The reason most of us cringe at virtue signaling is because it’s often a misalignment of someone’s behaviors and beliefs. If a person says something matters to them, but their lives don’t reflect that priority, it’s hard to take them seriously—which comes down to an integrity issue.
Integrity can take a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy, and it’s one of the most critical qualities of our character. That’s why one of our value statements as a church says, “If we live with integrity, nothing else matters. If we don’t live with integrity, nothing else matters.”
If we lose our integrity, we lose our influence. We see this play out far too often when good leaders lose their legacy after a single bad decision. Yet, no one sets out to destroy their integrity. So, why does it happen?
The virtue of integrity is easy to value but difficult to validate. So, as you think about your integrity, consider these questions:
• Do your beliefs match your behaviors?
• Would other people say you have integrity?
• Do the people who know you the best love you the most?
• Does your private life match your public persona?
These are tough questions because it reveals whether we’re virtue signaling or really living out our values. So what does it really look like to live a life of integrity?
Samuel gives us a pretty good example. He was a leader who served his people well—so much so that toward the end of his life, he asked whether anyone had complaints against him, and the response was:
“No,” they replied, “you have never cheated or oppressed us, and you have never taken a single bribe.” 1 Samuel 12:4 NLT
Wouldn’t it be incredible to leave a legacy of integrity like that?
So, how do we do it?
There’s not some quick, tweetable three-step process. But every time you make the decision to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, you’re building your integrity muscle. And here’s the thing: The virtue of integrity doesn’t come from a special formula, it comes through a lifetime of faithfulness.
And when we invest time on our integrity, here are some benefits we’ll see as a result:
1. Integrity opens the door to deeper intimacy with God.
2. Integrity serves as a clear guide in a complex world.
3. Integrity gives you constant peace in your heart because you’re not trying to live a lie.
4. Integrity leads to respect and influence.
So, what is your integrity worth? Better question: What do your actions say your integrity is worth?
Pray: God, I want to leave a legacy of integrity like Samuel. Show me any areas in my life that miss the mark, and guide me as I seek to live a life of integrity. Lead me away from temptations, and give me the discipline and desire to do what pleases You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Challenge: Identify some boundaries you can put in your life to protect your integrity, then talk with others about them.