Integrity

I was sitting at my desk one morning and decided to go through some of my old notes and papers, as I do once in a while. Because I read a lot of Christian books and articles and at times I’ll make notes, cut clippings here and there and put them on my desk somewhere and later on I need to put them in some kind of order. My last three or four writings that I shared with you had all been on the side of God’s wrath, tribulation, hell and judgment. And I wanted to write about something a little different.

This one particular morning while going through some older files of papers I came across an outline of a class that I had taken years ago about integrity. I’m not sure but I believe it was on one of my trips to Wittenberg College to attend a couple of weekly courses. It was a standard and the way I knew that I wanted my life to be, and I have tried to follow it in all aspects of my life since then. Although I attended the free Methodist Church all of my life there was a time during my younger years that I didn’t live a Christian life. I started smoking cigarettes at the age of six or seven years old, and by the age of seventeen I was swearing and drinking. I want to tell you that when you do this you can really make a fool of yourself, and I could spend a whole evening on just this subject. But I stopped smoking at the age of twenty-two and the Lord helped me give up the other sinful habits during the next couple of years. During all this time I continued to go to Sunday School and Church, and I thank God for all of the old saints that never gave up on me. Some of them never got to see the changes in my life and the fruits of their prayers.

As a young man I worked at factory labor, served as the union president, as financial secretary for a number of years, as well as other union offices and committees. Later on I accepted a position of department supervisor of two departments that consisted of about 30 to 35 employees. During this time I also became the assistant to the personnel director and a part of the management team that at first consisted of only three men. We settled all grievances, and at that time we negotiated yearly contracts with the union. I did time study’s on piece and day work jobs and helped in interviewing and hiring new employees. This was in addition to still being a supervisor of one of the departments. After eight years of this I accepted the task of developing a production department and becoming the production manager. I also remained a part of the management team as well until my first retirement of forty-seven years in 1991.

I had been retired for a month or so but was still working on a new contract with the committee, and was asked if I would like to return to work part time on some projects the company had. I accepted and returned to my old job while my replacement needed to be off for six weeks. After this I started to work on the projects, such as an ISO Quality system of gathering and documenting a lot of records, writing manuals and procedures. It took about two years to do and then required being certified, with outside auditing periods every six months. We then went to a new computer system that required me to redo all of the work in process procedures manually and enter them into the new system with the help of a summer college student, as he would become available on breaks. There were many other projects that I found very rewarding and at present I’m still working on some projects after sixty-seven years. I sometimes think of those early years when we didn’t have computers, ten key adding machines, calculators, fax machines, cell phones, ball point pens, and many of today’s conveniences that are growing at such a fast rate that each day brings new upgrades and new inventions with last years devices and programs quickly becoming obsolete. I can hardly imagine what another ten or twenty years will bring. It could be exciting or it could be scary. As a part of these changes I could see the tremendous amount of help and potential they could bring about and the need for change. What you could do with the changes you could see would be endless and exciting. Either you changed or you were left behind. A far cry from my first equipment and everything being done with pencil and paper.

Before my retirement some of my projects were to develop a system of production, and auto issue of parts and material used in that production. It also included inventory accountability of hundreds of parts. As well as cost accounting of products. I managed through the transition and production of redesigned galvanized, safety and oil cans and managing the transition of metal to plastic production. I was responsible for scheduling other plants such as Rockdale Metals and Follansbee Sheet Metal in production of Safety Cabinets and Oily Waste Cans for our company. These were just a few of my projects and duties.

In my early years after getting married I knew that if I wanted to do better that I would need to further my education. I tested at the College of Steubenville and was accepted, but I opted to attend the Steubenville Business College over the regular college because I could advance at a much faster pace according to my ability and dedication. So I spent most of 5 years of two to three nights a week attending and graduating from the Steubenville Business College in Business and higher accounting. This all turned out to be a blessing for me.

Now you’re probably wondering why in the world are you reading Bruce Cook's brag sheet. But you see during my 83 plus years of living I have learned many hard lessons, and one of them was that at an early time in my life, work and church I had to learn to except change and that I would need integrity. From the very day I was born there have been continuous changes and not always easy. At first changes were slow, but today things are changing so fast that it's hard to keep up with them. I found that if we don’t learn to accept changes that we miss the bus and get left behind. Look at our Ohio Valley and all of the idle plants, mills and businesses that are rusting or falling apart, and some being torn down. Where I worked there was vision and change and today it is one of the few employers in the area. Look at our churches today as many of them are closed or uniting services together, struggling to survive. And I’m not saying that we should change God’s word, I would fight to the very end against that, but there needs to be other changes in ways of getting people to come and participate with Christians and hear God’s word. Churches or any other business must have a vision or they will soon die. Sometimes these changes can be radical and not all of them are successful, but you don’t know if you don’t try. And there is to much at stake not to try.

As we look at our present building endeavor, we can see that God is doing things for us beyond our wildest imagination. But lets not be naive, the bible tells us that to whom much is given, much will be required. So you see a new building is only the first step in the building up of God’s kingdom. He will expect great things from us as a people, and a church with this new building as a base or tool to reach many unsaved souls.

As I looked over my material I became more interested in what the bible said and started reading sermons on the internet and gleaning from many different sources. My bible, books, Christian articles and of course my aging memory.

As I journeyed through all of these stages of my life I realized and knew that integrity had to be the important factor in my life. As I reviewed my outline about integrity the Lord had me focus in on the Christian aspect of it.

Starting with the word Christian integrity we ask: How do other Christians and non Christians see, perceive or judge you?Have you ever wondered what people associate with your name? Do people say that you can be trusted, that you are reliable, that you can be counted on, that you are a man or woman of integrity? These things should be important to us because our lives speak volumes to those around us. Looking for people of integrity in our generation perhaps could be compared to searching for a needle in a hay stack.. True men and women of integrity are rare indeed. Are you one of them, is your life characterized by integrity? The Bible clearly indicates that our lives should be. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us that we should be as good as our word. Are you as good as your word? We used to teach our children that our reputation was extremely important. Parents would exhort children by telling them that they had worked hard to create a good name for themselves and that the children should work hard to maintain it.

You see without Christian integrity you can never develop trust, and without trust you can never develop potential Christian people. You can’t maintain a following, and without a following you have no one to lead to the Lord. You see there is a gap between what you think your Christian integrity is and what the people or non Christians judge or see your integrity to be. For example if they see or hear you do any of the following, such as: 1. Criticize one of your church attendees or others in public. 2. Or you stretch the truth in conversations. 3. Perhaps you show favoritism by being friendly or speaking only to a select few. 4. Sometimes you choose not to return communications or phone calls. 5.Or say that you wont be home, or out of town when it isn’t true. That you wont be available. 6. Or you say that you didn’t receive messages when you did. 7. You see small lies always matter. There are none to small that it doesn’t matter. When you sacrifice your integrity, you erode your most precious Christian leadership possession or image.

To non Christians or possibly new converts integrity mistakes are forever. You or I could be labeled a hypocrite. And I like what the book called the Message says. It tells us that the word hypocrite literally means play actor. It is the ability to integrate the values of your heart into your daily actions. The key is you must decide to do this, you can’t just slip into integrity. No body ever said “Wow” I just fell into Integrity. It is something you decide on in life. God is going to pull off the masks, there will be no disguise. Truth is the standard and the hypocrite judgment according to Romans 2: 1-16 will be according to truth, according to his deeds, his actions, his attitudes and his advantages. God takes all of that into account when he judges you and I.

We need to keep our promises to others, good or bad they need to depend on what you promise. Keep or live the promises that you make and they will trust you.Speak out for what you think is important. Tell them what God means to you, witness to them and they will respect you much more. We must error on the side of fairness. Revisit scripture (perhaps with others) to correct and be fair to all regardless of the type of decision you have to make.Do what you say you are going to do. Let yes be yes and no mean no. When you tell others you are going to do something they should be able to consider it done. At church, home or work. Others will follow you as a Christian only if you have earned their trust.

When you profess to be a Christian and living the Christian life others are watching everything you do. Everything you say and do counts and depends on a relationship with you. You must accept responsibility for being the very best at what you do, because you are held at a higher level of accountability than before. Everything you do is exaggerated. You are under a magnifying glass, you set the tone. As a Christian you lost the right to be cynical, negative, blame others, be a member of a pitty party, and yes, even some private time. There are four truths of leadership you need to know. They are watching everything you do. There is never a time when you are not leading and you can never not lead. Everything matters, everything you do counts.

Treat others with respect, that their deepest needs are understood, trust with respect and dignity. Remember the Golden rule applies here. If you don’t show us you care, we conclude that you don’t. Gorden Venturella tells us that Loyalty and integrity are probably the least used and practiced words in America today. You don’t even hear them spoken, let alone practiced. We’ve become jaded with all the betrayal that goes on all around us today.

Instead of operating within the bounds of Biblical based core values, not the least of which involves integrity, dying and dysfunctional churches are actively pursuing what the rest of our culture is pursuing and that is a life style characterized by a betrayal of core values. The result is a loss of integrity and resulting in a loss of trust.

There are those in the churches today that profess to be Christians, but who have lost all integrity because of playing dangerous and manipulative games with the Lord, and with his money. We must pray for all of these people.

After surveying thousands of people around the world and performing more than 400 written case studies, James Kouzer and Barry Posner identified those characteristics most desired in a leader. In virtually every survey honesty and integrity was identified more frequently than any other trait.

Religion is a great place to cover arrogance. How many people never make it back to the Fathers heart because of the arrogant spirit of the elder brother that dominates in some churches. As Christians, as people whose citizenship is in heaven, we must show integrity in our words and deeds. The keeping of our work depends on the actions that we take. Abraham Lincoln said that for a man to train up a child in the way he/she should go, he must walk that way himself.(Prov. 28: 6 NASB) Says, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity. Than he who is crooked though he be rich. God says it is more valuable than all the stuff we think is valuable.

( 1Chr 29: 17 NIV) Says I know my God , that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.

Integrity is a teenager refusing to compromise his/her convictions regarding sexual purity even though it means being left out of the “in group”.

Integrity is a teenager willing to fail a test rather than compromise persuasions regarding cheating.

Integrity is an adult saying no to alluring sexual enticement rather than forfeit biblical ethical standards of fidelity to his or her mate.

Integrity is a person in business refusing a tempting offer for financial gain rather than break the heart of the Heavenly Father by breaking one of His commandments. It is consistent character that won’t compromise even if circumstances make it easy and the potential for ill gotten gain is great.

Integrity is a church volunteer saying “yes I’ll perform that ministry, “and doing it often at a great effort, and being there when it would be easier to be somewhere else. And doing it when there is no supervision or recognition.

D.L. Moody said that you can tell a persons character by what he/she does in the dark. And the measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. Christians are no exception, they are cheating on taxes and tests the same rate as the world. Lying at the drop of a hat, and thinking nothing of it.

During one of our presidential elections people were saying that a persons character doesn’t reflect on the kind of a job he/she will do in public office. We----ll- let me tell you, to my way of thinking if a man won’t keep his most sacred vow made before God to his wife, what will he be willing to do with those piddly little vows of public trust? In recent years we’ve seen a lot of preachers and priests suffering from a lack of integrity. Coaches have been fired and athletic programs have been put on probation because of a lack of integrity.

We are quickly becoming a nation that doesn’t know what the word integrity means. Integrity means “ the state of being unimpaired”, soundness or wholeness. And when we lose our integrity, we have lost it all. When we refuse to live by the truth, then we are not living the kind of life that will be approved by God. We as Christians, must live lives of integrity so that the non Christian world will sit up and take notice. Several years ago as a young boy the war ended and the boys coming home from the war were required to get their jobs back, I had one of those jobs and had to be transferred into the department where my father and grandfather worked. My father was a great man of integrity, and I knew that as his son I would have to work harder than anyone else and never do or be accused of anything that would embarrass either of them. I knew that dad would be the first to tell me about it. As a result I became a good worker and after a long haul and a number of years I was recognized for it by advancement in the company.

Charles Spurgeon wrote “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots are withered. Carve your name on hearts and not on marble.

Alfred Whitney Griswold who was president of Yale University, said “self respect cannot be hunted. It cannot be purchased. It is never for sale. It can never be fabricated out of public relations. It comes when we are alone, in quiet moments, in quiet places, when we suddenly realize that knowing the good, we have done it. Knowing the beautiful, we have served it, knowing the truth, in having spoken it.(Eph. 4: 14-15).

In an issue of Moody monthly, George Sweating wrote about the need for honesty in our culture. He referred to Dr. Madison Sarratt, who taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University for many years. Before giving a test, the professor would admonish his class something like this. Today I am giving two examinations - one in trigonometry and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. If you must fail one, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who can’t pass trigonometry, but there are no good people in the world who cannot pass the examination of honesty.

Charles Swindoll in his book man to man mentions three lessons from Daniel 6.1. You will seldom get what you deserve from people, so don’t expect it.2. You will always get what is best from God, so don’t doubt it.3. Your ability to handle both is directly related to the consistency of your walk with the Lord.

In the area of life you cannot lead someone where you’ve never been. And to try to do so is not living a life of integrity and transparency. You must own your own story, and pretending to be someone else and not spinning your story to be smarter or dumber than you are, poorer or richer than you are, better or worse than you are. Integrity is owning the story God has given us to write. We have not all been born with an equal set of gifts, talents or opportunities. Integrity begins with owning the hand we’ve been dealt.

I want to tell you that integrity is the foundation for every relationship that we’re ever going to have in life. It’s the foundation for a good business relationship. It’s the foundation that makes you a good neighbor. Integrity has the power to build trust and trust is what fuels a relationship. All good relationships stem and go back to a foundation of integrity. God’s word tells us that integrity provides:(a. Protection - less fear Psalm 25: 21 “ May integrity and uprightness protect me because my hope is in you.(b. Proverbs 10: 9 tells us it provides security and greater confidence. “The man of integrity walks securely.”(c. Proverbs 11: 3 tells us that it provides guidance and better decisions. “The integrity of the upright guides them.

Doing articles like this always forces me to take a close look at my own life, to self examine my actions and to ask myself the tough questions. Am I leading a life of integrity, of transparency? Am I owning my own story or pretending to be someone else? Am I stuck in a chapter of unforgiveness? Self denial? These are some of the questions that each one of us will have to answer for ourselves. And once we do so with honesty, we will be able to make a commitment to a new life and begin a new chapter, a new journey of faith. And may God help us all in this new journey for Him. There is a poem by an unknown author I got from the Internet that I would like to share with you titled “The Man In The Glass.”When you get what you want in your struggle for selfand the world makes you king for a day,Just go to a mirror and look at yourselfand see what that man has to say.For it isn’t your father or mother or wifeWhose judgment upon you must pass. The fellow whose verdict counts most in you lifeis the one staring back from the glass.Some people might think you’re a straight shootin’ chumand call you a wonderful guy.But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum If you can’t look him straight in the eye.He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the restfor he’s with you clear to the endAnd you’ve passed your most dangerous testIf the guy in the glass is your friend.You may fool the whole world down the pathway of yearsand get pats on the back as you passBut your final reward will be heartache and tearsIf you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

I always like to close by asking this question. Where will you spend Eternity?My friends if your not sure, don’t wait another minute, hour or day to make that decision for Christ. In an instant you can be gone from this world and its to late. Don’t take that chance.

Last Sunday evening we were starting to the car to come to church. Within seconds my wife had a bad reaction to a pill she had taken. With the Lords help we got to the E.R. at Weirton Hospital. But its an example of how quickly something can happen. A while back while implanting a pacemaker in my chest, my heart stopped, but they were able to start it again. Friends it can be over in a millisecond. So adopt a policy of being prepared. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. There are many of you who have already experienced this in many different ways and know what I’m talking about.




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