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Character and integrity


After spending 3 years with Jesus and shortly after the disciples had taken the last supper with Him, Luke 22:24 tells us, “The disciples bickered over which one of them would be considered the greatest in the kingdom.”


The disciples were taking their relationship with Jesus for granted and arguing over who would be the most powerful!


Luke 22:25 "Jesus interrupted their argument, saying, “Kings and men of authority in this world rule oppressively over their subjects, claiming that they do it for the good of the people. They are obsessed with how others see them.”


What are we obsessed about? Are we afraid to be humble? Are we fearful of what people think about us, rather than walking in obedience and pleasing God, in honesty and integrity? 


Integrity is important in leadership
Integrity is essential if we are going to be trusted

John Wooden was an American basketball player and coach, and he said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is what others think of you!


Luke 22:26 Jesus challenged them and said, “This is not your calling! You will lead by a different model. The greatest one among you will live as one called to serve others without honour. The greatest honour and authority is reserved for the one who has a servant heart. The leaders who are served are the most important in your eyes, but in the kingdom, it is the servants who lead. Am I not here with you as one who serves you?”


Luke 22:28 “Because you have stood with me through all my trials and ordeals, I give you your destiny: I am promising you the kingdom realm that the Father has promised me.  We will celebrate in this kingdom and you will feast with me at my table. And each of you will be given a throne, twelve thrones in all, and you will be made rulers on thrones to judge the tribes of Israel.”


Then Jesus Prophesies Peter’s Denial - 31 “Peter, my dear friend, listen to what I’m about to tell you. Satan has demanded to come and sift you like wheat and test your faith.  ButI have prayed for you, Peter, that you would stay faithful to me no matter what comes. Remember this: after you have turned back to me and have been restored, make it your life mission to strengthen the faith of your brothers.”


Clearly Peter was not listening!


Luke 22:33 “But Lord,” Peter replied, “I am ready to stand with you to the very end, even if it means prison or death!”   Jesus looked at him and prophesied, “Before the rooster crows in the morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”


Peter could have been really offended by Jesus prophecy but was truly humbled when the opportunities arose for him to stand with Jesus and he failed miserably denying Jesus three times! Where was Peter's character and integrity? It was certainly being tested!


The good news is that Peter was restored later when Jesus had risen.  Peter had been humbled and his character prepared, ready to be filled by Holy Spirit and used by God to birth the Church.  Wow what a transformation!  


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


Whilst visiting the Capital Building in Washington DC in July 2005 we saw one of my heroes American Congressman John Lewis who died July 2020. John Lewis walked across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma with Martin Luther King Jr on 7th March 1965.  He  was just a young man when he was violently assaulted by the Police who beat him around the head until his skull was fractured.  But John Lewis never gave up as he continued to fight for equality.


Years later John Lewis mentored a man called John Eaves, who was looking to be the first African-American Jewish man to be a member of Congress.  John said, “John Lewis never ran from challenge or controversy, but he confronted injustice and intolerance wherever he found it. His life is a record of bravery, humility, compassion, boldness and strength.  Throughout our many interactions, John Lewis was consistent. He truly was a man of character, integrity and strength.”


50th Anniversary of Selma march
President Barak Obama hugging Congressman John Lewis on Selma Bridge

A great blessing for me was to see a photograph of Congressman John Lewis hugging President Barak Obama the first African American President, on the same Selma Bridge he had been brutally attacked on 50 years earlier. I'm sure in his wildest dreams John Lewis would never have imagined that as he lay bleeding from his injuries. Never give up hope!


Ephesians 3:20-21 says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!"


Proverbs 10:9 – “The one who walks in integrity will experience a fearless confidence in life, but the one who is devious will eventually be exposed.”


Jac O’Keeffe said, “Spiritual integrity is the state of being undivided, together with the quality of brutal self-honesty. It demands a considerable depth of self-awareness and uncompromising willingness to be authentic.  The first step to cultivating spiritual integrity is to recognise that we are not always honest!

 

Spiritual integrity requires us to be honest with ourselves too and to unconditionally love and respect ourselves.  We are motivated to become better versions of ourselves.

Self-honesty helps us to relax in mind and body because there is no game playing and personal agendas. There is no fear of being caught out, no sense of being a fraud or fake.  When we are in spiritual integrity, we can apologize with ease and commit to doing and being better.”


Psalm 119:1 “You’re only truly happy when you walk in total integrity, walking in the light of God’s word.”

 

Proverbs 20:28 “Good leadership is built on love and truth, for kindness and integrity are what keep leaders in their position of trust.”


Isaiah 28:17  “I will set justice as the true measurement and integrity its plumb line.”

 

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