted to change or adjust my personal values or priorities or opinions to please others.  This is particularly a challenge when I expect someone to be critical of how I live or express myself.
  • Talking about God with my friends in my personal time.  It’s easy for me to talk about what Jesus is doing in me while I am sitting in church, but I can lax from that candor when I am hanging out with friends on Friday night because it is not “cool.”
  • Accurately describing an item for sale.  I just put a suit and some shirts up on Craigslist.  I mentioned that there is a very slight stain on one of the shirts, although the suit coat covers it.  I SO wanted to ignore that issue and present the shirts as “like new.”

I am certain there are more areas, but these are the five that come to mind right now.  Integrity is a choice you make every moment of every day.

Be who you are wherever you are all of the time.

How is your integrity being challenged?

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How to Be a Life Source

In John 6 many disciples were leaving Jesus because he had said some hard things, so Jesus turned to his disciples and asked them if they wanted to go, too.  Hearing that, Peter asked, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

What a profound statement.

“Why would we go to anything other than a life source?”  Pastor Vince of Lakeshore Community Church posed this question last fall, and the question has continued to intrigue me.

Why would I give my time and attention to anything or anyone other than a life source?

Life sources give life and energy to everyone around them.  The opposite, black holes of negativity, suck life from everyone who comes in contact with them.  People and even organizations (dare I say churches?) can be either life sources or black holes.

It’s a choice.

My dad has always been an encourager, both personally and as a pastor, but several years ago he decided he was going to give life wherever he goes.  As a result he does not listen to negative talk without trying to turn it around to a positive perspective.  As an elder at his church he challenges people who are resisting authority because those people are sucking life from the pastor.  And he is always encouraging me and helping me to dream about what my future could hold.

I want to hang out with him just reading what I am writing.  I love my dad.  And so does everyone else.  The world is his pulpit, and in his wake are people smiling and encouraged by stories, laughs, and prayers.

I am already a bit like my dad in personality, but I have really tried to be more life giving in the past while, and I have noticed how people respond.  It’s addictive.  I love seeing people light up.  People desperately want to be loved, encouraged, and recognized.

Here are a few ways you can become a life source in your world.

1.  Always use a person’s name.  In the checkout line, grab the person’s name and use it like you have known them all your life.  “Hi, Nancy, how’s your day going?”  will change you from another customer into the person who took a personal interest.  9 times out of 10 they will brighten up.

2.  Ask them what their name means.  Only once have I had a person say, “Well, people ask me this a lot.  I was born as a result of an affair.”  And even then it was an opportunity to encourage her and love on her in a difficult place of her life by talking about how beautiful her name was.

3.  Eat chocolate.  What??  That’s right.  If a person has a tray of candies or something on their desk, if your diet will allow it, take one.  That is their way of lightening things up, so you will make them happy by taking one.  When I left my job at Lakeshore, the front desk person said, “But who will eat my chocolate?”  It made both of us smile.

4.  Don’t vomit.  When someone asks you, “How are you doing?” don’t vomit your life all over them.  They walk away stinking and messy.  You don’t have to lie, and you shouldn’t.  Have someone else you can talk to about the hard things, and then remind yourself that God is working on your future.  As a Christian you can know that “everything works together for good,” even when life is screaming something else.

5.  Fill your life with positive input.  Refuse to give prominence to black holes.  Turn off the gangsta rap (the radio, I mean; if that’s your spouse then you have a different problem) and find something else.  No, you don’t have to turn on John Tesh (ugh!).  John Ortberg talks about balcony people.  Get people in your life who are going to cheer you on and dream for you.

6.  Listen, look them in the eye, and ask questions.  Be present when another person is talking.  One of my biggest challenges over the years has been to bring myself fully into every conversation and not be day dreaming or scheming my cool response.  Just be and experience the conversation with your whole being, and the other person will feel validated.

If you are reading this and realizing that you are more of a black hole than a life source, get a trusted friend or counselor and talk it over with them.  Get some perspective so that you can begin to change.  Your life can be so much better.

How are you going to be a life source today?