One thing I find in short supply at times is, unfortunately, integrity. I think that’s part of the reason we value it so much when we find someone who actually displays it.
It’s a breath of fresh air.
However, it’s one thing to know you might lack integrity in certain areas (like your sex life), but something else entirely to learn how to develop it.
Integrity is about more than just doing the right thing.
It’s about building the kind of character that can survive a crisis intact. In the same way that a building with integrity can survive a storm, a life that has integrity can do the same.
So how do you build integrity?
1. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Of all the lies we tell, the ones we tell ourselves are the most deadly. Question your motives. Stop justifying what you know to be wrong. Stop excusing yourself. For example, if you click a link with a picture of a beautiful woman, ask yourself, “Did I really want to read that article that badly, or was it just an excuse to get an extra helping of eye candy into my diet?”
2. Seek wise counsel. We all have blind spots. It’s one thing to be honest with yourself, but sometimes we are simply blind to faults others can see. Find three or four people who believe in you and ask them for feedback on your life.
3. Decide to honor God, not please people. Doing the right thing is not always easy, and sometimes it’s not the popular thing. Honoring God is not the same as believing you are always right and everyone else is wrong – it simply means you are going to live with a long view of what to do, informed by scripture. It means enduring short-term pain for longer-term gain. To avoid becoming arrogant or deluded, make sure you test what obedience looks like for you, not only against Scripture and prayer but also with your circle of wise counsel (see point #2). They will see things you can’t see.
4. Be appropriately transparent. We’d all like to be something we’re not. Admit your shortcomings. You don’t have to tell everyone what you’re struggling with, but you need to tell someone. Part of being honest with yourself is being honest with and accountable to others. And as much as you might be afraid that everyone will think less of you, living transparently and not pretending to be someone you aren’t actually makes people think more of you. It’s counter-intuitive. It’s also transformative.
5. Put yourself first when it comes to personal growth. I know that sounds selfish, even unbiblical, but I’m not sure it is. Jesus prepared for thirty years before ministering for three. And during those three years, he often disappeared to pray. You can only give from what you’ve received, and he spent whole seasons of his life receiving from God what he needed to give to the world. Cancel some appointments. Get up earlier. You need to build a solid spiritual, emotional and relational foundation for your life. Pray. Open the Bible (for you – not for anyone else, pastors). Go for a run. Eat something healthy. Go for dinner with a friend who gives you life. If your cup is empty, how are you going to fill anyone else’s?
These are five practices I’ve found helpful in my life.
What have you discovered that helps you build integrity?