Integrity through the Seasons

Integrity through the Seasons — Write RightIntegrity comes easier in the lush times. Client work remains steady; the coffers stay full. I experience the luxury of choice and can accept or reject a project without risking anything. In the lean times, integrity becomes difficult. Client work slows to a trickle; the pipeline echoes; and money exits the bank account without ever returning. I consider a questionable project, wondering whether to accept it.

Integrity is Hard

In those times, I encounter a values decision. Will I sacrifice what I believe and hold most dear? The question should be easy to answer, but it isn’t in the lean times. Bills come due, and I worry about making ends meet; my emails go unanswered, and I worry no other opportunities will arise. I worry and fret and stew.

However, more than the decision causes anxiety. I worry, too, about the repercussions of a positive or negative response. If I say “no,” even if said with gentleness and respect, the potential client could blackball me, tell other people to not work with me because I’m “stupid” or “narrow-minded.”

Saying “yes” delivers its own worries: the cost to my heart and soul. If I say “yes,” something within me will break, perhaps be irreparably shattered. I will disclose that I love myself more than the One who made and saved me. In addition, I will lose my sense of stability and steadiness because I now on nothing but my own opinion.

Integrity Offers Comfort

My opinion, though, changes. It’s like the FDA regulations about butter, bacon, or some other foodstuff. One year, the product will kill me; the next, I’ll die if I don’t eat more of it. My opinion fluctuates just as widely but much more frequently.

Because of that, I cannot rely on my opinion. Nor can I set my hope in how a current or potential client might respond to my answer about a project, policy, or other matter. I do not control that outcome; I only own how I behave in the midst of the situation.

In light of that, I choose to let integrity guide my words and actions. Integrity — sticking to what I believe and value regardless of circumstance — makes me unwavering and strong. It offers comfort, too, because I no longer find contentment in circumstances or people’s opinions. I find it in God and his word, the Bible. I rest in him, letting God direct how I think and therefore act.

Integrity: Joseph Enslaved

The Bible contains many stories about people who either operate out of integrity or don’t. Joseph may be one of the most well known examples; he suffers a great deal and with little cause. His brothers sell him to slavers because he can’t keep quiet about his dreams. (An aside: Joseph should have been a bit more circumspect, wise, and humble when going around saying he’d rule over his brothers one day.)

Joseph ends up in Egypt where he first serves in Potiphar’s household. He serves well, so well, in fact, that Potiphar gives him additional responsibilities. Unfortunately, Joseph’s service brings him into contact with Potiphar’s wife, and she decides she has to have him.

Joseph refuses, telling her Potiphar trusts him with the household and her. He cannot violate that trust. The wife refuses to listen and entraps Joseph in her bed. He flees from her, only to be brought up on charges of rape and imprisoned.

Integrity: Joseph in Prison

Joseph excels even in the prison environment. He becomes known as the dream interpreter, garnering attention from not only the jailer but also Pharaoh himself. When Pharaoh’s advisers fail to interpret his dreams about some creepy cows, Joseph is called to the court.

He translates the dream, saying the Egyptians need to prepare for a time of plenty and a time of famine. Joseph’s wisdom, humility, and presence so impress Pharaoh that the ruler exalts Joseph to a position second only to the throne. When Joseph encounters his brother in that role, he says something telling, “What you meant for harm, God meant for good.”

How could Joseph say such a thing? Why doesn’t he throw his brothers into jail? His brothers most certainly would have. Joseph responds as he does because of integrity, an integrity not merely tied to treating people with dignity and respect but tied to the Creator of the universe.

Integrity Produces Endurance

Joseph’s belief in the all-powerful, all-knowing God enables him to act the same in every situation, good or bad. He never compromises that belief; he doesn’t take advantage of Potiphar or the wife, nor does he complain to the jailer about his wrongful imprisonment. Joseph serves, steadily and honorably. He does what is right because he rests in the God who is just, loving, and kind. Joseph acts with integrity, in all seasons.

Image: Ryan Hyde (Creative Commons)

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