In preparation for serving at Mountain Tennessee Outreach Project in the summer of 1988, I was sent a book to read. I read it in a season when theological nuances would have been lost on me, so I cannot vouch for whether or not it is worth reading. But its title said everything I needed to know about it, and its pages reminded me of in greater detail the truth of its title: Who You Are When Nobody’s Looking. The title invites us to consider what integrity might look like.
I’ve been thinking a lot about integrity this week. Integrity is doing and saying what is right. Even when it isn’t popular. Even when it won’t serve to further your personal goals. Even when the crowd is going in the opposite direction. Few have demonstrated this kind of integrity in an overtly public way. It just isn’t that easy to hold to your values when the world around you rewards something just the opposite. Often, the culture around us values setting aside your personal values for professional advancement, financial reward or political capital. Integrity says that no matter what the cost to my career or my bank account, I’m going to do what I know is right.
As Christians, we don’t have to do a lot of guessing about what is right. We simply have to search and engage the scriptures. We go to the Bible to discover what is right in any situation with which we are confronted. But, as you already know, it’s not quite that simple. I cannot come to the scriptures with a question like I would a Magic 8 Ball – opening its pages trusting the answer will come automatically where I have opened the scriptures. No, it’s more a journey of discovery and study and reflections and prayer that’s ongoing in our lives, developing a deep well from which to drink when the time comes. That’s how the scriptures inform us about what is right. That’s how the scriptures serve our desire to live a life of integrity, even in a world that doesn’t always reward it.
So what are you doing to develop that deep well from which you can drink, from which you can be a person of integrity, from which you can consistently be “who you are when nobody’s looking?”
May today be the day you continue, renew or start a journey of discovery by engaging the scriptures so that, together with the power of God at work in your life, you can develop a deep well of life-giving water that will never run dry!
Pastor Becky Jo Messenbrink