Integrity is often described as ‘who you are when no-one is looking’. In a world of relativised values, many people believe their integrity to be intact according to their own sense of right and wrong. Others may, however, have quite a different view. But integrity is such a priceless commodity, and one that is consistently valued more highly in leaders than just about any other. So, if action and values intersect with our integrity, how do we ensure that it is shaped appropriately and that we are not perhaps inadvertently missing something?
David was summoned, as a young man, to play music for a distressed King Saul. He was observed by an advisor to the king to have four key characteristics in addition to his skill and the fact that God was with him (1 Samuel 16:18). All these traits were undoubtedly linked in David who later shepherded Israel with integrity of heart (Psalm 78:72) when he became king. They suggest to us, therefore, some HARD questions to ask about our own integrity.
- Honesty – Do I speak or withhold truth in love? The servant said David was “prudent”, or discerning, in speech. Speech reflects our heart motivations. Jesus said that the mouth speaks from the abundance of the heart (Matthew 12:34). Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) necessitates honesty, but seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6) to reflect the love of God in us that He asks us to have of others (1 John 4:11). Love still needs truth, though; withholding truth may not always be very loving, even if it is the easy course of action. Prudence doesn’t mean managing preferred outcomes!
- Accountability – Are there people who are allowed to challenge me? David was a man of “valour”, which implies military and financial means, as well as bravery. In addition to family and friends, leaders can provide great feedback. People of valour give and receive it (and sometimes need to persist wisely, rather than being satisfied with trying once or twice). Seeking this out with humility that avoids dismissing or reacting to feedback can actually help remove rough edges quickly. This may mean short-term pain for long-term gain.