What is Integrity and Character?
Much has been written about integrity and character. Coach John Wooden told his players, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” (Quoted by Brian Biro in Beyond Success, p. 38).
The Heart of a Champion Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Colleyville, TX, that offers educators an innovative and effective approach to developing character in the lives of their students, says, “Character is the inward motivation to do what is right according to the highest standards of behavior in every situation. Character is the combination of qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her responses regardless of the circumstances. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And character comes from your heart …. You have the power to be a person of character; to affect your future and realize your destiny. No other person can make that happen in your life. You alone are responsible for rising to the challenge of being a true champion. Achievements, accolades, appearances, and performances will one day fade away! Ultimately, your character is the one thing that will last, and the one way people will identify you. Dive into this program and be a true champion” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program).
John Maxwell in his excellent book 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader says that there are four things that every person must know about character:
- Character is more than talk
- Talent is a gift but character is a choice
- Character brings lasting success with people
- Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character
How is Character Improved?
Maxwell also offers a four-step plan for improving character:
- “Search for the cracks. Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corner, compromised or let people down.
- Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing?
- Face the music. The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions.
- Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.”
(Maxwell, pp. 1-7)
What Responsibility Has God Charged Us With?
If we are to be the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of integrity and character. God has charged us with the responsibility of being the spiritual leaders of our families and in order to do that we must be genuine and authentic. One author likens this role to a “point man” who takes up his position on the front lines of battle. I have used this quote before in this column, but read again what he says, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster and carry them along in His limitless strength (2Chronicles 16:9). May we be those men! And may He give us the strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing” (Steve Farrar, Point Man, p. 231).
What Do the Scriptures say about Integrity and Character?
Men face many challenges in today’s culture. Satan has many devices to hinder our ability and our desire to be that influence that desires for us to be. The Scriptures are full of passages dealing with integrity and character. Notice a few of them:
Proverbs 10:9 “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.”
1 Kings 9:4 “Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”
Job 2:3 “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
Job 31:6 “Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity.”
Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”
Titus 2:7 “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,”
Philippians 2:22 “But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”
Rom. 5:3-4 “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
How May Integrity Be Rebuilt?
God said that David walked in integrity of heart. And yet David was tempted when he saw Bathsheba bathing, he yielded to that temptation and he sinned. So it was necessary for David to rebuild his integrity. In doing so, he asked God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalms 51:10-11). We can all learn from Job’s example. He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31:1, NLT).
The Bible plan for forgiveness of sin for the Christian is simple: repent, ask forgiveness from the one(s) against whom the sin was committed, and pray to God for His forgiveness and for His help in the rebuilding process (Mt. 18:15-17 and Acts 8:18-24). But when trust has been broken and the marriage relationship has been shattered, the rebuilding process becomes much more complex. During the fifty-six years that I have been a Christian, I have witnessed TV evangelists, personally known preachers and elders, and friends succumb to this sin.
Much has been written to help those who find themselves in such a situation. One writer suggests, “I don’t know of any assignment more difficult (but more worthwhile) than the job of regaining a wife’s trust. She trusted you enough to marry you, but the bond of trust has been broken. So many men just walk away when they have failed and broken the heart of a loving spouse…. They walk away and take their shame and the knowledge that they walked away when they most needed to step up” (Stephen Arterburn and Jason B. Martinkus, Worthy of Her Trust, p. xi) (emphasis mine).
Arterburn and Martinkus outline a plan for rebuilding trust that involves nine “non-negotiables.” If these aren’t present of if they’re deficient, it will be incredibly difficult for one’s relationship to be restored. These items are: Spiritual Commitment, Honesty, Transparency, True Intimacy, Accountability, Open Review of Computer/Internet Use, Sexual Integrity in the Workplace, Restitution, and No Self-Pity.
They also recommend several “tools” to assist the rebuilding process. These include: The Five-Minute Rule, T-30 Journal, Financial Accountability, Twenty-Four Hour Disclosure Rule, GPS Tracking, and Wifecam. I highly recommend this book as is an excellent resource for any man attempting to regain his wife’s trust after admitting to sexual integrity issues (e.g., pornography, affair, etc.).
One of the key concepts that resonated with me and that is repeated throughout this book is the idea of being “intentional.” For example, “When it comes to trust building, free time can be detrimental. We must begin to use our time intentionally and channel it toward a goal” (p.105). In regard to setting boundaries on the job, “Because the work environment can change our persona, we have to be diligent in preserving our sense of authenticity and self. Your new self must be careful with boundaries, intentional with words, and conscientious about how interactions can affect your wife’s heart” (pp. 110-111). In regard to a husband keeping his word they write, “It is incredibly important for you as a husband to be intentional about what you commit to and how you communicate that commitment to your wife” (p.128). And finally, “The journey you’re on is changing you from the inside out. Character and integrity are being woven into the fabric of your being. As such, things will get easier. Truth, trust, and redemption will be more natural and will flow out of who you are, rather than having to be an intentional thing that you do” (p. 191).
If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be intentional in building integrity and character. If we stumble and fall along the way, we must be diligent in rebuilding that character and integrity. Our eternal security depends upon it! Thanks for reading and sharing this website with others.