Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Integrity? What is it and how do I live it?

With the crazy election and all of the accusations, I’ve thought a lot recently about integrity and what it means to live a life of integrity.  So I’d like to dig a little deeper into what that life looks like in the next few blog posts.  

One of my favorite quotes is from James Michener:
The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.”

I am a relational person who seeks to have fun in whatever I'm doing, so this quote really resonates with me.  When my faith, work, and play intermix and harmonize, I feel as much alive as ever.  An integrated (whole) life is one major aspect of living a life of integrity.

Yet this is not easy because most of us live our lives compartmentalizing work, play, family, and religion, especially those of my generation or older.  I can easily act one way for my family, another at work and play and wear another suit on Sunday and this feels as natural as eating and drinking. It is not even something I consciously do but is a built-in defense mechanism to keep certain beliefs and relationships separated from one another so they don't conflict.

That is why there is this perception of hypocrisy in the church. People see believers out on the town on a Friday or Saturday night partying it up and then in church on Sunday morning hearing about the evils of what they partook on Friday. It's the reason a pastor can preach on the sin of lust while having an affair or a business man who uses unethical business practices to make a bigger pay day and then sit with his family on Sunday morning listening to a sermon on integrity.  Living a compartmentalized life is living a life of hypocrisy and sin. 

I remember a skit that was done in one of the many summer youth camps I helped lead.  The skit was about a teenage girl hanging out with Jesus (a boy playing the role of Jesus) in her room. The girl gets a call from a friend inviting her to a party. She excitedly accepts the invitation and quickly gets ready and starts to walk out the door.  “Jesus” starts to go with her.  She turns around and tells him, “you must stay here”.  She turns to walk to the door again and Jesus continues to follow her.  This time she turns and adamantly proclaims, “I’m sorry but you can’t go! You don’t belong at this party, stay put!” The point was clearly made. There are places and areas of our life where we don’t exercise our faith, where we would rather not have Jesus taking part.
How well do you live an integrated as opposed to a compartmentalized life?  Consider how you keep your religious life separate.  Think about how much your faith has spilled over into other areas of your life.  Have you kept your faith life only for Sundays or do you take Jesus everywhere you go? If not, how can you better integrate your faith in the other areas?

More on living an integrated life in next week’s blog: the good news about the millennial generation and the church’s response. 

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