THE GOLD: ENLARGING WITH INTEGRITY
There are three very specific dangers associated with enlargement. They have been called the Unholy Triad: “The Gold, the Girls and the Glory.” (My apologies to the “girls.” The intended threat implied is not women, but any sexual activity outside of marriage.) Most leaders are vulnerable to at least one or maybe even all three. In any event, it’s the development of strong character and moral virtue that will empower one to stand firm against these snares.
Surviving the Gold
Character is moral virtue—integrity. It’s a firm sense of right and wrong—a value system arising from a conviction of ethical absolutes. It’s the commitment to do what is right and ethical regardless of cost, discomfort, or risk.
Giftedness may take you to the next level, but only character will keep you there. In fact, most people get into trouble when their character does not keep pace with the momentum created by their giftedness. But when character is a priority over enlargement, when integrity is more important than success, one’s life and all he has built will be secure.
Proverbs 10:9 tells us, “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.” One’s life may be filled with great accomplishments, but it’s integrity that keeps those accomplishments secure. One may have a successful career and draw the admiration of great men—but it’s integrity that will keep that success secure. One may have been blessed with a wonderful wife and a healthy marriage—but it’s integrity that will keep that marriage secure. One may be a gifted individual with bright prospects for the next level, but it’s integrity that provides a firm foundation to support enlargement.
Integrity Is Not True, Until it Has Been Tested
It’s a precarious reality: Human nature is easily corrupted by the prospect of personal gain. If there is some advantage to receive—whether financial, social or emotional—people are likely to abandon their principles in order to obtain it. This is not to say that money is evil—it’s not. What’s evil is the affect that money has on us when we love it. At the prospect of getting more and more dollars into our pockets, we often “sell-out” our principles. In the same way, success is not evil. What’s evil is the love of success. Too many, in an effort to achieve the next level for status, power or financial gain, have compromised their principles and lowered their standards of integrity. In this context, success can have an insidious effect on human nature.
This is often why God tests our integrity before bringing us to the next level. In fact, those who maintained their integrity during enlargement were also those who went through great hardships on their journey upward. Joseph suffered unimaginable rejection and betrayal prior to his ascension as second in command over Egypt. Moses spent forty years on the backside of the desert before receiving his mantle of prophetic authority. Joshua wandered in the desert with a generation of belligerent complainers before his promotion. David was hunted as a fugitive and traitor on the journey toward his coronation. The list goes on. Each of these endured great tests of character which empowered them with resolute integrity in the place of enlargement.
What Is Integrity?
Integrity is a commitment to principle. It’s being consistent in your convictions regardless of circumstance. Titus 2:7-8 instructs us, “… in all things…(show) integrity.” Integrity comes from the Latin word “integer” which means “one” or “wholeness.” To have integrity means there is no double-mindedness or duplicity it one’s character. It’s the condition of being whole—undivided in values and conduct. The man of integrity has integrated his whole life around a set of principles. There is no difference in the way he acts from one situation to the next.
A principle is a moral rule that guides you regarding right and wrong, and dictates your actions. Of course, no one is perfect and everyone falls short of their principles from time to time. But at the core, the person of integrity struggles to remain consistent with the values in which they believe. Unfortunately, when faced with the prospect of personal or financial gain, many people willingly compromise—even abandon their principles.
The Tests Will Come
Psalm 7:9 tells us, “The righteous God tests the hearts and minds.” It’s a truth often repeated in scripture: See also Jeremiah 17:10 and 20:12, Psalm 11:5 and Proverbs 17:3. God is not impressed by those who proclaim their goodness, He wants us to be confronted with the truth of our integrity—or lack thereof.
Integrity is not true until it has been tested. Anyone can say they are honest when being honest doesn’t cost them anything. But true honesty is revealed when telling the truth results in rejection or loss. Anyone can keep their word when fulfilling that commitment is comfortable. But true integrity is revealed when keeping a promise demands sacrifice or extreme inconvenience.
A pastor friend of mine was met after church by a rich parishioner. The man pulled from his pocket a large roll of cash and handed it to the pastor. “This is my tithe,” the man said. The pastor replied, “Wait here while I go to the office and get you a receipt.” The next Sunday, the same wealthy man approached the pastor again and handed him another wad of cash. “This is my tithe,” the man said. The pastor replied, “Wait here while I go to the office and get you a receipt.” This ritual went on for several weeks until the pastor noticed one Sunday that the man greeted him, but didn’t give him the tithe. Curious, the pastor asked, “Sir, every week you handed me your tithe except today. Is something wrong?” The man replied, “Not at all, I just decided to give my tithe to the office and get my receipt directly from the secretary.” Even more curious, the pastor asked, “Why didn’t you do that in the first place? Why did you give your tithe to me all these weeks?” The man, with his gaze locked upon the pastor, said, “Because, I was testing you. Before I give my money to this church and bring my family under your ministry, I needed to know if you were a man of integrity. You are.” The man wanted to be assured that his tithe would go to God, not to the pastor’s pocket.
On your way to the next level, your character will be tested. It’s not that God wants to ruin you, He wants to qualify you. 2 Chronicles 16:9 tell us, “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” God will often bring opportunities to reveal if our integrity can survive the pressures that come at the next level.
God knows that at the next level, the pressure to compromise is always present. There will be people who want access, people who want to use us, and people who simply seek to gratify their own ego by being close to success. Some will even try to corrupt us in order to gain some advantage for themselves.
God knows, at the next level, the opposite sex will present themselves to you; he wants to expose if there are sexual fault lines in your character. He knows, at the next level, more money will flow through your hands. He wants to reveal if there are financial fractures in your integrity. He knows, at the next level, there will be greater admiration from the crowds. He tests our pride to see if our ego is fractured and vulnerable to pride.
The tests will come—because God is preparing us by exposing us. He wants to confront us with the truth about our fractures, to put us on the path to restoration, and prepare us for prolonged success.
For more information on surviving your enlargement, check out my latest book, UPWARD: Taking Your Life to the Next Level now available on Amazon.