Integrity or Reputation?
Having kids forces us as parents to consider our lives from the perspective of building our integrity vs. managing our reputations.
Consider this passage from Proverbs 20:7 (ESV)…"The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”
So many stifling pressures can be felt by concerned parents. Some by our own parents, in-laws and close friends and by the over-the-shoulder concerns of our claustrophobic Christian culture that many of us live in or around. The pressures we feel to “get it right," to effectively parent our kids safely through the minefield of adolescence, unaffected and unscathed by the temptations of sin and sex and worldly corruption.
I feel them, too. If you're a pastor or lay leader in your congregation of faith, you may feel all of these pressures even more acutely than most, with the added weight of setting a “good example” for others to follow. Heavy stuff to try to lift, let alone carry.
What if we looked at it from another vantage point, a healthier perspective?
What if our duty focused on our personal lives and not our public ones? What if we moved pass the “NEED” to make it appear as if we have our lives all together? Wouldn’t that be a relief?
What if we took our days one-at-a-time and focused just on our personal faith and choices, on simply obeying what we know God asked us to do? Working to improve our motives on the inside and being much less concerned with appearances and the affirmation of others?
A less exciting proposition for sure, but possibly a much wiser way to walk. In fact, Scripture speaks to us about the significance of obedience being more important to God than sacrifice, or as the prophet Micah said…
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)
Focusing on the internal condition of our hearts is a slower and riskier process than just maintaining our expected “status quo," but I can guarantee you those around us will grow in their respect for you, regardless of your failures and inconsistencies. Not only will your life become more influential, but others will begin to lower their guard and openly confide in you. Watch as co-workers and neighbors, and our kids, begin to ask about our lives; wondering if they too could live like we do, honestly and without regrets.
We’ve seen what happens to celebrities, public leaders and elected officials who have carefully and deliberately cultivated sterling “reputations," but failing inside—broken at the core, lacking character. Disaster explodes in a single photograph or anonymous reporter's source, launching large, massive waves of rippling cynicism and broken relationships in every direction. A media frenzy mauls the families and careers of those too close and one more failed man falls in the public arena. Adding, as Pink Floyd puts it, to “just another brick in the wall." The cumulative affect… we become tempted to pull back a little bit further from believing, trusting, admiring or daring to hope in others.
As parents, that’s an all-too-real scenario that can wreck the most ideal of homes. We must avoid the lure of building just our reputations if we want to successfully lead our kids into a healthy future without the baggage of personal compromise. We are familiar with haunted eyes of many of our teens, hurting inside with an all-consuming anger and smoldering bitterness at all potential authority figures they encounter for decades, including and especially, those in the church.
It’s time to invest in character and let our reputations suffer a little along the way… I believe the payoff more than makes up for the loss.
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