Integrity for Such a Time

We were smitten. The new slick-dressing young minister in town had all the "street-cred" I and my high school friends valued. He'd messed with drugs and led his own rock band, but told us he'd left it all behind for Christ.

He strummed the guitar like nobody else and ran circles around us on the basketball court. But more than anything, he exuded spirituality. When we remained seated for prayer, he knelt, hands pressed fervently together in clear devotion.

He was our counselor and mentor. He was quickly becoming our hero. So we were unprepared when one day he was gone. Word filtered back that he'd suddenly left his wife and eloped with the secretary. Our hero was gone and never coming back.

Something sort of died that day. Maybe it was our wide-eyed idealism. Perhaps it was our sense of trust. Can you relate? Someone you look up to, someone you trust, proves as stable as shifting sand. First you are in disbelief; then you're hurt, devastated and angry.

You're tempted to pull a little further into a cynical shell that says, "I will to my own self be true, for I can trust no other." But inwardly you hold fast to a longing for something and someone whose integrity is sure.

Groucho Marx once quipped: "The secret to life is honesty and fair-dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made." The irony today is that so many have followed Groucho's words to the letter, and they've discovered it to be just what he intended—a joke.

My quick definition of integrity means "solid to the core." What the outside promises, the inside delivers.

Integrity is old-fashioned. It's not glamorous or necessarily in style. But without it, bridges collapse, relationships crumble and your bank becomes a house of cards. Without it, even the most outwardly spiritual man or woman is just another scam. I've met non-religious folk whose simple integrity puts some Christians to shame.

Integrity is best revealed, as the Bible says, in being faithful in that which is least. It doesn't require perfection. It requires being real.

Parents, your kids need that. Teachers, your students long for it. Christians, a cynical public is desperate for it. At a time when our world is reeling, old-fashioned integrity has suddenly become a treasure beyond any price.

When Ellen G. White spoke of the world's greatest want of people true to duty "as the needle to the pole; who would not be bought or sold; who would stand for the right, though the heavens fall..."

...she spoke to us, to you and to me, for such a this.

February 01, 2009 / Let's Talk