Last year my sister suggested to me that I pray for a ‘word of the year.’ Each December she spends time asking God to give her a specific word that will characterise the next year. It might be something that He wants to stretch and challenge her in or something new He wants to reveal. It could be part of His character, or something in her character that He’s going to help her develop. It’s like a lens to look through at the different experiences she has throughout the year and it’s a chance to focus and put His voice first in her life. My sister encouraged me to do the same and to pray into what my word for the year was and the word that I kept coming back to was Integrity. I felt like God was challenging me to constantly develop my integrity and to make sure it was a value in my life that I prioritised throughout the year.
2018 was an amazing year in so many ways, I had some incredible highs (getting married tops the list, but Kieran Trippier’s free-kick in the Semi’s is a close second) yet I also had some really tough moments as well. Pressing into God in these situations and choosing to have integrity wasn’t always the easy option and often not the option I wanted to pick, but looking back I can see that having that word as my reminder for the year was exactly the word I needed, and I am pleased that God put it on my heart.
Integrity is hard to define. In the dictionary, it’s defined as “sticking to moral and ethical principles” at Kick we came up with slogan “doing what’s right, even though no one is watching.” These definitions are great, but incomplete without remembering that true integrity is living and speaking based on what God says is right. We should base all we do off God’s principles and morals, He is the author of everything, the creator of heaven and earth and if we believe that, then we also need to believe that he created us to live off His standards of truth. He created us to receive our moral and ethical principles from Him sotherefore any other place we find our values is a man-made opinion and not true integrity.
“May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.” Psalm 25:21
God’s Spirit can create integrity within us. Much in the world around us can rob us of it.. People and situations will intentionally and unintentionally corrupt and compromise our integrity. We need to be surrounding ourselves with people who will hold us accountable, people who live their lives with integrity because otherwise we will find ourselves fighting to keep our integrity. Now we will all make mistakes, we will all get things wrong, we are human and therefore imperfect but we need to own up to our mistakes. Someone once said to me that sins multiply in silence so we need people around us who are calling us out on our mistakes, people who are fighting for our integrity as well as encouraging us to fight for it too. In times of high stress, or times with high emotion it can be especially hard to keep our integrity, but the key is own up to our mistakes. If we continue to strive for a life of living with integrity under God’s truth of grace and forgiveness, then even when we make mistakes we will keep our eyes fixed on what is important. Living with integrity under God’s truth of grace forgiveness makes a huge difference in our lives, both how we need to receive & experience it ourselves, but also offer it to those around us who make mistakes.
Integrity is a choice, and we have to make that daily choice to live with integrity, to do what is right, even when no one is watching. There’s no point saying that we are being honest, shouting about how truthful we are, if behind closed doors we are a different person, or if with a different group of mates we act differently because we want to fit in. Integrity is not defined by claiming to be honest; it’s defined by the choices we make. Integrity is a hard choice, because it asks us to deny our selfish desires. We miss the opportunity to get what we want, when we want it, and how we want it.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Dumbledore // Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Remember to choose integrity, remember to choose God’s truth, dig deep into God’s word and live your life in constant conversation with your Father. Let Him guide your decisions and your actions, and then living with integrity becomes an easier choice to make.
Robbie Smart – Sports Coach