Integrity: The Parent of Character
- Monday, October 17, 2011
Integrity is more likely to produce character than character is to produce integrity. In fact, integrity is the parent of character. You may find a person who doesn’t have much character, but if he has integrity, he will eventually build character.
I’ve seen young people whose parents were not Christians and had no interest in Christianity. Some of these young people got saved and allowed the Holy Spirit to work in their lives and produce integrity in them. Before long, they were saying, “I want to do right. It doesn’t matter what anybody else says or does, I’m going to do right.”
A person like that will eventually develop character. Character deficiencies are really a result of a lack of integrity.
If a man has integrity and he sees a character deficiency or a character flaw in his life, he will say, “I need to deal with that. I can’t let that character flaw stay in my life.”
Nobody is perfect; that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about steel that is sound. We’re talking about the steel of resolve on the inside of a person’s soul: the resolve to do that which is right.
Integrity is more than good habits that have been formed. I’ve seen people form good habits and then go bad. Why? Because even though they had good habits, they didn’t have the integrity to undergird and support the good habits.
Integrity is a determination of the heart. Integrity is the unwavering determination in the heart to do right no matter what.
When I’m afraid, I must do right. When I’m not afraid, I must do right. When my emotions try to lead me the wrong way, I must have integrity. I must do right. When my emotions are doing fine, I must do right. When I’m among the heathen, I must do right. When I’m not among the heathen, I must do right. When I’m among committed Christians, I must do right. And when I’m among Christians you can hardly tell apart from the world, I must do right.
When my friends stand with me, I must do right. When my friends attack me, I must still do right. When my friends turn on me, despise me, make fun of me, and put me down, I must still maintain integrity. If my wife and children stand with me, I must do right. If my wife and children don’t stand with me, I must do right. When it’s easy, I must do right. When it’s hard, I must do right. When there’s no cost, I must do right. When the cost seems high, I must do right. When people like it, I must do right. When people don’t like it, I must do right. That’s integrity.
If there is anything that is needed in young men today, it is that kind of integrity. Young men simply need to have the resolve in their hearts and souls to say, “I will do right. I may not feel like it. I may not get any support or encouragement. But I’ve got to have integrity and I won’t let it go. I’ve got to do right!”
Integrity is that thing in a man or a woman that says, “I must and will do that which is right.” Period. No question marks.
A man of integrity tells the truth. Period. He tells the truth when he is under oath. He tells the truth when he’s not under oath. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said,“Let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay” (Matt. 5:37).
My wife and I taught our girls that they would get into more trouble for telling a lie than for anything else. Parents, teach that to your children. No matter what you do, no matter what it costs you—tell the truth.
A few years ago, a college sports team won a championship game. After they did, the coach discovered they had ineligible players on the team. Without anybody forcing him to do so, the coach stepped forward and relinquished the championship trophy. Without waiting to be found out, he brought the trophy and gave it back. That’s integrity.
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