There seems to be a consensus among leadership experts on what the most important quality of a great leader is. Would you want to guess what it is? Always at the top of the list is integrity. Of course, the logic goes something like this: in order for people to follow you, you must be a trust-worthy person- a person of integrity. Without trust, no one will follow you- so true. As a leader, you must be able to build a high-trust culture so that your followers will come together and accomplish the collective vision of the leader together. But what is integrity- really? Integrity is generally understood as living according to a core set of values. A person is said to have integrity if their entire life matches up with those core principles. It’s similar to the word, “integrated”- it means that every area of life is joined together, combined, unified, an undivided or unbroken completeness. (It’s like opening a book on any page and discovering the same consistent theme throughout).
All of this sounds great in theory, but it doesn’t always work in practice. And I think I know why. There’s one question that no one is asking: Where does integrity come from? Are we born with it? Do we just muster up integrity as we need it? And if so, why do so many leaders fall? Jesus instead, speaks of “righteousness”. This is an attribute of moral purity belonging to God alone. Jesus calls the “Righteous Father” in John 17:25.
Paul says, “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’” Romans 3:10. God alone is truly righteous. No one in the world is righteous in the eyes of the Lord, that is, except… the Christian. We are counted righteous in the eyes of God when we receive Jesus by faith. Paul said he wants to “… be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Philippians 3:9 Our righteousness is based on what Jesus did on the cross. The righteousness that was Christ’s is counted to us. We, then, are seen as righteous in the eyes of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that we have become the very righteousness of God in Christ. To be righteous is to be like Christ who said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 To hunger and thirst for righteousness means that you desire the life of Jesus above all things in life. To hunger and thirst for righteousness you must first realize that you’re hungry.
Three Questions to consider today:
1. Do I “hunger and thirst for righteousness”?
2. Do I need to be “merciful” to someone? We often think mercy is simply withholding punishment on someone who deserves it. But biblically, mercy is actually giving help and compassion to someone in need. It’s an action word, not a passive word.
3. Do I really desire to be “pure in heart”? Are you seeking and maintaining a pure heart? “Pure” means unmixed, unadulterated, integrated- that’s integrity- a life that hungers and thirsts for righteousness (and has a bias toward active mercy and seeks always to be pure in heart). If you live this way, you will be a Kingdom person, a world-changer, a difference-maker, an influencer, a leader. Leading without power means that I know who has the power- and it’s not me. I must live my life only in the power of God- ALL of this begins with confession (acknowledgement of my sin) and repentance- a recognition of what Christ has done for us. It all starts with a transformed heart- from the inside-out. And only God can do that. Exchange your hard heart for the forgiveness of Jesus- and live and lead forgiven.