I was talking with a banker yesterday about integrity in everyday life. He told me that when he was laid off a few years ago, it was tempting to phone it in, in terms of his last week on the job. But he felt that it was important to work until 5:00 pm even on his last day.
That’s what integrity looks like.
What integrity doesn’t look like:
- Phoning it in.
- Withholding information to maintain power.
- Taking credit for other people’s ideas.
- Blaming other people for the mistake we made.
- Threatening behavior – “I will _____ if you don’t _____.” I will leave the church and take my money with me if you don’t let me run the Personnel Committee. Bye. Bye.
- Skimming money off of whatever (donations for charity, etc.)
- Gas-lighting those who disagree with us.
- Saying one thing and doing the opposite.
- Expecting behaviors from colleagues that we would never expect from ourselves.
I have met pastors who are integrity-challenged and maybe you have too. We can do a lot of damage – spiritually and emotionally – if we go about our lives without integrity, especially if we are in ostensibly trustworthy positions: Pastor, Deacon, Elder.
It’s hard for me to love you if you are integrity-challenged, but I’m trying. It’s impossible for me to recommend you to be somebody’s pastor if integrity is not your thing. (Note: it will also be hard for me to vote for you if integrity is not your thing.)
The Good News: we can all do better.
The Bad News: the dearth of integrity in the world makes us cynical and exhausted.
But it’s life-giving to shock someone by doing a lavishly generous thing when we don’t have to. I believe that Jesus lived a life of perfect integrity and I’m trying to be more like Jesus. But it’s a challenge most days.