In 2005 Merriam Webster announced the word most often referenced on their website that year. Integrity. So powerful and important a word, many people sought to understand and clarify the meaning. I can remember being surprised so many didn’t know. Things are never quite so simple though, and I was challenged to look more seriously at what it means to be a person of integrity. It has continued to be an ongoing process, and recently was reminded of the importance. From his book God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, Dr. Keller provides an excellent understanding of a person of integrity.
Integrity means being one and whole, not marked by duplicity. People of integrity are not one way in one setting and completely different in another. Are you a churchgoer on Sunday but ruthless in business during the week? Do you say conservative-sounding things to traditional people but liberal-sounding things to younger adults? Do you present yourself as one kind of person online but live as a very different kind of person in real life? We have technology to brand ourselves, creating the image we want to project. We pad resumes, add facts to bios, falsify academic research, do whatever it takes to sell ourselves.
But the wise and upright are driven by integrity, consistency of character. They don’t have multiple selves; a real self is not hidden. It is on display in every setting in every role. With them, you see what you get. Have you seen this behavior in yourself in any area-that you can act one way in one setting or with one crowd but very differently in another? Where do you lack integrity?
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. (Proverbs 11:3)
Lord, I confess that I sometimes “play to the crowd,” but you always see me; you are always there. you have the only set of eyes and opinion I should care about. Let me always live consciously before your face. That will heal my lack of integrity. Amen.