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Monday, January 28, 2013

Integrity

Integrity“It’s sometimes easier to do the wrong thing, but it’s always better to do the right thing”

- Tony Dungy’s Mom (Uncommon, pg 11).

Humility is being “humble” or being “humbled.” It is usually better if you humble yourself rather than being humbled by someone else. Being humbled by someone else is usually called “humiliation” and that is a negative word in our culture.

A very positive word for me is the word “integrity.” Of the six words on the whiteboard above my desk – Humility, Integrity, Honesty, Courage, Faithfulness, and Wisdom – I think “integrity” is my favorite.

I don’t think there is a greater compliment that could be given to me than to say that I have “integrity.” Ironically enough – or maybe not so much – is that I have never heard anyone describe me as having integrity.

As I think about it, the reason may be because integrity is intricately connected to the other traits on my list. And when I was younger I was not very successful in cultivating the other traits – as anyone who knew me as a teenager and in college could – to my humiliation – attest.

But I want to have integrity. It has become one of my goals to be a man about whom it will be said, “He is a man of integrity.”

The good news for me is that there is still time. As long as I have a breath in this world, I still have time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to become a man of whom it can be said has integrity.

I strive to be a man who people can count on to do what I said I would do. That hasn’t always been the case with me (ask the same people I mentioned above). I’ve also been working on being a husband my wife can count on and trust when I’m not around her. I’ve worked at that for the last 22 years. Successfully, I believe. So much so that if I were to go away to an out-of-town meeting or event, she trusts that I’m still faithful to the wedding vows I made to her in August of 1991.

While I’m still working toward my goal of being known as a man of integrity, I am encouraged by Tony Dungy, who wrote in his book, Uncommon:

“Integrity is … no respecter of position or wealth or race or gender…. Integrity does not come in degrees … you either have integrity or you do not” (Uncommon, pp13-14).

Integrity is something I have to actively decide that I’m going to have. And I have to decide that I’m going to have it each and every day – even multiple times a day. It doesn’t matter if I’ve got money in the bank or not, whether I’m a Senior Pastor or Assistant Pastor, or whether I’m anything at all.

It matters that I’m a man of God, following in His footsteps, living the life His Son Jesus lived and died to give me.

It is my prayer that my family will be able to honestly put these words on my tombstone:

Here rests a man of integrity.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Character Building: Humility

This is true for me: if I don’t humble myself, I will be humbled by someone – or Someone – else. I won’t say it’s true for others, but I suspect it might be. But, ironically enough, I can only talk about my own humility.

My wife has this saying she pulls out whenever she passes through the living and the football game is on. If a touchdown is made, most of the time the player is dancing his “touchdown dance” she’ll say, “That guy needs to humble himself.”

Yeah, I’m with her on that one. I usually follow up with the comment, “He needs to act like he’s been in the end zone before.”

I know that there’s a difference between joy at accomplishing something and drawing attention to oneself for accomplishing something. There is a deep-rooted desire to be recognized for what we do. I think this is actually a God-given trait; even Jesus basked in the glow of hearing His Father say, “This is my beloved Son.” Twice! But in us it has been tainted by sin in the Fall.

I try to humble myself. After 47 years I finally have the confidence in myself to do this some of the time. But I know that if I don’t humble myself, God is going to humble me.

Football SeriesHe’s reminded me that my life is not “all about me.” I’m not the superstar on this team. I’m not the head coach. I’m not even the offensive coordinator! I’m a player of this team of God’s. I’m part of the team but not an indispensable part of it. When I start to think that the team can’t get along without me, God takes me aside and to tell me that isn’t the case.

“I love you. I really do. But you are not the end-all-be-all of this team. That role can only be filled by perfection and righteousness. You don’t have what it takes to be that guy. If you try you will fail, and I don’t want you to fail! I love you too much for that! Let Jesus take that position. He’s perfectly suited for it. But I still want you on the team and will work with you and develop you into an important part of the team.”

So this is my prayer:

Father, I want to be humble – Godly-humble. Make me into the team member that will help to bring ultimate victory to Your team. Please keep me in Your care. Please continue to work with me, to develop my skills. Please give me the desire and the will to perform to the utmost of the abilities You have given me. And please continue to forgive me when I fall and fail. Thank You for the Superstar of this team, Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.

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