“Integrity is the foundation upon which all other values are built!”
What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?
This question was posed to 2,000 Americans in an anonymous survey. Here are the results;
- Would abandon their entire family (25%)
- Would abandon their church (25%)
- Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
- Would give up their citizenships (16%)
- Would leave their spouses (16%)
- Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
- Would kill a stranger (7%)
- Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
When I look at these stats and consider the way most American businesses and people operate, I think it is clear that integrity is falling behind. However, leaders who genuinely want to honor people and run a respectful business must lead with integrity.
The Bible provides excellent examples of various components of leadership. An interesting narrative in the Bible is the story about Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. This story is an excellent illustration of how to build integrity. These young Hebrew men were recruited into service by King Nebuchadnezzar If you focus on the details, the qualities to make integrity reveal themselves.
As you read these qualities, rank yourself between 1-10 on each quality, 1 being the least and 10 being highest.
1. Leaders make tough choices by doing the difficult right things
Daniel refused to eat the King’s food (Daniel 1.8) because Jewish law prohibited eating food offered in idol worship. He risked expulsion and possibly death by making such a choice. However, he made the right choice by doing the difficult right thing.
2. Leaders treat their critics and enemies with respect.
After Daniel and the King’s wise men were unable to tell the King the dream he had, and interpret it, ordered all wise men executed. However, Daniel approached the executioner with “tact” (Daniel 2.14). The encounter opened the door for Daniel to appeal to the King and interpret his dream. This changed Nebuchadnezzar to change his decision.
3. Leaders build their moral compass around their values.
When Daniel appeared before the King, he told him, “no human could interpret his dream, but that the God of heaven could solve his problem.” Daniel’s commitment to his values and beliefs served created his integrity. Whenever Daniel faced a decision, he always defaulted to what he valued.
4. Leaders are consistent even in the small things because the little things matter.
In Daniel’s later years, he faced what appeared to be a small compromise. The current King, King Darius, was tricked by leaders jealous of Daniel into issuing a 30-day edict requiring everyone to pray to the King. Because Daniel had strong integrity and they could find any character flaws (Daniel 6:4), they resorted to deceit
For decades Daniel prayed to God three times a day, and everyone knew it. Now in his 80’s, he could have easily made a small compromise by praying to God in secret and fake prayers to the King. But that is not what Daniel could do. His integrity caused him to refused to follow the King’s proclamation and was thrown into the lion’s den, where he was later rescued. Leaders with integrity refuse to cut corners, compromise, or give in to the small matters of life and leadership.
5. Leaders model integrity for their kids and grandkids.
With two grandkids, my commitment to building strong integrity and values is becoming more prominent in my life. When I think about what I do and how I respond and react to things and situations, I consider that they will be more apt to model what I do (and did) than what I say (or said).
Centuries ago the Chinese were so fearful of their enemies that they built the Great Wall of China, It was so high they knew no one could climb over it & so thick that nothing could break it down.
But during the first 100 years of the wall’s existence, China was invaded three times. Not once did the enemy break down the wall or climb over its top. Each time they bribed a gatekeeper and marched right through the gates.
Great leaders diligently seek to live, model, and build integrity into their lives. With honesty, we will thrive. Without it, our values lessen, and our souls wither.