Integrity – what is it? Some times we say things like, integrity is being truthful, holy, pure, obedient to God, trustworthy, who you are and who you are supposed to be when no on is looking. But the word Integrity is from the latin “integer” and it means “unity.” What that means is, a person of integrity does not live a divided life. There is no difference between who you are Monday through Friday and what you are on Sunday. There is no difference between who you are on the job and who you are at home. Integrity must invade every part of your life.
In most of the circles today, I often hear a lot of people say, “you either have integrity or you don’t.” How true is that assessment? Could that statement be misleading? Is there a better way to explain integrity?
According to Fred Smith, the author of Leading with Integrity, integrity can be compared to a Cantaloupe and a grapefruit. You can have it in one area of your life, but it doesn’t mean you have it in all areas of life.
To him, integrity is not a cantaloupe (one whole area of life), it’s a grapefruit (each individual slice/ part of life). Fred came to this conclusion after observing the lifestyle of some of his co-workers. When it came to financial integrity they were flawless. But when they were out on the road, they were sexually promiscuous.
So he concluded that a person can have 100% integrity in one area of their life and 0% in other areas. They can be very good stewards for example, but at the same time they can be very angry and abusive. In this case, Integrity is not a cantaloupe, it’s an individual slice of a grapefruit.
The grapefruit illustrates the fact that there are different areas in one’s life and it is our calling to live a life of integrity in each area. On the company computer – integrity, on the computer in the privacy of your home – integrity. You don’t pay your tithe faithfully and cheat on your taxes. Or rob God of your tithe and be faithful to Uncle Sam. Integrity must invade every individual slice of your life.
So it is safe to say that having integrity in one area of life is not enough. We must embrace the grapefruit model which allows us to take the word of God and allow it to invade, permeate, shape and impact every part of our lives.
It is not enough to have 100% integrity in just one area of our lives and 0% in other areas. Our faith, finances, values, attitude, priorities, thinking, relationships and commitments – every area of life – must all be influenced by the word of God before we can actually claim to being people of integrity.
How integrated or segregated is your life in terms of integrity? Do you think integrity is a cantaloupe? Why? Do you think integrity is a grapefruit? Why?