Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another.

As a teacher, I witness my students’ lack of integrity every day. When they misbehave, I follow our classroom procedures to reprimand them. They almost always say, “I’m sorry.” However, I’m not sure they really are. Often, their words don’t really line up with their subsequent actions. There’s an integrity problem.

I’ve heard that integrity is “being the same person all the time” – no matter who else you’re around or what situation you find yourself in. “It’s who you are when you’re alone.” These definitions are centered around “consistency” which is also what I was taught in my Leadership Studies @ the College of Biblical Studies: Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another – it’s how consistent you are in each of these areas.

Integrity is the “white” section.

Where our words, actions, and beliefs all agree with one another.

Here’s what it looks like when someone has a lot of integrity:

The first type of integrity problem is that of the Liar:

People lie. Sometimes we can do the right things and believe the right things, but peer pressure (or some other pressure) causes us to lie in the moment. (I guess it also works the other way – We can believe the wrong things and do the wrong things, but lie to make ourselves look better.) When we lie, we compromise our integrity. Even the “little white lie” can be dangerous. Each time we lie (no matter how small), we make ourselves more comfortable with lying. We must also remember that others are watching us. When the phone rings and a 3yr-old hears daddy say, “Tell them I’m not here,” he is learning something from his daddy.

The second type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Coward.

The coward says what he believes, but just won’t actually take any action. He’s too scared or too busy to follow through. I’ve certainly had this problem. I believe I should do a lot of things and even talk about doing them, but often get too scared to actually take the necessary steps to move forward. It easy to say that I’m just too busy, but ultimately, maybe it really is just simple fear that paralyzes us all.

The third type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Politician:

The politician will say (words) and do (actions) whatever it takes to get what he wants regardless of his own values or beliefs. He might have great beliefs, but they don’t have any deep roots. He is willing to compromise them at the smallest temptation. In general, he is simply out to fulfill his own desires regardless of anyone else. He is a dangerous person to be around.

The final type of integrity problem is the most inconsistent. You never know what you’re gonna get with these guys. They are often out of touch with reality and clueless about themselves. They have no integrity at all. (At least with the others, there are 2 of the three which line up. You might be able to predict something based on those two areas.) With the final type, there’s no predicting anything.

Notice that there is no integrity(white area) at all.

I hope my little exploration of integrity has been helpful. This information is all stuff I learned from my Biblical Leadership classes at the College of Biblical Studies.

9 Replies to “Integrity”

  1. Thank you for this very simple, yet profoundly powerful lesson. Its a reminder about the importance of integrity in our lives. Thanks for the great visuals.

  2. Steve,
    I found this in a search on the word, Integrity. I was looking for a way to represent this characteristic for my website. I like the way you simplified the various individual approaches to this important concept. I’d like to use the top diagram on my site, if you’re ok with it. I can try to set up a link to come to this page, if you wish.
    My purpose is to give people the truth about how their finances are working and what we’re taught that does not benefit us in the financial arena.
    A thought I have posted in my office says, “Integrity will pay for itself.”
    Please let me know your thoughts and thanks for taking the time to pull this site together and to review my comments.
    Abundant Blessings,
    Joe Teske

    1. Yes Joe. Please use it. I created the graphic but the concept came from some classes I took in college. Like you, I think this stuff needs to be taught – its a message that needs more attention.

  3. I totally loved your exploration on Integrity! I am a visual person so the circles created a great way to remind me what my daily walk needs to be. My wife and I have always tried to model and teach our kids integrity every day so I’m sharing your site with them. Thank you Steve

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