This article is part of The Melanin Series’ “Know Your Worth” short-read miniseries. This series addresses the varying elements of knowing one’s value and self-worth.
When you hear the word integrity what do you think of?
For me, as I was growing up, I did not think about integrity as an important part of developing my self-worth. As a child, I do not think I even knew what integrity was. I think I only became conscious about integrity as I was entering my twenties. I go into detail about my journey with Christianity, which also explores the evolution of my journey with self-worth and self-esteem, in this article. Essentially, I was challenged to assess my life and my relationship with God, which included analyzing virtues such as integrity.
To be completely transparent, I don’t believe that I had a strong foundation with integrity in my life. A lot of this came from not knowing who I was nor having a strong sense of self-worth. I believe that a lot of us, especially young people, tend to compromise their integrity for self-acceptance. The reality is that if you are secure in yourself and have a strong relationship with God, you do not feel the need to compromise your integrity.
Like the other articles in the Know Your Worth series, we will be exploring how integrity affects your self-worth. Make sure that you keep reading to the end of the article! We will be giving some tips to help you maintain your integrity in the face of adversity.
What exactly is integrity?
To understand exactly what integrity is and how we can keep it in our lives, we need to know it is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines integrity as:
firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic valuesMerriam-Webster Dictionary
This definition compares integrity to incorruptibility. Just the sheer experience of being human compromises this definition. Humans are not incorruptible. We are not perfect, nor were we built to be perfect. We are not of soundness, wholeness, or completeness.
Integrity is not just for those who are Christian.
Integrity is for everyone. The world is filled with so much pain and suffering. Living with integrity fills your life with so much peace, joy, and freedom; however, if you wish to learn about how to become a Christian, click here.
The Bible does not specifically address integrity; however, the Bible does address how a person with integrity should ask. Simply look at Jesus. He is, was, and will be the only sound, whole, complete, and perfect person to walk the Earth. His purpose on Earth was to sacrifice Himself to give humans a chance at eternal life. During His time on Earth, Jesus gave us a blueprint of how to live our lives with integrity. Both He and the Bible say we can live our lives with integrity by doing what is right, praying, remaining faithful to God, and obeying His word. Galatians 5:22-25 tells us how we can achieve integrity by living the way God wants us to.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.Galatians 5:22-25 New International Version (NIV)
How does integrity affect self-worth?
As explored in the first edition of this series, individuals that have a low sense of self-worth, traditionally have a low sense of self-esteem because they are unable to see their value. When people have low self-esteem they tend to make self-destructive choices because they do not care about themselves.
Having integrity shows that you care about yourself. In making wise and safe decisions, you show that you care about yourself, your reputation, those close to you, and your future. Jesus obeyed the Word of God to a tee. In every decision that He made, He thought about His values, which were aligned with what God wanted. Integrity means living according to your values. Positive values reflect a positive view of oneself, which in turn reflects a high-level of self-worth. When you have integrity, you don’t settle for things that do not align with your values.
Without integrity, you are more likely to compromise who you are, which subsequently lowers your self-worth.Tweet
When you align with the Word of God, you will begin to see your worth, purpose, and value is rooted within Jesus. When you see that, you will begin to protect your heart. By protecting your heart, you preserve your self-esteem for you know that your heart is the source of all that you think and do. In protecting your self-esteem, you preserve your integrity, because you no longer feel the need to compromise yourself to seek acceptance from the world. Finally, by preserving your integrity, you accept your self-worth in Jesus Christ.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
So, how do we protect our integrity?
- Begin with honesty. We must first look inside ourselves to see if we’ve been living with integrity. What does this look like again? Remember Galatians 5:22-25? Are you loving to all people, whether they deserve it or not? Do you attempt to live your life with joy? Do you, overall, obey the word of God? Now, be honest! The reality is that most of us do not follow the Scripture. This leads to our next point.
- Receive forgiveness. We must ask God for forgiveness for our sins through prayer. In asking for forgiveness, we are owning up to our shortcomings. We are acknowledging our weaknesses, practicing honesty, and attempting to live our lives with meaning according to the Word. Make sure that you forgive yourself too! How can we expect God to rescue, redeem, and transform us if we refuse to let go of our sin? We invite integrity into our lives when we hand over our transgressions and begin again in Christ. Remember, we all stumble and fall but if we do not attempt to rectify this with God, then this complicates our relationship with Him.
- Protect your heart. As Proverbs 4:23 says all things that we do flow from our heart. Are you surrounding yourself with content, environments, people, media, and information that supports your pursuit of integrity? If not, then most likely you are doing things that do not reflect integrity. If this the case for you, then it is time to cut the things out of your life that is compromising your integrity.
- Start small. To live with integrity is to walk and talk like Jesus. Yes! This sounds daunting, and Jesus knows this is the case. He was the most perfect man on earth; despite this, He is not expecting perfection from us. He knows we have faults. Rather than trying to live perfectly, start small. There is a saying that goes “treat others the way you would want to be treated”. We are Princes and Princesses in the Kingdom of Heaven. We should expect to be treated with kindness, love, and gentleness, right? Therefore, we should treat others as such. Practice forgiveness, patience, compassion and everything that the Bible says we should give to our brothers, sisters, and even enemies.
What does integrity mean to you?
Share your thoughts and comments below!
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