A few years ago I read a book by Rev. Richard Dortch, of PTL scandal fame titled, Integrity: How I Lost it and my Journey Back. The book was interesting and well laid out. I thought there was bit much of throwing unnecessary stones at a few others, but overall on target. The journey back is the key, for it is the hardest path you will ever climb. Truth is, you will never get all the way back as far as some are concerned. But then, getting back integrity is not about others, it is about fellowshipping with Christ and yourself.
The importance of integrity is encapsulated in a great statement by investing guru, Warren Buffett. Of course it is taught all through the Bible.
“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. If they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” Warren Buffett
Mr. Buffett knows whereof he speaks via experience I’m sure. When a man of Mr. Buffett’s stature in the financial world speaks, you would think people might listen, and that intensely. I have observed that most people looking to hire are looking for energy, the kind that is infectious and so much so that there are actually trainers teaching people how to appear to be energetic. The key here is “appear to be energetic.”
In the line of effort to which the Lord has called me I see the devastation all around as a result of this error. In this line I also see the enormous emphasis of “Intelligence” so called. I understand this, but it is also seriously flawed and Mr. Buffett states the reason, no amount of energy, or PhD, will compensate for flawed integrity. No matter the gift, a lack of integrity will destroy the best efforts based on intelligence and energy.
On the national scene, whether in the field of religion, finance or politics, energy seems to abound. Each representative will let you know very loquaciously that they are the living end, the incarnation of integrity, intelligence and energy. All the while the lies, shortcuts and downright criminal acts are passed off by them and their blind followers as, “Oh, that’s just him,” or in some cases “her.”
Often, good people get caught up in the shenanigans of the pseudo integrity, intelligence and energy of the leaders in any given endeavor and while they do not engage in whatever form the lapse of integrity takes, they, out of the goodness of their heart, place their integrity under a bushel for the sake of…. Mr. Dortch was only one of a long line of such decent people who fell for this. I am glad that he took the path seldom taken and began a long journey back to self-respect and the respect of others who knew and labored with him.
Here’s a good definition of our word, integrity, from Wikipedia:
“Barbara Killinger offers a traditional definition:
Integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honour moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles.”
Mr. Buffett’s treatment of the importance of integrity struck me as one that we who follow Christ should at least put on a small plaque and stare at for five minutes before we write, speak or attend a preacher’s meeting.
I hope you understand that I know that if I expect integrity to be demonstrated by others toward me, I will be nearly as miserable as Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Aside from major disappointments in others, I must reach a point where I am committed to Christ and therefore to integrity.
Studying the concept of integrity is not about others, but about me. What am I? Am I a person of integrity? All of the time? Most of the time? Occasionally?
Am I, Larry Lilly, on the same page as Barbara Killinger thus demonstrating a predictably consistent lifestyle?
James the Apostle put it in his brusque style, James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” No candy coating here, just the idea that you are either a person of integrity, or are not. Brutal may be a better word selection, but then…
Solomon expressed the truth about integrity with this gem of a verse:
Proverbs 23:23, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”
Here’s one from Paul, 2 Corinthians 8:21, “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly
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