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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
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Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 12
Characater and Integrity

By way of quick reivew, I am using the word "grace" as an acronym in this teaching series to identify five values that are universal to the church. The "G" stands for "God's Presence" and our pursuit of Him. We talked about that in lessons 1 to 4. The "R" stands for "Restoration of Souls," and we talked about that in lessons 5 to 8. "A" stands for "Advancing God's Kingdom," and we talked about that in lessons 9 to 11. Now we are on to the "C," which stands for "Character Based Leadership," which is what we are going to talk about now.

As we discuss this, please be mindful of what God has to go through to get us to be leaders, e.g., how much time God works with us to bring character into our lives? And you can see how important developing character is to God.

Look at the word of God and at the people in the word of God -- did God have to work with some people a long time before He could use them? The answer is, "Yes." I don't know what all went on with Abraham's life, but I do know that he was seventy-five when God began to send him out. So I don't know what God had to do in those first seventy-five years, but God had to work on him a little bit in those other years after that, too -- those twenty-five years between the time God gave him the word that Isaac would be born and the time that he was born.

Abraham is not the only one who God worked with for a long time to get them ready for leadership. God had to do something in Jacob. His name meant "deceiver" and he was a manipulator. And God had to do something in him before He could change his name to Israel so that he could fulfill his destiny. Look at Joseph. Did God have to do a little working on Joseph? The guy was put into slavery in Potiphar's house, then in jail. God had to do some work on this guy's life to get him ready to lead the world at that time, as he would be like the Prime Minister in Egypt. Then you have David. God worked David over and over again. He anointed him when he was thirteen or so, and then David did some good things and David had seventeen years. Part of that time was "cave ministry," where he would just kind of run in and out of caves, running from Saul. Eventually everything was brought underneath him in authority and the kingdoms were united when he was about the age of forty. But God had to work on David a long time to get him ready.

Just look at all the people that God had to spend a lot of time getting prepared. What about Moses? How long did God work on this guy? He was eighty years old by the time he got to Pharaoh. God worked on him a long time. If you look at the people that God used, you will see how important character is by looking at the amount of time that God worked on these people. Obviously it's pretty important to Him. Look at all the time that God invested into building character in people's lives. That lets us know that our character is very important to God.

Character is important to both godly and secular people. The financier J. P. Morgan was asked, "What is the best collateral that somebody can give you?" His answer was simply "Character." Another Morgan, G. Campbell Morgan, who was a well-known teacher and preacher in the 1800s, was with D. L. Moody one time in Northfield. Moody made this statement, it was a rhetorical statement. He said, "What is Character?" And G. Campbell Morgan realized that Moody really wanted to answer his own question, so he just sat back and let him do so. Moody thought for a while and he said, "You know, character is who you are in the dark."

As we talk about character-based leadership, there are really three aspects of leadership that we should cover. The first one happens to be integrity, so we're going to cover integrity in this lesson. After that, we will talk about intention and then we will talk about having initiative.

The word integrity means a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code; a state of being unimpaired in soundness; a quality or condition of being whole or undivided or completeness. Basically all of those fit what we're trying to talk about when we talk about integrity. It means that what you are on the inside is what you are on the outside and what you are on the outside is who you are on the inside. You are not putting up something on the outside that everybody can see that is different from who you are on the inside. Integrity is being the same through and through.

Now if there's one man in the Bible who we can learn from who had integrity, it would be Daniel. Daniel was a young man who was taken into Babylonian captivity with a lot of other guys. He was a young man who essentially had some convictions and would not veer from those convictions. Nebuchadnezzar and his whole crew were not godly people and they weren't doing things God's ways. When Daniel got over to Babylon, he wanted to do things God's way, but the environment and culture around him were not conducive to that.

Daniel 1:8 states, "Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king." He asked the chief official for permission to eat other things instead. Now nobody was going to hold him accountable for this. He didn't have some priest looking over his shoulder questioning if he was eating the right things. He had some good excuses he could have used to compromise, but he chose not to because he had integrity. And you know happened? Whenever you choose to do it God's way, God always shows you His favor. It says in the next verse, "God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials."

God always grants favor whenever you choose to do it His way. He always does. In fact Daniel would be a man who, throughout his whole life, stayed a man of integrity. Later on when they were trying to find something wrong with him it says this in Daniel 6:4, "Then the commissioners began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs, but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him." Wouldn't we all like to have that reputation? Throughout all of eternity, this is how we remember Daniel -- he was a man of integrity.

Daniel was a man who had power, but power didn't corrupt him. He stayed true and was always the honest person. Sometimes people in places of authority walk in corruption just because they can. Integrity is simply being on the outside as you are on the inside. But the truth is, all of us have a secret life. The Bible describes this when it says, "Whenever you pray in secret or when you fast in secret..." That means we are always doing these things in secret. So you may not have much of a secret history, but you do have one. Each of us has something going on the inside that's not all on the outside. The issue remains, is what is on the inside the same as what is on the outside?

One day everything that is on the inside will come out. The word of God says this in Romans 2, "The day will surely come when God by Jesus Christ will judge everyone's secret life."

This is my message: God is trying to bring integrity into everyone's life because it is integrity that will qualify us and give us effectiveness in ministry.

How does character come? How does integrity come? Is it something you're born with? Does it come automatically? Is it part of your makeup? Does it come by the way you were raised? No doubt some of these things can have a part, but the truth is we develop character and integrity by going through trials. The word of God says in Romans 5, "... not only this but we also exult in our tribulations knowing that tribulations bring about perseverance, and perseverance brings proven character. And proven character brings hope."

So how are you going to develop this kind of character and integrity? Usually, it's because you are tested in those areas. It doesn't come automatically; you are tested in those areas, you go through trials and hardships in them. God begins to build that character in you as you go through those times of testing. You can say you're this way or that way, but you really don't know that you are this way or that way until times of testing come because times of testing reveal your heart.

We will talk a bit more about this in our next lesson.

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-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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