KEEPING AN UNSHAKABLE INTEGRITY
He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out. Prov. 10:9
In the whole life of humanity, security is one such essential necessity that man cannot do without. It is what makes life enjoyable and pleasant. In the absence of security there is chaos and confusion. These threaten the life of man and his existence.
What then is integrity? And what does it mean for someone to be secured by walking in integrity? Well, the Oxford Dictionary defines integrity as;
The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
These moral principles help us distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. These principles shape our character. Therefore, before we claim to be men and women of integrity, we must first examine ourselves under these firm moral principles. People who exhibit these principles are said to possess good moral characters.
By definition, moral character is the existence or lack of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty and loyalty. In other words, it means that you're a good person and a good citizen with a sound moral compass - Dr. John H. Sklare
In essence, integrity sums up our entire being and existence. It is a lifestyle, a habit, our character or behaviour and not a status. Integrity is about walking the talk.
In the Christian perspective, it is basically our life. It is the life of God we express outwardly for the whole world to see. In other words what we claim to be must be seen by all. What defines our character? If we claim to be of God, then we must look to Him to understand the character we must possess to call ourselves Children of God.
In the Bible, we see many attributes about the character of God. For instance the Bible says in 1 Cor. 1:9,
God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Again in Deut. 4:31,
For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with which He swore to them.
These scriptures all speak of the character of God, as being faithful and compassionate. And in the book of Hebrews 13:8 Paul speaks of how God’s character is consistent with who he is when he said,
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
His character is consistent with the way he deals with man and his entire creation. Now, that’s someone with integrity!
Many times, people claim to have integrity, when actually their life speaks the opposite. Integrity is about consistency in the character of a person. And this consistency in character is seen in the way in which our values, principles or philosophies are adhered to. In this case it implies a character that is consistent and at the same time continues to improve overtime. The man of integrity is the person, who upholds and consistently adheres to his ethical values. He never allows room for compromise. In the life of a Christian, we look up to God, to emulate his character and express same for all men to see, so that they will see us as children of God and glorify Him.
People with no moral principles will always compromise at any cost. They can do it easily because they have no values to guide their behaviour and conduct. Their character is inconsistent with what they profess. When such a person makes a promises to you, then you just have to get ready for a disappointment. Collaboration with people with no moral principles, especially those we work with can undermine the success of businesses.
This is the reason why companies have values and code of ethics to help shape the way they do businesses with clients while ensuring their employees are also being guided by the same principles. Therefore, for any individual to be able to function effectively in the workplace, he needs to develop and maintain moral principles to guide his conduct.
One typical example of compromising on your moral principles is when you witness your friends engage in something illegal and yet you fail to call them to order. The consequences of such actions are fatal. When Johnson discovered some of his colleagues, a little lower in rank, indulging in thievery at work, he failed to stop them. In his own mind he assumed, they were being treated unfairly at work, so why should this be wrong? When it came to sharing proceeds from the dishonest venture, they asked him to come for his share, but he declined. It was at this point he began to question his morality. This guy has been trying to advocate for truthfulness and fairness in his dealings with other people. He was a staunch Christian, who believed the only way to make it in life is to be true to who you are and not be a hypocrite. Whenever he got an opportunity with the young men and women in his church, he would always use that opportunity to speak about being an authentic Christian even in the face of fierce opposition from the world.
However, on this faithful day, he did nothing. And for doing nothing about the actions of his colleagues, he failed his upheld moral principles. Unfortunately for the group, one person was caught the following morning. The guy exposed everybody in the group. He however failed to mention Johnson’s name as an accomplice. Was it a mistake? Well, your guess is as good as mine. I believe it was because Johnson declined in taking his share, and more so he was not privy to their plans before the act. The unfortunate thing happened, and they were laid-off together with another worker, who only joined the company just the very morning they undertook that act. However, Johnson was not dismissed, neither was he queried about the incident.
In that moment, when Johnson failed to call his friends to order, he compromised himself. That alone should have caused him to be queried or dismissed from his job. You see, to claim you are a man of integrity comes with a price. Maybe, just maybe, the reason why he failed to stop them was to avoid any action that will make them hate him. He might have thought if he shields their actions, they would hail him as a good friend. Maybe he failed because he thought, the salary was too little for the dangerous and tedious work they were doing. But the truth of the matter is, when the time came to test his moral principles, he was found wanting. His foundation was weak.
It is therefore imperative to understand that integrity is about being honest and truthful in all things at all circumstances. It does not matter the situation, you just have to stay true and not compromise in anyway. Like the new employee who joined that morning, he may have been searching for a job for a long time. And finally when he got the job, he is laid off after 24 hours, because he decided to join his new friends in an illegal act, leading to their dismissal.
If we make that choice of walking in integrity, then we have chosen the right lifestyle of portraying the character of God here on earth. Integrity is about making a decision to uphold what is right and true. The oppositions will come, the pressure will be there to compromise. But, if you will be able to stand out as a man of integrity, then you must not compromise your values for anything in the world, you must be known and seen as someone who is authentic. People should see you as you are, and not someone who lives a different live from what he says. As a Christian, you own a duty to yourself and the body of Christ to live a life that expresses the true character of God.
When you step out each morning, you should be focused on guiding people to Christ. Let the world see the real Jesus, by the exemplary life you live as a Christian. You should be firm, bold and courageous in your faith.