Have you ever met someone who claimed to be something they really weren’t? You probably believed them at first. As time went on though, you begin to notice their actions didn’t match their claims. They lacked integrity. Sculptors understand about integrity. If the metal or stone they use is bonded into a whole, it is much stronger than if it is divided with thin pieces going in different directions. (Which is why old sculptures are often missing heads, arms, etc.)
We often teach that being a person of integrity is about being an honest person. That is a huge part of it, but it’s more than that. True integrity is when your beliefs, who you present yourself to be and how you speak, act and think are a united whole. You don’t present yourself to be a Christian for example and then proceed to live an ungodly life. Having integrity doesn’t mean you never sin, it just means you make a conscious effort to make your actions match who you claim to be. A Christian living a life of integrity is stronger than a Christian whose life is fractured between Christian and ungodly actions and beliefs.
It is essential to teach your kids what it means to really be a person of integrity. They need to understand, they can’t constantly and consistently make ungodly choices and then claim to be a Christian just because they occasionally attend church or because they say they believe in God. They need to make the effort to live a Christian life…to actually BE a Christian if that is who they are claiming to be. Otherwise their Christianity is more of an optional extracurricular activity.
So what are some things you need to do to raise a child of integrity? There are plenty, but here are some important ones:
- Encourage your kids to read the Bible regularly. Your kids can’t have Christian integrity if they don’t really know what God expects of them. They must read God’s Word and realize what they need to do to live a Christian life. Reading it for themselves will leave them less at risk to false teachers who may try to lead them astray.
- Help your kids know and understand what they believe as Christians. When your kids are young you will need to teach them about God and what it means to believe in and follow Him. As they grow older, you can help them see God as He works in their lives. As they enter the teen and young adult years, you can guide them as they reexamine their beliefs about God and accept them as how they want to live their adult lives.
- Teach your kids how to make godly choices. This takes practice and your guidance. Don’t make your kids’ decisions for them – help them learn how to make godly choices even when you aren’t there to help them. Having the skills to make godly choices, will help their actions more closely match their beliefs and who they tell others they are.
- Help your kids realize when their actions and their beliefs don’t match. Sometimes this will be obvious. At other times, attitudes and behaviors may begin to creep in that don’t seem to lack integrity for a Christian. Over time though, these actions may gradually lead your children away from God and living a life of integrity (even if they continue to attend church services or say they believe in God).
- Have regular discussions with your kids about integrity and what it means to be a person of integrity. While you are helping develop skills that will help them have integrity, teach them what it means. Make sure they understand it is more than just being honest to others. Talk about situations where people exhibit integrity. Discuss how at times it may require them to be very brave to have integrity. Have them share the times when it is easy for them to act with integrity and the times when it is difficult. Help them develop strategies to use when it becomes difficult .
Helping your child become a person of integrity, will not only help their Christian walk, but make it easier for them to be the light God calls Christians to be. It’s an important tool to give them for living a Christian life.