While driving to work recently, I was listening to a talk radio station. It must have been a slow news day, because the talking head was discussing the “unwritten rules of life.” Callers shared numerous examples of the important rules we should live by; you know, deep things like don’t strike up conversations while in the elevator. As I listened, two thoughts came to my mind…
#1 I really need to get my mp3 player working again.
#2 These kind of rules are interesting, but they’re really not rules by which we ought to live.
After careful deliberation, I’ve decided to spend the rest of this post talking about thought #2.
There are countless plans and programs that help to guide us in the ways that we should live. Books, videos, webinars, and conferences are dedicated to financial freedom, healthy living, and bettering ourselves. People will spend millions of dollars this year on retreats and counseling sessions where they will develop self improvement plans, personal mission statements, and credos by which they will structure their lives. I’m not knocking these things. If a speaker inspires you to improve, then listen. If a book will lead you to higher level, read it. If repeating your confession will focus your life toward success, then speak it. But in the midst of all of this, I am struck with a simple observation. The common thread that runs through all of these pieces is integrity.
Integrity. Think of the people you love and admire the most. Chances are they possess this trait. The bosses you like to work for have integrity in managing your company. A businessman you trust with your hard earned money must demonstrate integrity in their transactions. A loving husband or wife will maintain the highest levels of integrity whether their spouse is out of town or in their arms. Sounds great doesn’t it? We should all operate with integrity – a simple and totally effective life rule. So why then is it so hard to find? Take a look at the nature of integrity and it’s easy to see.
Integrity is difficult. Ever walk away from a gossip session because you knew it was the right thing to do? Ever tell someone you love that they shouldn’t do something they want because you know it’s not right for them? Ever stand alone on a position you know to the correct, even though your courage was mislabeled as stubbornness or insubordination? It’s easy to go along with the group to maintain peace. It’s easy to stay quiet when a classmate or a colleague is being mistreated. It’s hard to maintain your integrity in standing up, speaking up, or denying yourself when popular opinion opposes you. But remember the simple quote – What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.”
So how do we manage to stand up under the weight of those who would lead us from our convictions? Look no further than the power of God at work in your life. True integrity is rooted in the realization that we as individuals don’t have the ability to maintain our position by our own strength. But as Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
As I look back upon my life, I can remember making choices that I knew deep down in my heart that were both right and wrong. Some of those choices were going to make people angry. Some of those choices were answers to prayer. Some of those choices brought glory to God. Some of those choices brought me pain and humiliation. Some of those choices hurt other people deeply. Some of choices I’d repeat without hesitation, and there are some I’d relish the chance to remake. But in any of these situations, how thankful I am to be able to say that I have learned, grown, and have stepped forward confidently knowing that God’s grace is sufficient in leading me toward the destiny He created me the achieve.
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:13 (The Message)