There are many platforms on which we can build. The Bible says the wise man builds his house on the rock. Christ is the Rock. But He was a man of integrity and He taught in Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Indeed we have gone beyond yea and nay to complex contracts and agreements and still find integrity lacking. It is fashionable for business to adapt the concept of integrity – to “think straight and talk straight” to the best of their ability. Some succeed and some did not.
Integrity goes well beyond what we say and mean – to the intentions we wish to convey to those with which we communicate. These can be two very different things. For example, a man with very inadequate qualifications for a role goes to attend an interview and genuinely forgets his credentials . He is extremely well groomed, tall and confident … exuding a confidence that he could handle the job. He arrives at the interview and disarms the panel with a smile and politeness. When asked about his credentials he admits he forgot to bring them. The panel cannot find his CV – somehow it is also missing. They ask him only one question. Do you think you can do the job and are you qualified? He says “Yes, I think so, God helping me” …. The panel quickly decide this is the man. He is offered the job. Six months later he is discovered to be a fraud, who is quick to promise but lacks capability to deliver. Surely God did not help him.
Integrity is not just about adhering to contracts and documents but forensic accountants know well that the lack of it thrives where there are scanty documentation. Where things will not be put in writing – do not search far for lack of integrity. Lack of criminal evidence or documentation that supports wrong does not equate to integrity. Most people with no integrity will never be caught at anything. Most of the motivational hype and exaggerated positivism passing for the gospel in some quarters is far from building on integrity.
A man goes to the negotiating table to deal and gives the impression in his gestures, confidence and clever use of words that he has more resources than he really has to bring to the table. The deal is signed and the partner discovers he has been too trusting and should have slowed down the process to verify some impressions. The ability to creatively manipulate what our words were understood to mean (not necessarily what we said) is the mastery of the one who lacks integrity. The penchant to use communications skillfully to misrepresent situations for disguised benefits is at the heart of Machiavellian success. But integrity, though less popular, is to plainly admit right or wrong.
I heard a case of a student who confessed after becoming a Christian that he cheated at the admission examinations to the university many years back and would rather have his degree withdrawn …ready to start afresh … building this time on integrity. While open admission of wrong, failure or inadequacy is one of the hallmarks of integrity as it creates the opportunity for paradigm shifts and improvements and for new bolder thinking to emerge – cleaving to what does not work is a sure evidence of its dearth. We of course all have wounds we prefer hidden, but we also know these are always like ugly boils hidden under our armpit where the fresh breeze cannot find and heal, but bacteria and flies have a way of reaching to delay full restoration. Everything that God has opened up has been rescued from the arrows of lack of integrity. There is a strong link between transparency and integrity. Freedom of press/access to information and the integrity of the polity are likewise linked.
A pastor once went to his supervising elder and confessed things were not working so well in the parish and that it may be wise to find someone more competent. Many will think this to be a negative confession and voicing of doubts … only a few prayerfully considered that perhaps God had a replacement waiting for this man’s resignation. Where there is no integrity, people cling excessively to protect roles they have no business occupying. Resignation is honorable where integrity thrives. God will need violent processes to uproot some. Integrity requires self-control and discipline and is not achieved in a default mode.
Where there is lack of integrity, positions and views are always changing to protect interests. People do not speak bold truths that could hurt these interests ostensibly because they love God and it is not scriptural to say negative things – but really to protect self from a possible future disadvantage and for fear of change. The (spirit behind) motives for obeying scripture matter even more than the letter. To understand lack of integrity and its result, study the story and nature of Laban in the Bible. Go through the scriptures and carefully understand how Rachel was skillfully used as his bait and how Laban was not caught saying anything wrong or sinful … even once.
Laban would not let Jacob go, and tried to hold on to him with more tricks. What is the result of lack of integrity? It creates an addictive dependence on the flesh … meaning dependence on a person, system, group, interest, God father – anything but God, as lies are needed to cover more lies – and only the flesh (never the Spirit of God) can supply a continued dose of it. There are temporal benefits but the eventual outcome is always mediocrity.
May God give us, our families and our nations – good success as we hearken, trust and obey Him. You can begin to build again. Amen