Integrity is not only a quality for those in leadership.
When Moses began leading the Israelites through the wilderness, he was quickly becoming overwhelmed with the administration of justice among the vast number of people. To assist with this, his father in law Jethro provided him the following advice:
Exodus 18:21 – But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.
The logic was to divide up the responsibility of oversight of the community to many others to help spread out the workload. But in order for this to be effective, the ones being placed in positions of oversight had to be trustworthy individuals. In the text, these individuals are described as being able, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit.
To select those who were able meant to identify those who have a wealth of efficiency and strength or stamina. Those who were God-fearing were those who respected and honored God, recognizing his sovereignty over people. Trustworthy men were simply men of truth; they did not deal in falsehoods. And those who were hating dishonest profit meant to select men to whom unjust gain or profit gained by violence was abhorrent.
In short, these were to be men of integrity; they could be trusted to faithfully provide guidance and oversight of the community.
The apostle Paul continued this legacy as he instructed the early Messianic leaders in oversight of the fledgling communities of believers.
- Titus 1:6-9 – An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion. As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.
- 1 Timothy 3:8 – Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money…
While these are sound principles of leadership, all believers should be people of integrity.
- 1 Timothy 3:11 – Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything.
- Titus 2:2 – Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance.
- Ephesians 6:1-3, 5-9 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. … Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Messiah. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Messiah, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
Integrity is a hallmark of all believers, no matter their age, gender, or social status. All of us should be worthy of being good stewards over God’s Creation, even if we don’t have a specific leadership role designated for us among God’s people. We all have a responsibility to faithfully honor our Creator, and to carry his name with the respect it deserves.
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