Integrity is the foundation of longevity in ministry and relationships. In today's culture, morality is becoming a slippery slope of excuses that can lead to a fall. It seems like each week or so I hear of another well known leader fall morally. I do not know about you, but for me integrity is worth fighting for! In the ministry world it is vital that a minister is decisive when it comes to establishing moral boundaries.
Morality impacts relationships positively or negatively. A follower of Christ is called to be pure in heart (Matthew 5:8) and to be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2). Paul writes about the qualifications of an overseer (or leader). The statement, "above reproach" has the term "must" in front of it.
For me, I've made some "must" decisions on boundaries when it comes to morals:
- Be a person of my word. My goal is that if I tell someone "yes" or "no" I will follow through with my word (Matthew 5:37). Pride leads to rationalizing the excuses why we cannot have integrity with our word.
- Keep my conscience clear - In life, conflict is inevitable. How we resolve conflict is facing it with grace and truth. Forgiveness must be the currency of our lives as Christians. This means when we are wrong, go to the person and ask for forgiveness. It also means to release people who have hurt you! Paul wrote,"I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." Acts 24:16
- Never ride with a woman alone in a car without my wife. It is a commitment I made to my wife to be above reproach. Billy Graham set a great example to not ride alone in an elevator with a woman other than his wife. Some would say this is drastic, but he is a man of integrity. I do not back down from this because I love my wife and never want to damage my marriage, friends and ministry.
- My wife has all my passwords on all social networking, emails and computer. Integrity says that "I have nothing to hide, I am an open book." Integrity opens the door to trusting relationships.
- I do not counsel women or female students alone. It is imperative that women counsel with women and men counsel with men. For instance, it is wise to counsel alongside my wife Cassidy so she is able to become close emotionally with the female student. The danger that arises in any relationship is the emotions. Many leaders in churches have fallen due to an emotional attraction that led to physical. You see, emotions lead to the physical. Men of God, stand for integrity and make a plan to not put yourself in slippery situations that could damage your family, ministry and ultimately your relationship with God!
- Always have a "Paul" in my life (1-2 Timothy). I have a few mentors in my life who ask me the hard questions. I am grateful for family and friends in my life that keep me accountable. Every church leader must have a mentor, no matter their age or experience. It is also important to have a "Timothy" as well to mentor at the same time.
One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Daniel. He exemplified a life of integrity (Daniel 6:4) that left the accusers silent!
Are you a person of integrity? Are you an "open book?" We need to fight FOR integrity no matter what. It is a battle worth fighting!