A few years ago, at a corporate conference, I had the opportunity to hear a great keynote speech on integrity. The gentleman’s name was Alex Sheen and the non-profit he started was Because I Said I Would. His organization is an “international social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept.”
The story that launched the movement begins with Alex’s father who, in his own words, was “an average man…He was no war hero. He never wrote a book. He never ran marathons. He was a pharmacist. No recognition. No fame. But for everything that made my father ‘average’ and ‘everyday,’ there was one thing he did exceptionally well. He kept his promises. My father was a man of his word.” Truthfully, if at the end of our lives everyone we’ve ever known, met, conversed with, or worked with could give this testimony about us, what more could we ask for?
Contrary to popular belief, there is a difference between high moral ethics and high integrity. Morality is conformity to the rules of right or virtuous conduct. Integrity is the state of being whole or fully integrated. It means that what you say and what you do are in complete agreement. How many times, whether in haste or in jest, have we said something while knowing we had no intention of following through on our words? (I know I’m not the only one guilty of this.) To be full of integrity means that you always keep your word – you always do what you say you will do.
There is something that you and I were designed to do. There are many steps that will need to be completed in order to fulfill our purpose. Our success, our relationships, and our opportunities largely rest on the trust we garner and accrue throughout our lives. Your level of integrity is integral in the implementation of your purpose in the earth.
THE HEART OF INTEGRITY
Proverbs 4:23 says, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Actor Eric Mabius said, “You do have to follow your heart, otherwise you’re living a false life.” A conflicted heart is a heart set against its very nature and out of touch with the object of its desire. If you aren’t honest with yourself, how can you be true to anyone else? With that in mind, what are you willing to devote yourself to completely while in the relentless pursuit of your purpose? If your heart isn’t fully invested in your endeavor, it is far less likely to bear fruit. When I’m preparing to teach at a conference or event I will study and produce the talk and then rehearse it for hours. It may take 7-10 hours of prep time to deliver a talk for 1 hour. But because my heart is devoted to excellence and to serving others, I see this as a blessing not a burden.
Someone once told me that you should never say yes to an opportunity that you don’t have time to bathe in prayer. In other words, if you don’t have time to pray about it then you don’t have time to do it either. Is your heart directed towards being the best teacher, artist, singer, writer, speaker, athlete, parent, professional or mentor that you can possibly be? Be honest with yourself and then make certain that your actions are purposefully and perfectly integrated with your words.
THE HEAD OF INTEGRITY
The most successful people in life have a “why” that is bigger than themselves. How you think will govern how you act. For me, my relationship with and calling from God provide the foundation for my thinking. I believe there must be some external point of reference by which to judge our integrity. You may be able to get away with a lack of follow through with different people but God always knows what you said you would do. Can you exhibit integrity in your relationship with Him? Hebrews 4:13 says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Whether your allegiance is to God, other people, or just yourself, the vision that you have for what you want to build, be, or create will be fortified as you exhibit a greater level of integrity. I can recall times where I didn’t want to go somewhere or do something that I said I would do but I ended up doing it anyway. When asked ‘Why?’, I replied simply, “because I said I would.”