I remember some years ago having a conversation over lunch with a young pastor who was in trouble. His church was in conflict, and a ministry that had begun well was about to end badly. It did not have to happen. He was talented, likable and called. But he had yet to learn the difference between pride and integrity, and thinking he was about integrity, he had created and exacerbated personal conflict with church members over issues that weren’t really that big a deal. Everyone paid the price, he the most. He was left in a position where he could no longer lead the church. I have seen the same thing happen in secular work places, marriages, families, friendships, groups, clubs, neighborhoods, etc. Pride tore up people, relationships and even dreams.
Integrity is pretty much on every list of the characteristics of effective living and leaders, and it should be. Integrity is about faith, about the cause, about holiness, humility, right, the truth. It is one of the cores of following Jesus Christ, an unwillingness to compromise our faith and what is good and right. It’s where we find the rules we will not break, the lines we will not cross, and the life in Christ we have chosen. It is the foundation of long-term success in what is most important to us. Humility is the foundation of integrity, being willing to put the cause of Christ, what is right and good, others, ahead of ourselves.
Integrity: a moral compass that doesn’t waver, a wholeness of character.
“The integrity of the upright guides them.” Proverbs 11:3
My guess is that conversations about integrity are not new to church leaders and committed believers. The problem is that often people get integrity and pride mixed up, and thinking they are making decisions and dealing with important relationships from a foundation of integrity, they sometimes damage themselves, others, the cause of Christ and often that which is most important to them. Yet, pride just might be the real motivation. There is a difference.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
“Do nothing form rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Integrity is about Christ, about faith, about love, about the truth, about selflessness. Pride is about us, about me, about my feelings, about self-centeredness.
Integrity in a leader will build a church, in a Christian will strengthen relationships, form and shape that cause the leader is about, focusing on Christ and the mission, on the marriage, on the family, on the important, a focus away from the leader. It is the foundation of a successful Christian life.
Pride destroys relationships, creates division, breaks down churches, marriages, families and focuses people on the leader, his or her personal ambitions, the leader’s feelings and self-importance. Pride limits the long-term life and success of the Christian, church leader and pastor.
For the prideful Christian, everything becomes personal, it always seems to be about them. For the person who is about integrity, everything becomes about Christ, the mission of Christ, the causes that matter. Knowing the difference makes all the difference.