He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. – Proverbs 10:9
What is the single most important trait of a person who desires to truly make a difference in our world today? Some would say it is intellect. After all, knowledge is power in many ways. Others contend it is intensity, that spirit of conquest accompanied by a passion that becomes contagious. Still others suggest it is insight, good old common sense, along with the ability to clearly see certain issues. However, I contend the most important trait is integrity. We have all known people along life’s journey who have incredible intellect, but no integrity, and they are no longer in the race. Others possessing amazing intensity and passion but little integrity have gone the same way.
The same is true of people with keen insight but no integrity.
Integrity is our most valuable commodity. Integrity is that state or quality of being complete, and it is freedom from corrupting influences or motives.
The thesaurus equates it with such words as honesty, completeness, and incorruptibility. Yes, “he who walks with integrity walks securely.”
Each of us lives in four distinct spheres of life and influence. You live in a private world. There is a part of you where no one really goes. Not even those closest to us – our husbands, our wives – know all our private thoughts.
No one invades your private world except you… and the God who knows all your private thoughts.
You also live in a personal world. This is the part of you that you share with a small circle of immediate family and perhaps a few friends who really know you intimately.
Next comes your professional world. This existence consists of dozens or even scores of men and women who, although they do not know you personally, much less privately, know you in a professional setting. Finally, you live in a public world. This is the world in which people have never met you personally or dealt with you professionally, but they have formed an opinion about you. We call this our public persona. The reality of these four spheres raises an important question: where is integrity in life rooted?
Integrity is Rooted in One’s Private Life
Integrity stems from an inner code, not an outer promotion.
Integrity is rooted in that private life we develop alone with God in the secret, hidden place.
We often hear architects, engineers, or builders say, “This building has structural integrity.” That is, the public beauty of a tall skyscraper relies on its private, unseen foundation that is dug deep into the earth and solidly constructed. It is that hidden life of a building that brings structural integrity. It is the hidden life of an orange tree, that unseen root system that digs deep into the earth, that produces those juicy, delectable fruits. And so it is with us. Integrity is rooted in the private life.
What made a man like Billy Graham so influential and so trusted for so many decades? Was it his intellect? Was it his intensity? No. It was, without question, his unblemished integrity that earned him a prolonged hearing. King Solomon had it right:
The integrity of the upright will guide them. – Proverbs 11:3
Integrity is Reflected in One’s Personal Life
Once integrity is rooted in our private life, it begins to be reflected in our relationships with those closest to us.
Many seem to think that integrity is rooted in these close interpersonal experiences, but it is not. It is only reflected there, if, in fact, we are men and women of integrity. If you want to know whether I have integrity, ask my wife or my daughters who really know me in the intimacy of close family relationships. Integrity does not find its roots in the personal world. However, it is certainly reflected there.
Integrity is Reinforced in One’s Professional Life
What about your professional life, that sphere of life that is ever widening? If you have a hidden life where your own integrity finds its roots, it will not only be reflected in your close relationships with those around you, but it will also be reinforced in your day-to-day dealings in the work world. Integrity is reinforced on the anvil of personal experience and practiced in the marketplace.
Our greatest opportunity to make a difference and engage our culture is out in the marketplace. It is imperative that, as Christians, we are men and women of integrity in the professional world around us. There is a small and decreasing percentage of people in our cities in church on Sunday mornings. However, on Monday, multitudes enter the marketplace. They take note of individuals of integrity.
Integrity is not rooted in our professional life; it is only reinforced there. That is, if we truly possess it.
Integrity is Revealed in One’s Public Life
Once we are thrust into the public arena, it is too late to look for integrity. If we do not already possess it, it is too late. However, some seek to put a spin on their personal promotion in a hopeless effort to somehow lead others to believe they are people of integrity. But integrity is not rooted in spin, it’s rooted in our private world. Solomon’s words ring true today: “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.”
When integrity is rooted in the private world, it is reflected in the personal world, reinforced in the professional world, and, ultimately, revealed in the public world for the glory of the God whom we love and serve.
As you memorize this verse, meditate on your own private life. Bring focus to that time alone with God, to your hidden life. Then “all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Excerpted from The Joshua Code by O. S. Hawkins, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2012.
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Even though it will probably be very convicting, take a ruthless inventory of your private, personal, professional, and public spheres of influence. How would you rate yourself in integrity? How would those closest to you rate you? What needs to change? Come join the conversation about integrity on our blog! We would love to hear your thoughts and comments! ~ Devotionals Daily