Unraveled: Life without Integrity

When I lived in South America I went to an open market and I got a good deal on a Nike jacket. I immediately had my doubts that it really was a name brand jacket. This was tipped off by the cheap price, the pushy sales person, and the slightly skewed swoosh. I ignored my intuition and bought it anyway. It wasn’t long before it began to unravel and the logo began to peel off. It was an impostor jacket which was not consistent with my previous experiences with Nike products. When products, people, and organizations lack integrity they will unravel.

Integrity is the most important word when it comes to describing the ideal character. A character without integrity will certainly yield an inconsistent and unreliable person. Along with being honest and morally upright, the dictionary defines integrity as “the state of being whole and undivided.” What does it mean to be whole and undivided? It means that your actions line up with your values. It means that you practice what you say you believe. On the other hand, a person who does not have integrity is a flip flopper. He is unsteady, unstable, and untrustworthy in his commitments. Stephen Covey has said that integrity is “the value we place on ourselves. It’s our ability to make and keep commitments to ourselves, to ‘walk our talk.’”

The idea of integrity starts with someone who values themselves by being faithful to the commitments and goals they have made for themselves. Being faithful every day to the commitments you have made, big or small, leads you to being a person of integrity. Daily faithfulness in our personal commitments leads us up an inevitable climb towards integrity. If you follow through on your daily commitments, you will be able to trust yourself. When you trust yourself, it makes it possible for you to believe in yourself. And when you believe in yourself, it leads to a successful life filled with others who also trust and believe in you.

If you do not have integrity with yourself, it is bound to flow into your relationship with others. Those who do not value themselves enough to do what they say they are going to do, cannot be trusted. Ultimately, being a person of integrity is not just about doing what you say you are going to do, but it is about the kind of person you are. John Maxwell has written that “integrity is not what we do so much as who we are.” Jesus has taught that what we do and say flows out of our character. He said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matt. 12:34-35). He also taught that when we say “yes” or “no” we are to mean it and follow through.

A person of integrity learns to do the things they have committed to do even if they don’t like what they committed to anymore. If they said “yes” or “no” they do it. Discipline and integrity go hand in hand. This has applications in our careers, our fitness, our marriages, our spiritual life, and everything that involves us making commitments. Yes, we change our minds from time to time, actually quite often, but we are not allowed to change our minds midstream in order to keep us from following through on our commitments. E.M. Gray wrote that “the successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.” We have to value ourselves and our high purpose as children of God to be able to do those hard things that we said we were going to do.

Integrity begins and ends with the value you place on yourself. We are to value ourselves so much that we would not be dishonest, unfaithful, or immoral. Integrity is key and it begins with us keeping those little promises every day to ourselves and with others. Being faithful in the little things will lead to faithfulness in the big things which then leads to a life of integrity.

For your information, my present wardrobe has been freed of any impostors.

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