I suspect that the more you struggle with something growing up – maturing – the more you appreciate it with age. I remember being a teen, and then a young adult, and wanting to be a man of integrity in a visceral passionate way. I wanted it…but I struggled with too many weaknesses and egocentric things to have the consistency that integrity demands. I was a normal-hot-blooded-American-male with more testosterone running through me than self-control and wisdom. Nevertheless ( I love that word), I kept learning, growing, improving, and deepening my walk with God, and consistency followed – and so did integrity. It makes me feel uncomfortable to say I have integrity. It’s a little like humility. When you announce you’ve got it, you just lost it. With integrity, however, as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. You either really have it or you don’t, and your life shows it.
Okay, I’m the first to confess that I’m a long way from perfect. Integrity isn’t about perfection, it’s about commitment and consistency. If I was perfect, it wouldn’t be called integrity but Jesus! Integrity is that desire to do what is right all the time. Why? Because your values drive your life, and they stop being a driving force when you don’t live by them. I get a lot of digs from family about being OCD – which I am not – at least not all of it. I am obsessive, but I am not compulsive, and it certainly isn’t a disorder. (BTY – they are joking when they say it!) I am obsessed about being responsible, about doing the right thing, and about pleasing my Father. I’m obsessed because I don’t like inconsistency. Been there done that! The only way to truly be at peace with God is to let Him rule in everything, everywhere, and with everyone. That’s spiritual integrity. That’s authenticity and honesty. It took me a lot of years to learn it, but that peace is worth the journey.
That is why integrity means so much to me. I’ve heard many definitions – actually more like descriptions – through the years that I like, but they just don’t capture what I understand it to be. Like:
Integrity is the gift you give yourself. (Amen! But it doesn’t tell you what it is.)
Integrity is what you are when no one is around. (Same!)
If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. (Love this, but it’s a result not a definition.)
I couple years ago, for a sermon, I came up with my own definition for integrity. My grand-daughter made me a wonderful framed copy of it and it’s on the wall in my office. Here’s my Rootism for integrity: Integrity is the refusal to compromise character.
Theologians can argue about whether or not some humans are drafted to become angels to work for God in the spirit realm. It’s part of the plot of The Judas Sword. Matt Zampolos has his trip to paradise interrupted because he gets drafted to be an agent for God. I emphasize two qualities that are used to determine who can be drafted. Integrity and courage! The desire to live according to the values of ones character combined with the guts to make it happen, is what God wants from all of us. If that’s true, well…just maybe…people who are angels in this life may become angels in the next life!