“People of God, live up to your name!” –Oscar Romero
Everyday, we are challenged by issues of integrity and character. Working in ministry does not give us a pass. We make choices everyday that either live up to God’s standards or don’t.
Often times, it’s not the big issues that I struggle with, like murder. It’s the small things that challenge me, like gossip, disrespect, cutting corners, or thinking that I’m better than someone else.
Fortunately for me, we have a loving and merciful God who, time and time again, forgives my sins.
Lack of character and integrity bring with them consequences that sometimes go unnoticed. Henry Cloud, in his book, Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, stated that people dealing with character issues were unable to successfully:
- Gain the complete trust of the people they were leading, and capture their full hearts and following.
- See all of the realities that were right in front of them. They had blind spots regarding themselves, others, or even the markets, customers, projects, opportunities, or other external realities that kept them from reaching their goals.
- Work in a way that actually produced the outcomes that they should have produced, given their abilities and resources.
- Deal with problem people, negative situations, obstacles, failures, setbacks, and losses.
- Create growth in their organization, their people, themselves, their profits, or their industry.
- Transcend their own interests and give themselves to larger purposes, thus becoming part of a larger mission. –Integrity, pg. 9
With an understanding of how my character flaws might impact my ministry, it’s important for me to name where I might be struggling so that I can work to overcome them. Here is a list of a few I’m working through right now:
- Judging: This is probably one of the areas I struggle with most. I’m challenged everyday to not judge others on their behaviors and actions. When I judge, I come with an element of superiority over others. That type of flaw in my life can hold me back in my ministry. It effects how I relate with people. I know people have felt judged by me in the past, which then means that I am unable to connect with them.
- Impatience: I want the world to change for the better today! But life does not work this way. I have high expectations of others and myself. When either myself or another person fails to meet the expectations, I can become impatient. That impatience means that others will tread carefully around me and hide the truth from me for fear of me becoming impatient with them.
- Sense of Entitlement: I sometimes have an attitude that I deserve something, whether that is a gift, respect, or influence over others or processes. No one likes to work with people with this attitude. This hinders me from building authentic relationships with those in my church.
- Lack of prayer life: I go through seasons when I am connecting with God regularly and other seasons when I fail to do so. When I am not connecting with God regularly, I know it negatively affects my ministry. During these times, my ministry is more about “going through the motions” than it is about God.
In the end, you can bend your actions to conform to your principles, or you can bend your principles to conform your actions.
Question: What character issues are you working to overcome?