Last night a good friend took our ministry team through some teachings to help us be more equipped in dealing with broken people. In his talk he gave me a new understanding of the word integrity. I had always looked at integrity as being very honest, and living in the same manner that you say you are, or tell others to. This has not changed, I still believe this is integrity.
But what Matt talked to us last night about was the idea that integrity talks about integrating. In my definition above it would mean to integrate your beliefs and your life, or your words and your deeds. But Matt took that a bit further.
He explained that we are all in some way fractured people. Through our socialization, our genetic dispositions, our history, and I am sure accidents along the way we usually look at ourselves in pieces. A popular way of saying this would be, "there are many facets to my personality" or in the romantic drama Shrek, "Ogres are like onions, they have layers". Particularly in Christian or religious communities we will further compartmentalize ourselves into the parts we think are good, and the parts that we think are bad. We feel like God wants to eliminate the "bad" parts and encourage to "good" parts. This can often lead to pretension, or the Sunday face.
Matt suggests that integrity is integrating the various "parts" of who we are into a complete whole. And in a Christian context bringing our whole self to God, and allowing our wholeself to be redeemed. It also means allowing our whole self to be a part of our communities, and offering our whole self in our ministry to others. He suggests that one of the reasons people may find it hard to relate to church, and religion in general is too often we hide the "darker" parts of ourself, which in turn encourages them to do the same. This results in a false community, with lacks integrity. He also cautioned us that sometimes in a desire for honesty we might emphasize the dark side of who we are, and that again is not holistic.
Now this might be pretty common thinking, and I may be a bit slow, but it really clicked for me last night. I hope you will all become holistic, integrated people.