“In a president, character is everything,” writes Peggy Noonan, outstanding speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. “A president doesn't have to be brilliant. . . he doesn't have to be clever; you can hire clever. . . You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks. But you cannot buy courage and decency; you can't rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.”
What she says of a president is true of any leader regardless of their leadership responsibilities. Leadership character is not optional; it's essential; never a luxury, always an essential. You dare not lead without it.
If one character trait stands above the others, it's INTEGRITY. Embrace this one and you embrace many of the others. Integrity can be defined as “wholeness . . . entireness. . . completeness . . . soundness.” It's what personal health is to your body, what 20/20 vision is to your eyes. Integrity has nothing to hide. It's an open book.
A Psalmist said of David, “And David shepherded them (Israel) with integrity of heart; with skillful hands, he led them.” (Psalm 78:72) That's a perfect balance for a leader. David skillfully handled situations that had no rules, no boundaries, no precedence. And in his character, he displayed a heart of integrity. He wasn't perfect; no leader is. But David was complete, whole, and sound.
You see, integrity:
· Tells the truth every time, not just when it's convenient.
· Means what it says and says what it means.
· Is being financially accountable, wise in handling money, especially another's.
· Is personally reliable; it keeps its promises. When it says, “I'll meet you at 9:00,” it's 9:00 not 9:05 or whenever you get there.
· Is privately pure. No double life that causes shame and disgrace to the family if known.
Are you a leader? CEO of a corporation, bank president, school principal, head coach, maybe a lead pastor, Bible study or small group leader, a parent of teenagers, or business owner. Do you want to shock the world you live in? I mean really rock it? Then. . .
Have the guts to stand strong with rock-solid integrity in a culture lacking moral fiber
Have the guts. . . to not cut ethical corners or take shortcuts ... to not compromise under pressure ... to not mess around when you're out of town ... to keep porn off your computer... to keep your promises . . . to be financially accountable, personally reliable, and privately pure always... .to be honest at all costs ...to do what is right when no one else is looking or when everyone else is compromising ...to not cheat on exams or plagiarize a paper. That kind of life radiates like a brilliant star lighting up the universe (Philippians 2:15)
INTEGRITY BEGINS NOW; not tomorrow or the next day or when you feel like it. Now is the time to be above reproach, to change your attitude, to be pure, honest, trust worthy, to maintain an unbending walk with the Lord.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) Jesus told His disciples they were to live before the world so that the light of their integrity filled character would be so apparent, people would see God in His majestic excellence and glorify Him.