Matt Lauer was fired this week for inappropriate sexual misconduct, and he will not be the last to experience the impact of the Harvey Weinstein tsunami. From entertainment execs to US Generals, politicians, and the list goes on, people’s lives are being turned upside-down because of a lack of integrity. As the dad of three girls, I am thankful that sexual harassment is coming to light and I pray for all those who have been impacted for so many years. The fact is, so many people have spent all of their time building their careers, but not their character.
Nobody is perfect, but we are seeing that what we do and what we say matters. We live in a post-Christian “do whatever you want” world, yet integrity still matters to the person, the victims and the countless children who have to experience this first hand or watch the destruction. What is on the inside will eventually come to the outside. We all must learn to focus on the private side of our life as much as the public side.
In the world of business, politics, entertainment and sports, we see an almost daily example of a career destroyed, a marriage broken and lives impacted. In a world of “win at all costs” and “do whatever you want,” God calls us to integrity and character. Businesses and industries that don’t even espouse biblical principles are saying this matters. It is not over issues, such as work ethic, that people are losing their jobs and careers, but over personal ethics. The world is seeing and saying that it matters. Integrity matters.
So, how do we live with integrity?
- Understand temptations will come – Temptation is not a sin. Even Jesus was tempted, but Jesus did not sin. We will all be tempted. It’s the second look, the stare, where we step over the line. There are some key times when we are very susceptible and need to be more aware:
1. When we are tired. 2. When we are stressed. 3. When we are alone. These are times when we need to put on the full armor of God because we are vulnerable.
- Flee – When temptation comes, we don’t need to try to stand and fight; we need to run!
1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee sexual immortality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” Basically, this says, “Run!” Yet, many times we don’t flee, we flirt. We love the attention. Run!
- Guard what goes into your mind – If sin starts with a thought, then go to the source. Rather than dwelling on a sinful thought, replace it with good thoughts. Fill your mind with the right things. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” So, what is in your mind? What are you allowing to take root there? There is a saying, “What you feed grows; what you starve dies.” Feed the things of God and grow into a godly man or woman.
- Invest in an accountability group – You and I need people around us that we can text, call or reach out to when we find ourselves in a tough situation. Asking someone to pray for us or to challenge us is powerful. We all need this. This is why I believe church is so important. Community Groups, Men’s Groups, Women’s Groups or other places to be around people who can help you and me stay accountable. This is a spiritual battle and we are not called to fight it alone. We need other soldiers around us who can encourage us and speak truth into us. We all need this. But, it takes an “investment.” It takes us taking the initiative and investing in others. It takes us being real and vulnerable. If you don’t have it, find it. Just like in a war, your life many times depends on those around you.
- Work on your marriage or your future marriage – Marriage takes work. Because men are goal-oriented, many men get married in order to check that off the list. Then, they run after building their career. Conversely, women are relational. They get married and are then ready to move on to children. Oftentimes, when the kids come, they don’t have time for their husband any more. Keeping a healthy, growing marriage takes work. Couples don’t stop loving each other – they drift apart when they stop working on it. What results from frustration at home is vulnerability of the family unit. Instead of spending time thinking about someone else at your office or online, put the work in your marriage. You, your spouse, your kids and following generations will be glad you did.
- Pray – When temptation comes, immediately pray. Take captive the thought and turn it over the Lord. Don’t try to hide it from Him (you can’t anyway – He is God!). Maybe it is an emotional temptation or a physical temptation; maybe it is pornography or an online relationship; regardless, give it to the Lord. Bring it out into the open. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” There is power in prayer. When we give our temptation, our sin and even our marriage over to the Lord in prayer, miracles happen. Start your day with prayer and then pray throughout the day. Develop a daily conversation with the Lord. Trust me: there is power in prayer.
- Live like Jesus – The goal for everyone of us is “to be conformed to the likeness of God’s Son…” Romans 8. Jesus was in the world, but He was not of the world. He interacted with people from all walks of life – and He did more for women’s rights than any person in history. Jesus loved all people well, and so can we. We don’t have to live scared; instead, we must live with integrity. We don’t have to be afraid – we have to be smart. We put boundaries in our life to avoid situations of being alone with someone of the opposite sex in our home, office, car or anywhere. We become wise with the words we say and the things we post. As men and women of integrity, we treat people with respect and maintain healthy boundaries. Jesus loved people so well that He changed the world and our response is to do likewise – with integrity. We love and live like Jesus.
The fact is, we are all vulnerable, but, we can all succeed. This is one area of our life where we can do it right. God wants us to succeed in our marriage and God wants us to have healthy relationships with others. God is with us and He is for us. Let’s do this right, and let’s bring glory to the God we love and long to serve. Our world is looking for integrity right now, so let’s live it. Let’s love God and love others in a way that people say, “I want to know your God.” Integrity matters.