(The following is a guest post from Val Harrison, author & homeschool mom. For more information about instilling integrity in your homeschool student, check out our podcast Life Skills 101, over on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.)
I’m honored to write a guest blog post for my new friend Lisa of True North. Lisa and I share the same passion for encouraging and equipping parents and students with what they need to succeed – be it at home, academically, in preparation for a career, or spiritually. It’s especially exciting to talk about the current True North theme of INTEGRITY. What a powerful topic!
As a mom, I know that I want my kids to have strong integrity –
- that they would do the right thing no matter who is or isn’t watching,
- that they would be committed to speaking truth even under pressure,
- that they would choose the right thing even if it contradicts what they feel like doing.
On any given day, you can hear me saying to one of my kids, “We do what is best, not what is easy.” Oh, the good ol’ “mom-isms” of life! There are probably a few at your house as well. Some of my favorites are:
- “Work hard before you play hard,”
- “Don’t trust your feelings, because feelings are deceptive,”
- “We were created for relationship – relationship with God and relationship with others,”
- and my all-time favorite, “Do what is best, not what is easy.”
That last one is what INTEGRITY is all about! It’s about doing what is truly right no matter how we FEEL, no matter what we WANT, and no matter what temptations or pressures may be pushing us toward compromising God’s values.
Good parents are constantly in the process of doing what is right instead of what is easy in the situations they face. That’s why parenthood is so profoundly impactful to our lives – it requires so much setting aside of self for the good of someone else. The very essence of a loving parent is integrity. Now how do we help our children see the necessity for this same quality? How important is it to teach our children to choose honesty and uprightness no matter what? Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of convenience, but where they stand in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.” I want to raise children who can stand strong through all the situations of life.
Moms of teenagers, I hope you will have your students read the following part of this post to help them grow in their commitment to integrity as they prepare for a career.
In my book, GAINING MOMENTUM: Preparing Your Student for the Pursuit of a Career with or without College, one of the sections is called, “Power Steps and Career Habits.” Since Lisa asked me to talk about integrity in this blog post, I thought I would examine some of the power steps and career habits that would be jeopardized by a lack of integrity. Let’s take a look at just a few of them. First, you’ll see the Power Step or Career Habit, then you see how a lack of integrity destroys it.
Improve Interpersonal COMMUNICATION Skills to Build a Strong Career
Lack of integrity ruins relationships. One of the success habits I discuss in the book is the importance of growing your interpersonal communication skills or relationship development. Whether it is a parent/student relationship, boss/employee relationship, relationship between co-workers, or even just neighbors, integrity is a critical part of every relationship. Quality relationships hinge on honesty and doing what is best for the other person even when it is inconvenient or without immediate personal reward. Honoring a person includes being honest with them and treating them fairly. That is what integrity looks like in a relationship.
A Large Network Solidifies Your Future
Lack of integrity causes a professional network to crumble. Your goal is to be constantly growing your network of relationships with people in your career field. This ever-expanding network can produce countless dividends for your efforts. In fact, a large network is seen as a strong hiring asset because that network represents potential clients or potential referrals, and it reveals to an employer that you possess the social skills necessary to grow the company as you have grown your network. However, if you struggle with maintaining strong integrity, that network can crumble quickly. In contrast, purposeful effort to maintain exceptional character can produce an unparalleled strength in your network. The strength of your network depends on the strength of your character.
Understand the Power of PERSONAL BRANDING
Lack of integrity destroys a Personal Brand. We’ve all got a personal brand, and we’re constantly developing it. From your social media posts to the way you dress, your hygiene, your word choices, your posture, your eye contact and the confidence in your voice; all of these factors and more go into the development of your personal brand. Among the many factors, your personal brand is shaped by your integrity. When you are dishonest, it sends the message that you can’t be trusted. When you choose to compromise quality in workmanship, you compromise your personal brand about whether you do dependable work. If you want to stand out in your career field, stay above reproach in your integrity to keep a strong personal brand.
If You Want to be Great in a Career, Learn to be the Servant of All
Lack of integrity is self-serving rather than serving others. Good integrity requires doing what is right for all involved, not impulsively caring about your own desires above rightness. Conversely, to possess integrity is to possess a value for all people in a given situation, and by so doing, you are serving them. Serving others requires humility and empathy. It also produces a much better leader, as serving in every level of work throughout the organization gives a more thorough understanding of all the facets of the business. This principle works because it is a Kingdom Principle – a principle our Creator designed for His Kingdom. Matthew 20:26 and Mark 10:43 both say that “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, learn to be a servant of all.”
God’s Got This – Putting Your Career in God’s Hands
In making decisions, a lack of integrity is relying on your own thoughts rather than relying on God’s wisdom. “To be honest,” I say in the book Gaining Momentum, “my husband and I don’t want our kids to have their dream jobs. We want them to have God’s ideal career for each of them. And there’s only one way to discern what God’s career will is for our students – to help equip them with the habit of seeking His will in all facets of their lives” (49). Imagine that you receive a gift – a package that says, “God’s Choice for Your Career.” You are excited to find out what it is and to get started on your future! However, the label on the front of the package reads, “Warning: This gift only works if you utilize the contents according to the directions.” The directions are God’s principles – your knowledge of them and your ability to implement them. If you want to be in the center of God’s will for your career, make each decision along the way according to His will, not your own; and that, my friend, is having integrity, doing what is best not what is easy or comfortable.
When someone chooses to compromise their integrity, it reveals five things about them:
Breaking integrity shows a lack of trust in God.
God is allowing you to be in this situation, and He has a way for you to respond that fits within His life principles. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We must have faith that God’s principles are the best options in any given situation, even if it doesn’t seem like His principles will work in a particular crisis of decision.
Breaking integrity shows a lack of respect for others.
When you make decisions that benefit yourself at others’ expense, you are not honoring them in the situation. Do you realize that caring enough to be honest with a person reveals your value of that person? If we truly value someone, we will make decisions that are for others’ good. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
Breaking integrity shows a lack of caring for your own future.
Dishonesty, compromise in quality, or short-cuts don’t bring lasting stability. All of these impulsive responses come from a lack of self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” It’s like building a house on shifting sand, it’s going to collapse eventually, just as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-27.
Breaking integrity shows that we’re not seeing the value that emerges through adversity.
What is that value? Growth! God doesn’t bring every difficulty that is in your life, but He certainly will bring good out of the difficulty if you stay the course and work through the crisis with His principles as your guide. When it’s hard to do the right thing yet you do it anyway, God usually has some lessons for you to learn (growth) and some exceptional blessings that follow.
In fact, it has been my experience that the greatest blessings come through adversity. In contrast, when you compromise right morals in a situation to get what you want when you want and in the way you want, you are missing out on the growth and blessings that may have come from unwavering integrity. Romans 5: 3-5 and James 1:2-4 point out the benefits that transpire from staying strong during hardship.
True North’s name indicates its commitment to unwavering clarity in focus – its compass is set to God’s principles and His ways, no matter what the world around it may choose. I love it! This title can be an inspiration to every student who participates with True North Academy.
We’ve spent the majority of this post talking about how career success hinges on strong integrity, and that is true. Integrity is essential in business because the Creator of all earthly systems, both seen and unseen systems, are dependent upon the principles that He established. Even unbelievers, if they live by God’s principles, will reap the benefits of those choices. However, the most important reason that you should seek to possess integrity is because God calls us to live a life of obedience to Him. Matthew 6:33 implores us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His RIGHTEOUSNESS…” Integrity is a commitment to His Kingdom and His will instead of our own.
May God bless you in your journey to seek a life of integrity!
For more info check out our Soft Skills 101 series on Integrity:
- Integrity and Virtue Interview with Cindy Rollins
- Integrity in the Military, Educational and Political Spheres Part I
- Integrity in the Military, Educational and Political Spheres Part II
- Integrity: The Role of a Parent with Rabbi Pesach Wolicki
Books and Resources by Val Harrison:
- Wearing All Your Hats Without Wearing Out by Val Harrison
- Gaining Momentum: Preparing Your Student for the Pursuit of a Career with or without College by Val Harrison
- When Littles are Loud: Maximizing the Moments without Drowning in Chaos by Val Harrison
- Clash in Your Home: A Game Plan for Cleaning Up the Conflict by Val Harrison
Val Harrison and her husband Rich have seven children. Five have graduated from their homeschool while school is still in session for the youngest two. With a degree in communications, she has taught speech and career skills to homeschool students for just under two decades. She is the author of the book series “Your Family God’s Masterpiece” consisting of three books: Wearing All Your Hats without Wearing Out, Clash in Your Home: A Game Plan for Cleaning Up the Conflict, and When Littles Are Loud: Maximizing the Moments without Drowning in Chaos. She is also the author of GAINING MOMENTUM: Preparing Your Student for a Career with or without College. Val loves to encourage and equip parents. You are welcome to visit her website and blog at www.PracticallySpeakingMOM.com or on Facebook at Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM.