Character and Integrity

May 31, 2016 at 10:21 am | Posted in character and integrity | 1 Comment
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Three days ago (May 28, 2016) The Deep End surpassed its old record for number of views in one day by a huge number. I suspect this had to do with Memorial Day weekend, and the post entitled “What Will You be Remembering this Memorial Day?” and the category Biblical Remembering, which seemed to be the source of most of the activity. In honor of the occasion, I wanted to recap another popular category.

Several years ago, there was an upheaval in the youth ministry department (an all-too-common occurrence in my experience) at the local church where I attended and served. Being suddenly without a youth leader, the pastor asked if I could fill in on Wednesday nights teaching the youth group (consisting of junior high and high school students). Youth group ministry is my least favorite ministry in church. I would prefer if kids attended “big church” with their parents or other adults, but I have been consistently overruled in this area. Also, most of the kids who attended this particular church came on their own, without parents or guardians, or were dropped off by adults who didn’t stay for the service themselves.

So I agreed to help out for a six-week period until a new youth leader could be found. The week before I started, youth group attendance had been around 12 – 15. By the time the six weeks was over, we had a high attendance of 29 and were averaging around 25. How did I get the class to grow numerically? By wacky games? Pizza parties? Showing videos? Acting silly? Growing weird facial hair, wearing skinny jeans, moussing up my hair, and getting into hip-hop? Nope. What I did was pray a lot about it and call all the kids’ parents who brought them on Sunday mornings but not Wednesday nights, and challenged them to bring them on Wednesday nights. I’m about as personable and friendly as a stinky mop, and my phone manners are awkward and clumsy. So, obviously, the Lord is the One Who increased the attendance, not me, but I’m grateful He allowed me to have a part in it.

The series of lessons I taught during those six weeks focused on the character and integrity of various people in the Bible. There seemed to be a change in behavior and some spiritual growth among the kids during that time, but only the Lord knows if it was real or lasting. I pray that it was. Below are links to the lessons:

Part One (introduction and definitions of character and integrity; illustration: Nerf football vs. NFL football) *
Part Two (David; illustration: Zip-lock bag vs. bird cage)
Part Three (Mary)
Part Four (Daniel; illustration: steel ball vs. Play-Doh)
Part Five (Jephthah’s daughter)
Part Six (Jesus; illustration: a straight wall vs. a crooked wall)

* most-viewed post in series

Character and Integrity Part 1

July 20, 2009 at 9:40 am | Posted in character and integrity | 14 Comments
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Integrity is a quality of “soundness.” It comes from the idea that an “integer” is something that is “whole,” or “complete.” When something has integrity, nothing can get inside it and mess it up. Example: A real football has integrity. It can get wet on the outside, but not on the inside.

wet football

A Nerf football has no integrity.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/nerfball.jpg?w=300

If it gets wet, the inside will get all soggy.

When it comes to people, integrity is determined by what we do when no one is watching.

[A Psalm of David.] Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.

Psalm 26:1

It’s easy to have integrity when everyone’s watching. Pretend that we are in a room, and I show you a container, and tell you that inside is something very valuable, very exciting, very personal to me, and very secret.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Pr30NcolQz8/TW2pE_EFOnI/AAAAAAAAKPg/KXuodAX31TM/mystery.jpg

If I left the room, and told you not to look in the container, would you be tempted to take a peek? Probably not if other people were watching, but what if you were left completely alone with the container, and no one would know?

https://i2.wp.com/dianechamberlain.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sneak-peek-at-gift.jpg

That’s a test of integrity. Integrity is between you and God.

“Character” is a little different. Character is the combination of qualities that make you the “type” of person you are. If you are honest, hardworking, always on time, you have a trustworthy character. If you are selfish, unfair, sneaky, you have a greedy character.

Integrity is between you and God. Character goes into how other people perceive you.

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

Proverbs 22:1

We might say that your character is what kind of name you have – what you are known for.

Does God want us to have integrity? Yes.

The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

Psalm 7:8

Now, let’s examine what kind of character God wants us to have.

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

I Samuel 16:7

When God looks at us, He sees more than just our physical appearance; He sees us in light of the things we do, and our reason for doing those things, and our true attitude while we do them.

God does care about the appearance of the things we do.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

I Thessalonians 5:22

One reason why God is concerned about the outward appearance of our actions is because we have an influence on others. People in general often adopt the actions of others with whom we spend time. People who hang out together often wear the same clothes, use the same language, and listen to the same music.

One reason that I need to spend time with Jesus – praying, reading my Bible – is that, if I spend time with Him, I’ll start to act like Him.

Many times, we have a challenge when we have an opportunity to do something that might not necessarily be “wrong” in and of itself, but would appear questionable to others. Our challenge is to remember that Christians are being watched by others, and we are supposed to be the “salt of the earth.” Salt adds flavor, but it also has an astringent quality, a cleansing quality. And it has preserving quality.

Christians have a responsibility to God, to ourselves, and to others.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2


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