I was put in front of some young men this week and asked questions about integrity. These guys call themselves ‘Decision Makers’ because they’re trying to learn how to make good decisions as husbands, fathers and leaders.
I figured I’d empty my bucket.
So here’s my ‘Top 10” on the topic of integrity…
- A lie accompanies every sin. A guy who’s having an affair will lie about it. Stealing from your company by cheating on your expense report includes a lie. If you want to uncover the sin you’re hiding or denying, just look at what you’re lying about … to yourself or others.
- People know when we’re lying. We ‘telegraph’ it. If you don’t believe me, pay attention to what people are saying in everyday conversation. “How’s everything at work?” “Oh it’s great!” Some liars are certainly more skilled, but there’s often a little check in our spirit when we sense what we’re hearing isn’t totally true.
- Sooner or later, everybody knows everything. I got this line from a movie, but it’s actually a paraphrase of Luke 8:17. “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” You might as well set it straight and deal with it.
- “What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say.” Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson under the heading of “hypocrisy”. Another version starts with “What you are…” Point is people decide if you’re a truthful, trustworthy person based on what you do. The more dissonance between what you do and what you say, the less integrity they’ll see in you.
- We feel good about ourselves when we do the right thing. Telling the truth, doing what we say, living with integrity helps us feel good about ourselves and builds healthy self-esteem.
- Telling the absolute truth simplifies our lives. We don’t have to keep up with what we said to whom. Lies beget lies. And truth telling begets truth-telling.
- One of the most powerful things you can say is “I don’t know”. So many lies come slipping out when we’re confronted with a question, we don’t know the answer to. Rather than admit our ignorance, we fake it or make something up. Admitting you don’t know builds credibility. It’s counter-intuitive. People trust you more … think more highly of you when you’re “man enough” to say you don’t know, but motivated enough to go find out the answer.
- When there’s an argument in your head, truth is often at stake. When you find yourself calculating what another person’s going to think or do in response to something, it’s a clue you’re probably dealing with a truth issue. When you come down on the side of truth, the argument stops.
- Silent lies are some of the most dangerous. Watergate, Enron … some of the most famous character failures happened because someone failed to confront lies told by others. Covering up other people’s deception or allowing lies to go unanswered makes them your lies, whether you told them or not. It takes courage to bring a lie into the light of truth, but choosing to pretend what’s untrue is true compromises your integrity.
- Being truthful doesn’t mean being boorish and mean. We all live in ‘glass houses’ when it comes to integrity. No one except Jesus made it through life without some dishonesty somewhere. Christ-followers can come off as the most self-righteous people in the world. We can be uncompromising in our pursuit of living truthful lives but be sensitive and diplomatic when other people are involved.
Sort of an odd verse helps point me to integrity: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
How can a man be consistently honest in a culture filled with dishonesty? By trusting God with outcomes. All of them. We do the right thing. He’s responsible for how it all turns out. He loves us, He’ll take care of us, AND we’ll sleep well at night.
Think and Pray
Being a truth-teller brings truth-tellers into your world. When you take the moral ‘high ground’ and stand in truth, you’ll find others are more ‘straight up’ with you. Even if they don’t raise their game, they’ll remember your honesty ... and they’ll respect you for it.
Jesus, I know that You alone are the way, the truth and the life. Since I represent You as I go about each day, help me to walk in truth and trust You with the results. Let others see You in my honest and humble responses, and may You be glorified in my life. It’s in Your name that I pray, amen.
Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur by trade. But his real passion is mentoring younger men. In 2007, Regi founded Radical Mentoring to help encourage and equip mentors and churches to launch mentoring groups. He has written four books: About My Father’s Business, Mentor Like Jesus, What Radical Husbands Do, and Radical Wisdom. Regi currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife of 47 years, Miriam.