Daniel and his three friends are some of my favorite bible characters. They modeled what it means to live a life of integrity. Several years ago James Patterson and Peter Kim authored the book, The Day America told the Truth. They conducted a survey by asking Americans what they would be willing to do for 10 million dollars and were shocked at their discovery. In this post, with a backdrop of their findings, I suggest 5 ways to deepen your integrity from the book of Daniel.
Here’s what the authors learned about integrity from their research.
- Would abandon their entire family (25%)
- Would abandon their church (25%)
- Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
- Would give up their American citizenship (16%)
- Would leave their spouses (16%)
- Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
- Would kill a stranger (7%)
- Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
When I read this survey my heart sank. I can only imagine that since that survey over 20 years ago, a similar survey would yield even more discouraging results.
However, Daniel and his friends model for us these 5 ways we can deepen our integrity in a world that seems to discourage it.
- Be willing to make tough choices. On several occasions Daniel made tough choices like refusing to eat the royal food and refusing to worship the image of the king. Although each choice carried a potential deadly penalty, he stood his ground.
- Treat your adversaries with respect. When King Nebuchadnezzar issued an edict for all the wise men (Daniel was considered one of them) to be killed because no one could interpret his dream, Daniel appealed to him with great tact and wisdom. His actions averted certain death for he and many others.
- Build your moral compass around Jesus. The story of Daniel consistently reinforces how Daniel kept his deep commitment to God even though he lived in a pagan world and was force fed that culture’s beliefs.
- Stay consistent in the small things. At one point the king demanded that he and he alone be worshipped for 30 days. Anyone refusing to do so would be killed. Daniel had prayed three times daily to the one and true God for decades. He could have easily cut corners for just 30 days. Yet he stayed true to his allegiance in what could be perceived as an inconsequential issue (just take a break for a few days).
- Realize that people will either become bitter or better when you live with integrity. Several significant government officials began to respect and support Daniel after they experienced how he responded to them with integrity and character. Yet at the same time other officials became jealous of Daniel and were offended at his integrity.
Leadership integrity is crucial in the days in which we live.
What choices have helped you deepen your integrity?