Faith Identity Relationships

Why Integrity Matters

“Talk is cheap. I need to see some drastic changes or else…”  “or else what?”   

It finally started to sink in. Austin felt this unusual heat as his emotions caught wind of the “Or else.” from his boss. Truth be known Austin had been faking work for some time now. He seemed to convince others he was this personable guy. Friendly. Likable.  Problem was that’s all he was. Nothing more. Self-deception was more pervasive than he thought.

As he hit the gym that night his mind kept going to where he didn’t want it to.  I’m about to lose my internship. If I do, I lose an entire semester of credits. My parents are going to kill me!  Dad will disown me. Kick me out of the house.

Turning up his music louder something kept telling him. “Austin, you’re just hiding from the real issue.” 

That night he tossed and turned in bed.  Couldn’t sleep, so he did what he’s always done when life gets stressed out. A foray of porn and masturbation led to temporary relief until a new wave of shame and guilt came crashing over him again. The sinking feeling was getting worse.

The next day Austin could barely keep his head up at work. “What am I even doing here?” He tried to make an action plan to change things at his internship job, but everything he jotted down seemed so lame. Such a lie. His heart wasn’t into it. That next Friday, Austin was let go.

With only about two months left of his internship and living 400 miles away from his home, Austin realized he needed to save face and find some other job for the next couple of months. He landed work as a waiter. At least there he thought he could get the order to the table and wouldn’t have much chance of messing that up. When his parents called to see how work and life were going, Austin made things sound like it was all going great!  He evaded any detailed questions and was frankly glad when those calls were over.

Overcompensating

Somewhere along the way, Austin compensated for his deep insecurities by trying to be a people-pleaser. It was fun being liked. The problem was he never had close friends because he was afraid if people saw there was nothing beneath his smile and good looks, they’d drop him faster than a lump of hot coal from a campfire!

Although Austin is pro-Jesus, the problem is he sees faith more as a thing you do and not a life you live. His idea of integrity was to get people to like you. What Austin didn’t grasp was true integrity was about the Spirit living His life through you.

Jesus is all about integrity. His word is his bond. Jesus always follows through. Manhood is about knowing you are loved by God and in Him, you have what it takes to live up to your calling. The man who walks with God will grow increasingly in his integrity.

Here are some wise words about integrity.

Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,

    but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. Proverbs 28v18 ESV

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity

    than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool. Proverbs 19vs 1 ESV

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,

    but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. Proverbs 10vs 9 ESV

Helpful Take-aways

  • Integrity is a walk. One foot after another in a direction that aligns with God’s values.
  • Integrity implies consistent truthfulness in any situation, even if it costs you more than you expected.
  • To be a man of integrity builds secure confidence in your life.
  • This is contrasted with the man who is crooked in speech and in his ways of doing things. 
  • Crooked means self-deceived and deceiving others. 
  • A lack of integrity is a guaranteed fail.
  • When you fall because of a lack of integrity, others are wounded by your shrapnel.
  • Integrity can be lost quickly and is restored slowly.  
  • Repentance is the doorway for a man to live by integrity.

Somewhere during his final semester at college, the truth came out that he would not be graduating in the Spring because he failed his internship. Let’s just say there were a lot of heated words with his parents. Austin’s girlfriend even broke up with him over what she was seeing as obvious duplicity in his character. 

Having to take an extra semester to graduate, Austin met a man on campus who became a much-needed mentor. John was a great listener. Austin felt safe around him. John was a sage when it came to his faith in Christ. He didn’t mince words with Austin. At times Austin wanted to run and hide, but John wouldn’t let him. There were some deep, painful conversations, but in the end, Austin began to see that his entire lack of integrity was because he was overcompensating for deep wounds he had since a boy. Feeling rejected and unloved as a kid, he did all he could to be liked. That’s what led to such character deficiencies. But, now, with John’s help, Austin began to turn the corner.

At 23, he finally found himself in a better spot. He was careful in making promises he could keep. He learned the value of follow-through. At times, it was tough, but he matured to the point his integrity-struggles became a faint memory of the past. Most of all, Austin’s walk with Christ took a front seat in his life. Life was finally on track for great things to come!

What’s Your Integrity Factor?

How about you?  On a scale of 0 to 5, how would you score your integrity factor?

0=What integrity?  I’ll lie, cheat, steal and do anything I can to save face.

1=Yeah, that’s for old people. I’ll work on that when I’m their age.

2=I know I need integrity, could someone help me find it?

3=Integrity is definitely something I try to do, but I fall so short. I could use some help.

4=Integrity? Honestly, it’s there and I value it. I do fail at times but my desire is to be a man people can rely on.

5=Integrity. It’s a life-long journey. I won’t ever arrive perfectly, but I know that true integrity and my walk with Jesus are tightly connected.  I want more of Jesus.

Maybe it’s time you got serious about your life and find a mentor.

Warrior On!

Photo credit: Luke Lallement

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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