Bill Graham said, “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact.” Integrity is not a given factor in everyone’s life. It is a result of self discipline, inner trust, and a decision to relentlessly honest in all situations in our lives. Unfortunately in today’s world, strength of character is a rare commodity. As a result, we have few contemporary models of integrity. Our culture has produced few enduring heroes, few models of virtue. We have become a nation of imitators, but there are few leaders worth imitating. The meaning of integrity has been eroded.
Integrity is not what we do so much as who we are. And who we are, in turn, determines what we do. Our system of values is so much a part of us we cannot separate it from ourselves. I t becomes the navigating system that guided us. It establishes priorities in our lives and judges what we will accept or reject. We are all faced with conflicting desires. We struggle daily with situations that demand decisions between what we want to do and what we ought to do. Integrity establishes the ground rules for resolving these tensions. Integrity binds our person together and fosters a spirit of contentment within us. It will not allow our lips to violate our hearts. When integrity is the referee, we will be consistent; our beliefs will be mirrored by our conduct. Integrity commits itself to character over personal gain, to people over things, to service over power, to principle over convenience, to the long view over the immediate.
Philip Brooks maintained, “Character is made in the small moments of our lives.” Any time you break a moral principle, you create a small crack in the foundation of your integrity. Developing and maintaining integrity require constant attention. Josh Weston, chairman and CEO of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.., says, “I’ve always tried to live with the following simple rule: Don’t do what you wouldn’t feel comfortable reading about in the newspapers the next day.” That’s a good standard all of us should keep.