This blog is an extension of my personal study and my experience in ministry that spans 50 years. Much of what is written in this blog covers theological issues, societal changes, and personal development as a believer in Jesus Christ. Today, I want to address one of my biggest disappointments when dealing with relationships between believers and Christian leaders. It has to do with the integrity of honesty, clarity, and respect.
Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
I would like to start with honesty in response to these two Verses.
1. Honesty. This is a word that is at the heart of integrity.
Integrity defined: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
Honesty is hard for most of us to execute because there are times we just don’t want to be honest with people about situations where we have personality issues and/or where hidden agendas are present. We all hold back information that we deem is private or damaging to our relationships. Yet, being direct with the information that is public and in open discussion, we must address the honesty factor in our communications.
For example, I have had professional relationships with Christian leaders where they have hired me for specific audio or video work. In many of these cases, I have had a long-standing relationship with them, but as times and economies change, ministries need to pivot and move in a different direction. That pivot is understandable. What isn’t understandable is how the new course of action is communicated. No one will argue that change is inevitable in our world … it is how we handle those changes as it concerns our vendors, employees, and ministry supporters that is important. Honestly handling change means we communicate with those we are in relationship with about the changes that are being made. Rarely have I had this kind of relationship where I was honored with information that brought me along with those making a change to an amicable conclusion. I realize there is often private information that cannot be disclosed to the public on why changes are being made, but we must always recognize that integrity starts by how we honor those we work with as it concerns the changes in the partnership. As a Christian in working relationships with others, whether it is in the church or the marketplace, honesty should be foremost in how we communicate with each other.
2. Clarity. This is a word I often find missing in how we communicate. Clarity can only happen when two people, or a group of people, are all on the same page. Everyone understands the directives and the objectives and is given a clear path to accomplishing what they do together. I have been guilty of repeating myself in situations where I need to make sure clarity is a value in what I do. How often do we set objectives as a group only to discover we were not clear in the expectations of them? I would say that clarity is the most important element in accomplishing any goal or objective as a group. People think and process information differently, and this difference can be the reason why so many goals are not met, primarily because we are not clear on the results. Clarity for the church is imperative because it is what we do. We present the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. And, that must be as clear as it can be, all the time. Clarity must be a value in all relationships, all partnerships, and in all agreements between people.
3. Respect. This is a word that defines the character of the people you are around. Respect is an honor you give to people because it is your calling as a Christian to respect all that God has created. Respect means you give preference to other people by listening to them and considering their input important when it comes to your relationship. Respect means you go the second mile to make the relationship work, to be productive, and mutually beneficial for all parties. That doesn’t mean you never disagree … it means you disagree in a respectful manner.
These three best describe integrity for me. It allows for relationships to breathe, have independence, and yet have agreement. The bottom line is that you honor people as God honors us. No one is beyond His scope of love and forgiveness, and that is true for us as well. Integrity in relationships is much like manners in society. We have become a crass and rude society, and care very little about how our attitude or behavior affects other people. As Christians, our calling card is not about us at the end of the day. Our purpose is not to represent ourselves because we are ambassadors for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let’s make it a life goal to bring honesty, clarity, and honor into everything we do.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler