I was gifted the opportunity to attend high school church camp this past week and it was amazing! I have to admit, I felt like a teenager myself. I am new to the leadership team and so I felt alone, I was so nervous to get in the van and have nothing to say to the stranger sitting next to me. Afraid to be the person sitting on the beach alone, or standing in the back of camp with no one to talk to, the one who was going to be homesick. I am happy to announce that I was wrong, and my van mate was the perfect driving partner for me, I had plenty of friends, and I don’t think I could have had a moment alone if I had wanted one. God made sure that I was used and showed me that I was there for a reason. When we are called to something we should know that God has our backs, he isn’t going to leave us stranded with nothing to do. He has work for us, a kingdom to grow, and lessons to learn!
I know none of this has to do with integrity, just hang on a moment and I will get there. As many of you can recall, as teenagers we don’t always make the best decisions. Unfortunately time hasn’t changed that much. A couple of our students had a mishap that resulted in the need for a phone call to home. The students were scared and upset as you can imagine, but they were most upset at our Pastor who had to make the phone calls. The conversation was one of pleading, “please don’t call them, you have a choice, you don’t have to do it, no one has to know that you didn’t”. These types of comments went on for quite some time and as a mother it was heart breaking, but I think the worst part was the look on the Pastors face caused by the personal attack that was coming his direction.
Were the students correct? Did he really have a choice? They sure thought so, in fact they thought they knew so. Once again as “the mom” I felt that I needed to speak up on his behalf. It really wasn’t a choice at all. The rules were the rules and the consequences were known. Parents were to be contacted. He is the head of all these kids, he is to be accountable to students, parents, church elders, the head pastor and most importantly to God. He was in a position where his integrity was being attacked. In order to know that he did what was required by him to be trusted, accountable and responsible to all concerned he had to call those parents. It didn’t matter what was said to the students, he was the bad guy, no matter what. It was a hard situation to be a part of but my eyes were opened, my heart was opened and I am glad that I was there.
When I returned home and I was talking to my husband, I started to wonder what the Bible says about integrity. What does God want us to know and to understand about it’s importance? Here is what I found:
Proverbs 28:6 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
1 Peter 3:16 Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
I was proud to be a part of ministry through this situation, proud to see that our Pastor stuck to what he knew was right in the midst of tears and pleading. He did the right thing. That brings me comfort as a student leader, a mom and a member of our church in general.
Integrity isn’t set aside for leaders of the church. Integrity is something that we all need to uphold, as individuals, as people, as a part of the church family, as parents, and students, as grandparents, friends, and kids. It is clear that God wants us to be honorable and full of integrity. We are called to it! There are times that all of us face a choice, or others think that we face a choice, when in fact God says, there is no choice, there is only to do what is right. When you are facing a situation and being asked to do something, hide something, let a rule slide, keep a secret that shouldn’t be kept, lie for yourself or someone else, remember that your integrity is at stake. Hold your head high, make the right choice, and take the anger that may be thrown your way, knowing that what you did will be honored by your heavenly Father.
God never promised us that following him would be easy, but he does say that we will be rewarded for following him. It’s not always easy, but it is always right!