What is integrity? As defined in the dictionary it is: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. The state of being whole and undivided.
Integrity is the qualifications of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards. In ethics, integrity is regarded by many as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions.
Some synonyms are: honesty, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness
Interestingly enough, I only found one antonym: dishonesty
One of my favorite ways people have described integrity is “Your personal integrity or moral character is defined by who you are when no one is looking.” Another words, are you who you are to impress someone else or are you the same in all circumstances?
Through the Life Skills curriculum, the biggest goal is for students to become more like the character of Christ. This becomes evident through words and actions. It becomes evident when we say what we mean and mean what we say. It is also evident when we treat others the way we want to be treated. It is further evident when we make moral and ethical choices based on what God's Word teaches us to do, no matter who is listening or seeing.
Two life commandments I have tried to live by are: “Never hesitate to do that which is right” and “Do what is right and the feelings will follow”. I am not sure when, why, or who, specifically, instilled them in me because I don’t remember ever not trying to live by these standards, but I am sure my parents were a big influence in that area.
I am definitely not saying that I have always made the right choice in every circumstance. Not by a long shot. This is part of our sinful, human nature. In fact, as a teenager I made plenty of mistakes and poor choices. However, I remember very clearly, my dad saying to me after making some bad choices that he didn’t need to punish me because he knew that I would punish myself more than he ever could through my guilty conscience. He knew me so well! I guess he knew that he (and my mom) and, of course, the Holy Spirit had instilled a strong moral compass within me.
You may be wondering what I meant when I said “Do what is right and the feelings will follow”. What do feelings have to do with it? Well, one thing I know is that our feelings will lie to us all of the time. If we only do what is right when we “feel like it” then how do know we aren’t being influenced by our own selfish desires and ambitions? We all have a moral compass that helps guide us as to what we believe is right or wrong. We need to strive to do the right thing, make the right choice, and treat others right, whether we “feel like it” or not. We need to set our “feelings” or emotions aside when making choices and be men and women of good, upstanding character, or, in other words, strive to become more like the character of Christ.
Dr Paul Hegstrom, founder of Life Skills International, describes Life Skills as a self-parenting course. In other words, it teaches us the things we should have, or would have been taught if we were raised in a completely healthy and functional home. Our parents only knew what they were taught so they passed down to us what they knew.
When we strive to “do what is right” it helps us to avoid making decisions that we regret. The following is a poem that I wrote about regret:
Regret has no boundaries
It comes when you least expect it
It causes such heartbreak in its wake
The results can be unbearable
Sometimes we need to give up control and just have faith
God is in control
He is our provider
We are nothing without Him
No matter how hard you try, regret cannot be masked
Believe, trust, have faith
You can decide today to live without regrets. You can decide today to strive to be more like the character of Christ. You can decide to live a life of integrity. You can decide to make positive changes in your life. Decide to “never hesitate to do that which is right”.
You can do it! I believe in you!
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Melinda Eck is the Executive Director of Life Skills of Wisconsin, mother of 5 and grandmother of 6. She has been leading Life Skills Classes for both women and teens since 2009.