Healthy Leaders Require Integrity by Pastor Mike Ware

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We know that our lives will be judged on our example, and our example determines our character. And our character will become our lasting legacy. So let’s talk about how we can create the kind of legacy we want to leave behind.

This world is shady, dishonest and deceptive. We’re living in an era of deception. There are more lies being told now than ever before. And I’ve heard it said that if you tell a lie long enough, people will start believing it’s true. We’re surrounded by a lack of integrity, so the first step toward leaving a God-worthy legacy is to live our lives with integrity.

Integrity comes from the word “integer,” which means a whole number, something without fraction. Nothing is missing. It is complete. As I think about this in terms of leaders, three practical things come to mind:

  1. We must be people of our word. I cannot be on a team or build a team with people who I do not trust to keep their word. Back in the old days, a handshake was a good promise, but today we’ve got all these contracts and clauses. God always challenges me with Psalm 38:2, “You have magnified your word above your name.” We all call on God’s name, we rely on it because it’s powerful. But what makes the name of God good is that His word is good. When God says something, it’s His bond. If He broke His word, we would no longer trust Him! So for a leader or someone we’re inviting onto our team, if their word isn’t good, their name isn’t good! Their word must be their bond or they have no place on our team.
  2. We must tell the truth. Truth will irritate you before it liberates you. Truth is the foundation of our integrity and our character. People may forgive me if I make a mistake, but they won’t trust me if I don’t tell the truth. One of my greatest pet peeves is that I don’t like liars. I can’t stand them! I cannot build with someone who doesn’t tell the truth because they are not loyal and will not be faithful. If they’re not truthful, they can’t be part of my team. Every member must be honest with God, honest with others around them, and honest with themselves.
  3. We must manage ourselves well. Top CEOs in America say they are having trouble hiring people because of their lack of punctuality, lack of communication, and lack of leadership. We have a generation that is lacking in character things! As a pastor and a father, my word has to be good. I have to follow through with what I say. If I’m going to say I will show up at a certain time, I have to be faithful to show up at that time. As a mentor, I also have to hold my team to the same standard. I have to teach them and lead by example in managing myself so that they too will manage themselves well. Those who cannot do not belong on my team.

I encourage you to help your team form a God-like character in the following ways. As you do, I believe God will stir your spirit and confirm your calling as a leader and mentor. His presence will be with you in a greater way, and He will guide you as you guide your team to become men and women of character that will leave His divine mark on your community:

Invest in your team. 

Figure out what kind of hat to wear. One day you might need to wear the boss hat; another day the pastor hat; another day the friend hat. You have to figure out what kind of hat to wear to help your team process the things they’re going through in their lives. It’s how you will connect. It’s how they’ll see your character up close and personal. It’s how they’ll decide to pursue the same God who gave you the capacity to touch their lives so that they can touch the lives of others.

Coach your team.

Challenge your team by asking them the hard questions when you need to ask them the hard questions. Our world does not challenge character anymore. It lets you get away with everything! But God wants us to be like Him. I want to make sure our team makes and leaves a mark that represents who Christ is. For this reason, I have to lead them well, bringing to their attention when they display and do not display His character. This is a lifelong journey. There will be bumps in the road. But we know that regardless of our shortcomings, as we pursue God, He will redeem the situation, the time, the person. God’s greatest successes are often redeemed failures!

Choose to be a leader who lives as the “express image” of God in his church, community and world. Do the hard work it takes to make an indelible mark on the people around you. Grow your team. Duplicate yourself. Lead them to make the same mark so that those you serve can be permanently changed. It’s possible!

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