Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Deeper Understanding of Integrity

February 21, 2022 by  
Filed under Extra

What is the purpose of integrity? Why is this word used so often by our leaders of yesterday and today? I grew up with people telling me that integrity was defined as “consistency of principle when no one is looking.” While this is true, I believe that this definition only explains a portion of this complex concept. 

Personally, when I think of leaders of the past who were willing to sacrifice their very lives for such a word, I am inspired and challenged to make sure I truly understand it. 

Here is an illustration for you. 

Imagine walking up to a dilapidated building with a roof so rickety it looked like it might fall on you at any second. The beams are warped and there are sounds of water running and electricity arcing. Would you walk into that building? Would you bring your family in and set up for dinner? No way! You would assess the situation and decide that the building is lacking integrity and is unsafe for the cherished people in your life. Even the government would come in and place a large sticker on the building, saying it is condemned. If this is what it means for something to lack integrity, then what does it look like when it has integrity? 

It means that when you walk up and enter the building, not only are you safe, but you also have no reason to question the validity of that safety. It means that even though water and electricity are flowing through the building, everything is in the right place and properly protected. It means the foundational beams are built and maintained correctly. It means you and your family will be safe. This is the result of having integrity in place. We need this kind of safe reassurance in our countries, states, cities, and in our communities. 

As I think of the many stories, principled decisions, and quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I see clearly a man who understood the word integrity and how to assure that its principles were in place for the world around him. 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr, 1963 

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” — Martin Luther King Jr. Christmas sermon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1967 

In order for integrity to exist, it requires words like love, respect, honor, and justice. In a sense, these are the boundaries for that safe place. When you approach leaders who are safe, you will find people who are willing to listen, who have vision and strategy for moving forward but are also compassionate enough to slow down and care about the people involved. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., leaders of integrity will possess a willingness to see value in all people and a heart that stands against hate. Leadership is not for the weak. It requires a resolve to stand on your principles even when others do not. Integrity is not something that can ever be taken from you. It is only something you can choose to give away. 

Kristopher Dahir has been a pastor for 30 years, ran private education for 20 years, served as a city councilman for 6 years and is currently running for Secretary of State for Nevada.

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