Thursday, May 10, 2012

Integrity Begins at Home

Mary A. Steelman Charisma Channels - Women

Have you ever been treated unethically in a business transaction? Have you ever been grieved by the lack of integrity in a pastor, evangelist or other minister? Sadly, we live in an age in which leaders in both the secular and the spiritual arenas seem to be making up their own sets of rules about how to conduct their businesses, their ministries and their lives.

We may not be able to do much about the current leadership in these arenas other than pray. But if you’re a parent, you can have a positive impact on the next generation. How? By instituting ethics training in your home. This is where it begins. Parents have the God-given responsibility to guide and instruct their children – the future business and spiritual leaders of our nation.

Where do we go to find appropriate foundational truths that lay the groundwork for ethics and morals? How can we purposefully and systematically train our children and ourselves to do the right thing, even when it hurts? Joyce Meyer, Christian speaker and author, states in one of her teachings on integrity, “True integrity is doing the right thing even when no one else is looking.” Isn’t that what we want in our children and ourselves?

For those who hold to the Judeo-Christian faith, such principles are found throughout the Bible, particularly in the psalms and proverbs. The implementation of these teachings along with other training tools will lay the groundwork for integrity in the home and the lives of your children. “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it” (Prov. 22:6, NLT). This is a wonderful promise given to parents, but it carries with it the responsibility to take the time to teach and train the children entrusted to our care.

We must win the battle for the hearts of our children because the heart is the soil in which the seeds of truth, honesty and honor – or the seeds of greed, fraud and deception – are planted. Seeds in the heart can be likened to the seeds planted by a farmer in the ground. He plants … cultivates … waters … protects – and finally reaps a superb harvest.

Parents are planters who have a wonderful opportunity to sow into their children a sense of identity and destiny based on a genuine code of ethics. Their planting places a hedge of knowledge and protection that will, over time, reap a harvest of integrity and virtue. It is this hedge that will protect the leader, later in life, at those very critical moments when, faced with tough choices, he must ask, “What is the right thing to do?”

We live in a visually stimulated culture that inundates our children with information to discourage honesty and virtue. If a child does not have a foundation of values and beliefs, it will be difficult for him to discern right from wrong. In his book “Kingdom Education,” Dr. Glen Schultz, a Christian educator, says, “At the foundation of a person’s life we find his beliefs. These beliefs shape his values, and his values drive his actions.” Obviously, parents are concerned about what their kids might be tempted to do, but of greater concern should be what their children believe because that will determine their behavior, attitudes and eventually the choices they make in life.

Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure and right.” Teaching a moral and ethical code of conduct is a process that begins at birth and continues throughout the life of your children.

Webster defines “integrity” as “virtue tested and approved; uprightness of character; honesty; complete and undivided.” One way we teach it to our children is by example. They need to see honor and integrity exemplified in a practical way in the home. We should find ways to be transparent and let our families know when it is a struggle to make the right choices to be honest and truthful.

As parents, we must first have the spiritual insight ourselves before we will be able to guide our children into this type of wisdom. We are encouraged in Psalm 139 to ask of the Lord: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (vv. 23-24). The Scriptures give clear guidelines and instruction to both parents and children for success in outlining and following the path of integrity.

Other than teaching by example, there are many ways to implement good training in the home – the bedrock that will shape your child’s behavior in the ensuing years. Every couple should have their own unique plan based on scriptural values and insights and consistently put this plan into practice. Remember: The future corporate and spiritual state of our nation lies in your hands!

Adapted from Rise of the New Ethics Class by Stephen G. Austin with Mary Steelman, published by Charisma House.

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