Excellence with Integrity
We of all people should know how God distinguishes right from wrong, and how one should act, as a believer in Christ Jesus. It is only right that all Christians should be concerned about cultural mores, standards in which we all share, especially within the Christian faith which offers such a positive appraisal in the conception of God and His will for living and serving a King and His kingdom.
Excellence with integrity is more than a doing a good job. It involves more than performing the bare minimum. Perhaps the best way to define excellence with integrity is to describe what it is not. Excellence does not imply mediocrity or complacency. It is not doing something of poor quality or throwing together a poor project. The opposite of excellence is inconsistency and unreliability, leading to untrustworthiness. On the other hand, a person with a spirit of excellence, who walks in integrity, can be trusted to do quality work every time without question, no matter the task. Excellence goes hand in hand with integrity. The character of an individual can be judged by what they do when no one is watching. The one who still strives to do things with excellence even when no one else notices is a person who desires a moral compass that always points towards integrity. That is a person who can be trusted. Their spiritual compass is obvious to all!
Perhaps no text of Scripture captures this thought more succinctly, and yet comprehensively depicts how this is to be maintained, than Acts 24:16. Paul said to Felix, “I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” It reveals that at the heart of integrity is the determination to live comfortably in the presence of God with a non-accusing conscience. In the secret chambers of our thoughts, the murky waters of our motives, in our imaginations and fantasies, to maintain a conscience void of offense.
Webster’s tells us integrity means “an unimpaired condition.” It means to be sound. The Hebrew word for integrity, tom, also means to be complete or solid. The words of Louis Adamic seem fitting, “There is a certain blend of courage, integrity, character, and principle which has no satisfactory dictionary name but has been called different things at different times in different countries.” Our American name for it is guts or courage. Integrity is essential in the church, in the marketplace, and especially in the home (Adamic, 2010, p. 35). When a Christian or church leader walks in integrity, they leave it as a legacy for their children to follow. (Proverbs 20:7)
The Holy Spirit is calling His shepherds and His church back to a walk of purity, holiness, character, and integrity. It cannot be overstated—integrity is completeness or soundness which leads to Biblical patterns of joy, contentment, and wholeness. You have integrity if you complete your assigned duties even when no one is looking. You have integrity if you keep your word even when no one checks up on you. You have integrity if you keep your promises even though it may cost you something. Integrity means the absence of duplicity and is the opposite of hypocrisy. If you as a Christian are a person of integrity, you will do what you say, what you declare. You will do your best to fulfill what God has called you to both “be” and “do.” Integrity also includes financial accountability, personal reliability, and private purity. A person with integrity does not manipulate others. He or she is not prone to arrogance or self-praise. Integrity even invites constructive and necessary criticism because it applauds accountability. It’s sound. It’s solid. It’s complete. One cannot be a person of integrity without becoming a person of character. (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13; Romans 5:3-5; Acts 20:35)
Michael Josephson [Josephson Institute of Ethics] says that there are three qualities essential to good character. “First, people of character have good principles. They believe in honor, integrity, duty, compassion, justice, and other ethical values. Second, people of character also possess two emotional or psychological qualities that help them live up to their values: conscience and courage. Third, is moral courage, or willpower, something to help us do the right thing even when it’s costly, risky, or unpleasant.” (2013)
Pastor Bobby Mullins of Central Church in Tennessee wrote that one of the reasons some church leaders and those in the pews have lost their integrity today is because of their self-ambition, or a deluded desire to compete with other churches or church members who appear to be successful. He reminds us that the Bible says that whatever we do, we should do it heartily (Col. 3:23) and our focus should be on pleasing the Lord, not receiving the accolades of what the world views as success. (Mullins, 2001, p. 91)
Let’s consider these three imperatives for Christian conduct:
- Ethics is about knowing and being committed to doing what is right, good, and proper at all times.
- Persons of character seek to avoid doing bad things: e.g. lying, cheating, stealing, revealing confidences, abusing others, and improper conduct.
- Persons of integrity seek to do good things: e.g. to be truthful, fair, helpful, compassionate, and accountable.
Integrity is considered the quintessence and application of character. It is the spiritual demonstration of who we are in Christ and that our faith is real and backed up with our attitude, word, and a life lived-out for His glory. The absence of integrity is an indication that we as Christians are at best ineffective and useless, or fakes and frauds at worst. When we as leaders carry out corrupt deeds or do not keep our word, we are misrepresenting Christ’s good name and living a life of hypocrisy. Remember, the willingness to model Christ’s character is far more vital for believers today than the willingness to just talk about Him, attend church, and give offerings. God wants His people to be authentic – not pretentious – because churches and their congregants are the Bible that non-Christians read. (2 Cor. 8:9)
Meet the Author
Alan Bullock has a BA in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling, and an earned Doctor of Theology. In addition, Alan is a Certified Pastor Counselor, a member of The International Association of Christian Counseling Professionals (IACCP), and also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC).