Your integrity is more about your direction than your perfection.

Our ability to influence others is directly proportional to the integrity of our lives.

Without personal integrity, people feel cheated and cynical, for you have said one thing, but done another. The charge of hypocrisy is then justified, from our homerooms to our boardrooms, to our families, businesses, churches, and communities, short-circuiting influence and diminishing what could have been so great.

Integrity is critical to influence.

But integrity does not mean perfection. Having integrity does not mean we never mess up, that we never fall short.  In fact, unless you are talking about something mechanical or structural (in which case I’m kind of hoping that the integrity a bridge or a jet means something close to perfection!), then integrity signals more of our direction than our perfection. When we buy the idea that integrity means perfection, we increase our chances of hurting our influence, for who among us is perfect?

Instead, personal integrity means being honest about where we are at with respect to our higher ideals or goals. We state where we are failing, where we are growing, and where we need help. Integrity means that we don’t hold up a false front suggesting we are more than we say we are, or even that we are more than we are hoping we are! No, integrity comes when we are transparent and honest, authentic with who we are and deliberate about ways we need to grow. And more than that, when we model integrity as direction and not perfection, we are able to invite others to become more honest and open about their growth and their struggles, which will help us all learn and grow together.

So how do we do this? First, by being more honest with ourselves about where we are actually at–naming our failures and reflecting on our steps, humbly and with candor. And then, in ways that are appropriate, opening up to others about how we are growing and failing, reaching but also falling back.

I believe that the more authentic we are about our own attempts to live lives worthy of God’s high call, including our losses and missteps, the more integrity we will have. And the more integrity we have, the influence we will have. And with more influence we have, the more transformation we will experience together, as we come, step by misstep, through surges forward and wanderings throughout, toward all that God has for us.

 

2 thoughts on “Your integrity is more about your direction than your perfection.”

  1. It is hard to be forthright and honest ,in an attempt to live in integrity , when folks are not open to believe the truth about what one know about ones self. They love to pat you on the back and say “don’t be so hard on your self”. How does one be completely open and vulnerable when folks patronizing one and giving a dismissive response? I don’t think most are ready for gut level honesty from others b/c it makes them feel too uncomfortable.

    1. I think you are right, Val. And there are certainly times when people react to our honesty with a kind of “it’s okay, we love you, don’t worry about it” that probably comes both from an attempt on their part to love you, as well as a feeling of uncomfortability at your openness.

      But I would be wrong to not point out another possibility. Some of us are too hard on ourselves! And we do need others to balance that. I’m not saying that is true in your case, but I do know others who are constantly speaking negatively about themselves and grinding themselves down. And while there is likely some truth to what they are saying, and they are being candid and open about areas they need to grow, they also may need some one to pull them up a bit, to remind them that they are loved and precious and not viewed by God in a harsh way.

      Perhaps the main thing is having those few relationships–sometimes only one–where we can be fully heard as we share our struggle, and then be responded to in a way that affirms our struggle without patronizing us, and then also encourages our spirits as loved children of God. There will be others around us with whom we may not be able to be as open about our journey, because they are not ready to hear it.

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