Wikipedia explains about the origin of the word ‘integrity‘: The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.
Finding people who have a wholesome and dependable character is such a difficult thing to do in the days we are living in now. We see this especially when we are looking for proposals for girls or guys in our churches, that there is no lack of people anywhere, but there is always a lack of genuinity among them. So you may ask, how do I identify a man, or even a woman, of integrity?
Here are five things which you need to look for in the people around you, and more importantly in yourself too. If there is an area that you need to work on or improve, you should seek help or find a solution to it before it becomes too late. A lack of integrity is not very damaging at first, but if not dealt with at the right time, it can lead to a total downfall.
1. Transparency About Weaknesses
One of the best ways of identifying a person of integrity is that, he/she will be willing to share and teach other people from a place of weakness.
Showing off how good one is won’t help others see their raw and real side, but showing the more fallible human side is what helps people relate to that person the most.
It increases accountability in the area of weaknesses. I remember speaking to a brother who had come out of a homosexual lifestyle. He mentioned how he still had temptations. That not only told us that he is genuine and sincere in his heart, but also that he is open and receptive to help.
Proverbs 28:13 NLT – People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.
2. Willingness to Say NO
Quite a lot of us struggle in this one area. If a person doesn’t know how to say a ‘no’ to seemingly good and lucrative things, he might almost always have a temptation at the doorstep. I personally have high respects for someone who doesn’t fear or worry about appeasing people.
If you are constantly plagued by the fear of not knowing how to tell someone you are not interested or that you are not up for the task, you need to get help in this area. So many of our problems and challenges with people will be sorted if you learn how to stand up for what you believe.
It goes without saying that every ‘No’ has to be accompanied by thoughtful consideration or prayer.
Galatians 1:10 NLT – Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
3. Gives Credit Where Due
There is nothing called as a ‘self made’ man or woman. Everyone of us are uniquely made by God and yet people play pivotal roles, and impact us in various ways as we grow in the Lord. Arrogant and proud is the man who fails to acknowledge his mentors or teachers in the Lord. Sometimes they might not be worthy of high or much honour, but a man of integrity wouldn’t keep all the praise for himself. Instead, he would be willing to give credit where its due.
I remember listening to the late Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, where he was mentioning about his senior in research work, who always would credit the team with the success of a project, but own up responsibility individually at the failure of the project. That gives us a lot of insight on the integrity of that man.
If you owe someone something, be honest enough to accept and acknowledge it. It could be as simple as using sermon illustrations that aren’t originally yours, (ouch, that one’s for me!) or as important as affirming your spousal or parental role in the well being that you currently enjoy. Your gratefulness is a great sign of your humility and security.
Romans 13:7 NLT – Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
4. Is Careful With the Tongue
Our days and times have been ruined with the craziest gimmicks of marketing and exaggeration of facts. Many a time, the pulpit and other christian platforms become the proponent of such craziness. The message in James to tame our tongues was so inspiring that we did an entire series on Taming Your Tongue some time ago.
A man who cannot/does not control his tongue, cannot or will not be able to control the character that he manifests. You are not greater than your thought life, and what you speak is a result of your thought life. If your speech is limited to negativity and you are not able to keep up to commitment you make most of the time, so will be the state of your mind, and it will in turn reflect the character that you show forth.
You would rarely find a genuine and successful person in the kingdom of God who talks without any control, or can’t honor his word.
James 3:10 NLT – And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!
5. Constantly Consults God & godly People
Here’s the biggest give away from this post: a man or women of integrity always seeks counsel from God and His people. Not necessarily is he always motivated or driven by what people say, but his ears are always open to good counsel. All of us like listening to good advice. However, a counsel given is good, only when it is generated by the Holy Spirit, sometimes even through non-born again folks like Balam’s donkey.
Consulting people doesn’t make you any less of a godly man. Sometimes, we have this extremely wrong understanding that just because one can hear from God, one doesn’t need anything or anybody else. I like to differ. You still need to submit to leadership, you still need to be teachable, and you still need to be receptive to correction and counsel. I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit while reading blogs, listening to podcasts or even just talking random stuff on the phone. All that matters is how willing are you to receive what God sends your way.
Proverbs 11:14 NLT – Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.
These are five key areas that I would personally look at to identify a man or woman of integrity. Do you have anything to add to the list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.