January 26, 2009


By Elijah Brown

Integrity is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “1. Firm adherence to a code especially moral or artistic values; 2. An unimpaired condition; 3. The quality or state of being complete or undivided.” Integrity is: Incorruptible. Unimpaired. Undivided.

Leadership expert John Maxwell defines integrity as the most important ingredient of leadership and writes, “A person with integrity does not have divided loyalties (that’s duplicity), nor is he or she merely pretending (that’s hypocrisy). People with integrity are ‘whole’ people; they can be identified by their single-mindedness. People with integrity have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. Their lives are open books.”

In a world full of shifting morality, shaky business standards of short-term gain and overheated claims of hype, do you feel the contamination of standards of this world? I need to personally confess; far too often I utilize these standards as the judge of success and validation. I am not all that I appear to be. Image is not everything.

My heart cries out for a radical discipleship of radical honesty – pure, complete and unwavering. My heart cries out for a return of integrity in our government interaction, our business practices, and our churches and denominations. Integrity that is honest enough to admit our own limitations, bold enough to recognize our need for each other, strong enough to accept diversity, loving enough to brace each other, and courageous enough to forge Godly character in the fire of everyday otherwise unobserved decisions.

Psalms tells us that God choose and favored David because whether as a shepherd in the field or as a ruler in the head office, “David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” (Ps. 78:72)

Whatever our role, whatever our ministry, whatever our organization, it will all rise and fall on the basis of our integrity. And the good news is that integrity can be built. It takes time. It takes consistency. It means being faithful in the small choices. But if as emerging leaders we invest in integrity in our individual lives and in our corporate structures, we will reap a harvest of global impact.

True leadership and influence rises in direct proportion to integrity. Grow your integrity and God will grow your influence. Integrity builds individuals of great character who cast a great shadow. Integrity is corporate communities that build authenticity and global impact. Integrity is the key to leadership. To end with one more quote from Maxwell:

“Though you cannot go back
and make a brand new start, my friend.
Anyone can start from now
and make a brand new end.”

** Maxwell quotes come from John C. Maxwell, “The Most Important Ingredient of Leadership: Integrity,” in Developing the Leader Within You, 35-47. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993.

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