Integrity Matters

What are you doing when nobody is looking?

Someone has said that integrity is what you do when you're out of town and nobody's watching. Integrity is essential for strong ministry over the long haul. We must not ignore the threefold cord of ministry: integrity, faithfulness and honesty.

Integrity. Without integrity, a minister doesn't have a prayer of finishing strong. Some statistics suggest that more than half of those in ministry today will not be in ministry 10 years from now. Why? One primary reason will be lack of integrity. Integrity starts with things such as:

**paying your bills on time

**spending time in the Word

**loving people and using things, not loving things and using people

**living out servant-leadership

**being transparent and honest

**admitting you're wrong when you're wrong

**preaching your own sermons, not some else's.

Faithfulness. Faithfulness starts with your spouse, extends to your family and God's family, and continues on with your stewardship and commitment to the Lord. Faithfulness involves loyalty to your staff and to your congregation. Faithful love covers a multitude of their sins.

With another rash of high-profile ministry divorces recently, we must ask ourselves if integrity really marks ministry anymore. We must love those who fall. But should they remain in the spotlight as ministry examples? Let's raise the bar instead of lowering it in holiness, purity, integrity and morality.

And what about the ostentatious lifestyles of some of the high-profile ministries? Yes, God's blessing does include prosperity, but boasting about planes, cars, clothes and houses does little to equip the saints. I have just returned from an extensive tour of ministries in the South Pacific, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. They are sacrificing everything for Christ. What a shame American Christianity can be at times!

Honesty. Honesty really means being consistent between your word and your actions, your inner and outer selves, and your walk and talk. Honesty knows that truth is God's absolute truth and that it applies to everyone--ourselves included. Honesty avoids exaggeration and embraces simplicity.

I commend to you a rereading of Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster. May this be our pastoral prayer: "Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You" (Ps. 25:21, NKJV). *

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