How to Teach Integrity Today
“Integrity” can be defined as the state of being whole and undivided. Jacob points us to ways we can work on being the same person through and through…and bringing our kids alongside in the process.
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3
Are you the same person when no one is watching as you are when someone is watching? This is the age old question that causes us to stop and discern whether or not we have integrity of heart. It seems as though in a society littered with unfulfilled promises, people of integrity stick out like a sore thumb. It also seems like those people of integrity are few and far between.
Integrity is not something people just have or don’t have, it is something we develop. We must work on the deepest parts of our soul in order to maintain and grow our desire to be the same person through and through. As you do this yourself, bring your kids alongside in the process.
Let’s look at a couple of ways to show kids how to develop integrity:
1. Let your “yes” be “yes and your “no” be “no” (Matthew 5:37). – When you make decisions, stick to them. Your kids need to know they can take you at your word. This is not solely for gaining their trust, it is to give them an example of what it looks like to be a person of integrity. If for some reason you aren’t able to keep your word, show your children what it looks like to own that and ask for forgiveness.
2. Give kids opportunities to practice. – Allow kids to make their own choices (even if it is only in one or two areas to start). As situations arise where they might want to change their mind or choose differently, use these as opportunities to remind them about the importance of keeping their word. This can be anything from what kind of candy bar they initially said they wanted to following through when they told a friend they would hang out even when something more fun comes along later.
3. Get their perspective. – Ask your kids to give you their perspective of you when it comes to integrity. (Do you see mom/dad act the same at home and in public? What things look different?) Allow them to speak into areas you might not be seeing. As you open yourself up to evaluation, hopefully this will create dialogue for you to be able to speak into their life as well.
The way we live our lives is the best example we can give our children of what it looks like to be a person of integrity.
What do you think it means to have integrity? What objects do you think teach us about integrity (ex: building…what does it mean for a building to have integrity?) Why is it important to have integrity?