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At a recent conference I attended a very good message was presented by Mr. Robert Dick, who explained from the Bible, the importance of the Role of Character in Leadership, as well as Integrity. Integrity is defined in Chambers concise dictionary as: "entireness, wholeness, the unimpaired stated of anything, uprightness, honesty, purity". He explained the difference between Godly Character and Integrity and how they go hand in hand. Words do not always express the full meaning that is intended and sometimes different translations of a word add a little. The New King James Version of the Bible states: "Evil company corrupts good habits" while the New Living Translation states: "Bad company corrupt good character." The Greek word from which habits or character is translated is also translated as manners in the King James Bible and it is "ethos". Ethos carries the meaning of habit, manner, custom or wont. Chamber's defines character in a brief way as: "the aggregate of peculiar qualities that constitute personal or aggregate individuality: especially moral qualities". Chambers goes on with further detail. The meaning maintains the caution and warning from Paul that we need to be careful of the people we associate or mix with and we need to be making sure that we are building on the foundation of truth that defines godly character. Paul explained to the Galatians that they should try to restore one overtaken in a trespass with caution lest they also be tempted (Gal. 6:1). Paul also practiced the principle of caution in his work lest he became disqualified (I Cor. 9:27). Peter also was concerned that brethren could fall from their own steadfastness and be led away with the error of the wicked (2 Peter Pet.3:17).
Godly character is what you do and the choices you make in your thoughts, words and deeds when no one else is around except God who is always watching. Job noted that God is a "watcher of men" and tests us every moment (Job 7:17-20). God wants to see our progress and how we are building the spiritual side of our lives. Jesus spoke of the need for a wise man to build his house on a rock (Matt. 7:24). Jesus Christ is that Rock a converted person builds on. The Bible contains many examples and explanations of the attributes of character God is seeking. When we learn of His values we are not to compromise them in how we live our lives.
Paul makes a partial list of the good and bad character points that appear in a person's life. He calls the bad the works of the flesh and the good the fruit of the Spirit and admonishes us to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-25). Walking in the Spirit means to strive to apply the understanding of goodness in God's terms in our thoughts, words and deeds. That is something with which each human needs the guidance, support and assistance of God. We receive that after repenting as we acknowledge our sins and the great offense we have been to our Maker, accept the generous and loving gift of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit which God gives with the laying on of hands from His ministry (Acts 2:38,39 Acts 19:4-6). The ordained ministry of Jesus Christ and thus the church play a vital role in our lives.
Character and the values of God are something we must grow into. We are involved in the building with His help, of a reliable ability to always choose His way. All people have flawed character based on their human experiences and education. All people need to change and take on the nature and character of God through consistent, daily effort in making choices that develop the right patterns within. Peter tells us to exchange human nature for His godly nature and gives a pattern of living with things we are able to do and are called to do. We can build and establish His character with His help.
Integrity is slightly different from character. We are able to build character by making right choices, but our integrity is what we protect by making right choices as Robert Dick pointed out. Integrity is one of the basic positive character qualities, so there is a relationship. The definition of integrity shows the consistency between word and deed or "the perceived degree of congruence between the values expressed by words and those expressed through action." Character is that which becomes engraved in our hearts and minds. Thus we see that integrity has to do with preserving the reputation or qualities we have obtained in our character. Character changes for the better as we take on God's nature. Integrity does not change in the same way.
A number of scripture define integrity in the Bible. Here are some: Gen. 20:6 Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 1 Kings 9:4 Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness…, Job 2:3 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause." Psalm 25:21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. Psalm 78:72 So He shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart… Proverbs 10:9 He who walks with integrity walks securely… Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright will guide them… Proverbs 19:1 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. Proverbs 20:7 The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed… Titus 2:7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, The character crisis we are experiencing now in this world, is based on the reality that people have lost the straight lines of God's moral compass. God stated that a king was to read the Bible every day so that he had the tools with which to govern and rule justly and rightly (Deut. 17:18,19,20). He was to write a copy for himself. Writing instills knowledge and helps us recall truths. The purpose was so that the king would remain humble and maintain the straight course of God's values and truth. God's people have given up their former habits and manners that are contrary to God and are working to instill His way. Integrity safeguards that work that God is doing in the hearts of everyone who truly believes. Developing the mind of Christ is a lifelong matter and devotion of the whole self and is what God asks for. Christians are to walk uprightly in all situations and not be turned aside or easily misled. It is the word of God - the Bible that bears the truth, and it is the person who wholly gives himself or herself to walking in the way that enters by following the voice of the Shepherd (John 10:1-5).