Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Integrity: What It Is & Isn't


If honor be your clothing,

the suit will last a lifetime;
but if clothing be your honor,
it will soon be worn threadbare.
~ William Arnot

Much is made of the condition we call integrity; and rightly so.

Certainly we want it from our leaders - be they among the body politic, scholastic institutions, employers, churches, the medical community, and even our neighborhoods.


I believe we desire it most from our family members and friends and - hopefully - from ourselves (though I am suspicious about one's ability to assess such a personal condition with objectivity).
After-all, it is among these that we most want integrity's by-product:
trust.

I have had more trouble with myself
than with any other man I have ever met.
~ Dwight Lyman Moody

Integrity derives from the concepts of integration, or integer (a complete number; the lowest common denominator). It implies congruency & steadfastness. In it's broader scope it means ...

1 : firm adherence to a code (especially moral or artistic values); incorruptibility
2
: an unimpaired condition/soundness
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided

Incorrupt ... unimpaired ... sound ... complete ... undivided. Powerful attributes!

While there's plenty of talk about the pivotal role integrity plays in our lives, it's safe to say: There's a lot more to integrity than meets the eye.

It's equally safe to say, even though we speak far less of it: There's a lot more to the lack of integrity than meets the eye.

Isn't that always the way with the flipside of any coin? What looks all lovely on the upside isn't so pretty on the downside.

So what, exactly, does that look like; integrity's lack?

Simply put, it is the chink in the armor that allows one to be duplicitous, irresponsible, dishonest and unethical - both consciously and unconsciously.

Worse, it empowers & enables excuses, rationalizations and justifications. It exempts this behavior or that from the more rigorous demands of the moral high ground (aka the biblical standards for the believer) on the grounds that said behavior is warranted.

You can't learn too soon that
the most useful thing about a principle
is that it can always be sacrificed
to expediency.
~ Somerset Maugham

Most of what is seen of our lives is lived out above ground. Yet it's what takes place below ground, in the root system, that determines how the above-ground condition ultimately plays out, or appears. It's the reason we can say "time will tell", knowing that truth always triumphs.

The strength of a man's virtue should not
be measured by his special exertions,
but by his habitual acts.
~ Blaise Pascal


In the absolute sense, there's only One with perfect integrity; Whose words and actions are 100% congruous and certain.

For the rest of us, it's the challenge of living out our lives in such a way that both the root system and resultant foliage of those lives be incorrupt.

It takes integrity to have integrity.

13 comments:

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

you always give me such good 'meat' here on your blog!

Heart2Heart said...

Kathleen,

Loved the analogy throughout this post. It's what we don't see that develops our character, what we do when no one is looking, much like the roots of the tree. Thankfully we need to keep them rooted in the word, so God can convict us when our actions and words are less than pleasing to Him.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

KelliGirl said...

While there is only One with perfect integrity, I am so thankful to have blog friends, like yourself, and in-person friends who show me what integrity looks like.

Blessings to you as you move and settle in. I have to imagine the Northwest is a welcome change from the blazing Arizona heat. Enjoy!

Grace on the Narrow Path said...

Very well said my friend. May the Lord continue to fill you with blessing.
Bren

Grace on the Narrow Path said...

Very well said my friend. May the Lord continue to fill you with blessing.
Bren

Debbie said...

Great words of wisdom Kathleen.

I believe the Lord is building my character through my present trials. I want to live a life of integrity. Although I'm far from perfect, how thankful I am to belong to One who is perfect in every way.

Love you,
Debbie

Karen Lange said...

You are right!

Blessings,
Karen :)

Yolanda said...

I loved this and it spoke deeply to my heart. Just this morning I wrote in my journal that I desire character and integrity, and it is something that surfaces in my heart and mind often.

Our world is filled with too many lies and hidden aggendas, and I want nothing to do with it; so it has to begin with me. And it can only happen by allowing my thoughts and actions to be Christ like.

Thank you so much for encouraging me!!!

Love,
Yolanda

Saleslady371 said...

Good message about integrity. It is so important in our Christian walk. I liked the definitions and quotes!

Beth E. said...

Ouch...I'm afraid I haven't been living my life with integrity this week. Truth be told, it's been a very rough week in our household. Suffice it to say that (based upon the major fit I threw) I won't win any Mom Awards anytime soon. :/

Just a little something from Judy said...

It is getting harder to know who one can trust in today's world. Integrity is becoming a word of the past. But, what about me? This was a kind, gentle reminder to look at my own use and belief of the word. So often, my quick flippant answers leave the word "integrity" in the dust, as I make promises, or give the expected answers, or commit to something that I shouldn't have. I needed this reminder. Love the verse you shared about where my mind should dwell.

Just a little something from Judy said...

God had you share this post today, just for me. Really...for me. Thank you so much.

Karen said...

Beautifully written...and most of the quotes were new to me....