1. Standing With Integrity
Points to Ponder:
In our previous curriculums we’ve studied together the basics of a life of faith, the source of our value, and the joy that comes from a life of service. We’ve experienced how when we live by these principles they lead to a life of joy and fulfillment.
As we cultivate these good habits in life, we become people of integrity. As such we often feel a natural desire to share and impact our larger surroundings and share with others the values that have so positively impacted us. However, it’s not always that easy.
This month we want to focus on cultivating the confidence to stand for your values, even in the face of contrary beliefs and opinions.
Of course, we might find it challenging to fully live by our principles and values all the time. When we’re in an environment of like minded people (church community, GPA, friends with the same values) it’s much easier to maintain our integrity. When people are encouraging us, fighting for the same goal and objectives, we find ourselves motivated to make effort. Often, however, when we find ourselves in an environment where no one is motivating us or holding us accountable, our integrity is challenged and we might not be as confident to stand for and live by our ideals. This could be in school, in the workplace, or even in our own families.
We may find ourselves compromising which leads to an internal dilemma. If in a particular moment (think conversation with a friend, discussion in class, peer pressure) we don’t stand for what we believe, later we conflicted – because that’s how our conscience works! We end up judging ourselves, and if we find ourselves in similar situations repeatedly, we might resign to compromise and going with the flow rather than taking the risk of being judged or ridiculed when we seek to redeem ourselves and act in a way that aligns with our values or beliefs.
Why is integrity important?
Integrity cultivates respect, confidence, pride, and a sense of value in ourselves, but also a pride and conviction for the values and beliefs we represent. People of integrity lead clear and conscientious lives. They trust themselves to act consistently regardless of what environment or situation they might find themselves in.
When you have this sort of perspective towards yourself, you naturally win the respect, trust, and admiration of those around you. This foundation endows us with leadership qualities which we integrate into whatever roles we might have now or in the future: son/daughter, wife/husband, mother/father.
How do we cultivate the courage and confidence to be people of integrity in all environments?
On the foundation of identifying your values and beliefs, reflect on experiences where your integrity was challenged and you weren’t happy with how you responded. Determine that when presented with another opportunity, you would want to respond differently, and thus need to prepare.
Integrity is built on the small everyday efforts we make. Thus, taking time daily for HDH, prayer, and setting internal goals, creates the foundation to be ready respond when an opportunity presents itself. God will always give us the opportunity to practice taking a stand. However, if we’re not intentional, or are trying to avoid taking that challenge, we’ll miss those opportunities to step out of our comfort zone.
When we succeed in taking a stand for our values, it’s important to claim our victories – small or large. Sharing your experiences with others empowers them to also make an impact. Building this habit brings with it joy and pride, and helps attract like minded people who feel empowered to stand with you.
For example, have you ever been in a situation where someone makes a derogatory comment about religion, or cults, or God, that is counter to what you believe in, but you were too shy to say something? Think of how the next time such a situation comes your way you could respond with integrity and compassion. “That’s an interesting opinion, I’ve actually thought a lot about that, but have a slightly different viewpoint/I see it differently…”
Is there a co-worker you’ve struggled with in the past? How can you move towards trusting that there’s something you can learn from her; God might be presenting you with an opportunity to practice patience, forgiveness, and an embracing heart instead of complaining and dismissing them.
If you’re taking a class, practice going into the class with the intention to confidently share something that might be counter to the popular opinion of the class, but is in line with your values and convictions. “How can I step up in a way that allows me to identify or attract really conscientious people around me?” “How can I compliment someone I noticed has integrity and stands for universal principles that align with my values?”
Ultimately we want to become people who are not just reactive to what might come our way, but who take proactive steps to radiate a life of integrity as a subject in our environment. Cultivating such a character attracts like minded people and allows us to establish relationships where we can share our life of integrity with others.
Discussion questions for before/after the reading:
- Share an experience at work, in school, in friendships where you acted with integrity? What gave you the confidence to do so? How did you feel? How did people respond?
- Share an experience where you felt challenged to act with integrity? What made it difficult? How did you feel? What could you do differently the next time you’re presented with a similar situation?
“God, the earth and humankind are within me. The mind is in the subject position and the body is in the object position. Since the mind is the center of the body, we have a will, a worldview and an advocacy. The person in whom these three are united is called a person of integrity. A person of integrity is a conscientious person whose body moves according to the dictates of his or her mind. She is one who can control her body with her mind. This is why the mind is the center. The mind represents God and the body represents humanity. God has dominion over the mind, the mind has dominion over the body, and the body has dominion over creation.” – TF, CSG (26-184, 1969.10.25)
“A man of integrity acts according to his commitments. I am such a man. Because I am that kind of man, I did not perish even though I was persecuted.” – TF, CBMG
“The New York Times, The Washington Post and other major newspapers slandered me, accusing me of committing all kinds of wrongdoing. After I came to America, however, I did not engage in even one instance of wrongdoing. By day and by night, I have stood tall. I have always lived as a man of integrity.” – TF, CBMG
“…the more you should offer conditions, firm up your outlook, and go forward with integrity, following your beliefs and principles, as one in whom God can place His trust. If you do so, you certainly will overcome all obstacles.” – TF, CSG
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
“Anyone can be great because anyone can serve.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
– Albert Einstein
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” – John Wooden
Make a list of 5 of your core values or beliefs. (For example, “I believe in God… in sexual integrity…that our actions have consequences…in the sanctity of marriage…acting in kindness will reap its own reward…I have a purpose on this earth.”) Reflect on an experience where you felt challenged to act with integrity around one of those values/beliefs? Set a goal for this week centered on how you can proactively respond in a more constructive way.