(Here's a post from Cory Whitehead, editor of the Building Church Leaders newsletter, one our Leadership guys on site at the Catalyst conference here in Atlanta.)
Integrity. We hear all about it today, or at least the lack thereof. Enron, Martha, fallen church leaders. We hear about the breakdown of integrity constantly, but we don't hear much about the upright, about those that do not and will not compromise their integrity. Those stories usually have to come out in our personal conversations and experiences.
At this year's Catalyst Conference, Andy Stanley spoke about integrity. In 1 Samuel 24:1-4a, David had the perfect opportunity to kill Saul, stop living like a bandit, and take over the leadership of Israel as God had promised. David had the opportunity to put an end to it when, in the only place in the Bible that it speaks of "relieving oneself," Saul enters a cave to do so. Consequently, Saul enters the cave that David and his men are hiding in.
But David didn't take offense. The perfect opportunity to move forward, to make progress, to "follow God's will," but he didn't take it. Why?
He showed tremendous restraint. He decided to wait on God to crown him king, not to take matters into his own hands. He didn't kill the king because, after all, God had a law against killing. He didn't bypass the law and principles of God. And He trusted God's greater wisdom and plan.
We like to take matters into our own hands and to progress. We like to call some opportunities "open doors" in order to make progress. But "open doors" aren't always an invitation from God, said Stanley. Not when they're against God's laws, principles, and wisdom.
Stanley reminded me that I'm not too good at evaluating my circumstances. I get emotional and saturated by my environment. Stanley made a good point, something I need to remember when it looks like the stars are aligning and "God is opening a door." He said "opportunities must be weighed against something other than the uniqueness of the circumstances surrounding them."
We like to make progress, so when something looks, feels, sounds like a God thing, we chalk it up to what? A God thing. But in 1 Samuel 24, David says this to Saul, "May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.
David waits. And through waiting, his situation later turned out better than if he would have been crowned king by means of assassination. Stanley and King David reminded me that the most direct route to what I want is RARELY the best route.
How have I comprised my integrity lately and chalked it up to a God thing? How have I practiced the God-talk, but really I was compromising my integrity by defying the laws, principles, and greater wisdom of God. How have you?