Thursday, April 12, 2007


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.



Troy said...

Simple but truth. The challenge of integrity is really important for Christians to embrace. Too often people have an impression of the church and subsequently God because of their interaction with pious Christians. This often leads to disapointment and alienation when they can't mimic that 'holinesss' themselves. We are all wounded people, a Christian should be somebody who can share God through their own brokeness.

Rebecca said...

Yo Rev.

Sounds like a good talk. I totally agree with Matt's view of how Christians feel they have to "hide" parts of themselves - if only I had a dollar for every time someone's said something like "oh, you shouldn't share your doubts with non-Christians" or "Christians should try and always appear happy"... The sad thing is, that does more harm than good, as it makes Christians appear shallow, or lacking in integrity, or their lifestyles unattainable.

David said...

" 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..."

And another reason is the unsupportable metaphysical talk about Jesus, heaven, God and the rest.

Either be really flexible and make room for any metaphysical theory - they are all equally invalid - or remove this component from your practice.

Can't you have the feeling without the fantasy?

The Rev said...

can you please atleast stay on topic in your tedious critiques?


David said...

You can't have integrity if you are telling people lies.

You aren't even sure which parts of the Bible you can trust. Oh, that's right, your're on a journey where today's integrity is tomorrow's duplicity.

Dan Gale said...

Hey John.
I'm Dan, the kid you talked to after the seminar "Jesus Ruined my Life" at soul survivor. You told me to emal and I would really like to chat some more but I cant seem to find any of your contact details. If you could email me at i would really appreciate it. Thanks.
P.S. Sorry for not actually commenting on the blog.

Deb said...

An old friend of mine, Mark Collier, used to say that a person with integrity was someone who was able to be the same person in 3 different contexts, namely work, family and church - I remember thinking how true that was, then my housemate added that someone with integrity was the same person when no-one was watching - he likened it to someone in the Big Brother house and how they were well behaved at first because 'big brother' was watching and then we saw some of their characters deteriorate over time when the 'real' self came closer to the surface as they let their guard slip. There is no doubt that integrity has to do with being integrated and being somehow 'whole' as a person and not 'pretending' to be someone we are not. My husband and I sat with a couple the other night while they shared their story with us. He was somebody who was secretly living a totally different life. One that was kept very seperate from his 'normal' church/work life. He was not only 'living' differently in this life but had constructed a whole 'other' persona as well which happened to be of the opposite sex. There are many different reasons one might do this, needless to say all pretty complex, but the point is that being the 'same' person in several different contexts can be difficult for many of us. While we may not be as 'fragmented' or seemingly 'fractured' as the man I just mentioned most of us certainly as Matt mentioned continue to hide many 'parts of our selves' from others. I preached a sermon recently about 'wearing masks' and some of the reasons we might do that. It's funny isn't it that as humans we long for connection yet at the same time fear it. We wear our masks thinking that connection will come easier if we 'hide' who we really are - yet the connection we experience will always be less than what we crave because we continue to connect with our masks 'on'.One of my heros Jean Vanier says 'from the womb to the tomb we are fragile beings' fragile beings stumbling around in a broken world. As God's people it's important that we seek to be less fragmented and more integrated as people. This will result in us being more authentic not only in who we are but in the very relationships and connections we crave. Not easy stuff but very necessary. Thanks Matt for your insight - I heard it was a great night! - Deb

Gods_Rhema said...

Good to have you back Rev and sharing with us again..

Sovann said...

Hi rev,

I just read this. I'm reading "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" it's a great book. The author talks about the process he took to become more integrated.

is his website.

Another great book on being authentic is TrueFaced

From an interview:
"In TrueFaced we describe six of the long term effects of wearing masks. These behaviors will identify me:

1. I become highly sensitized to my own sin and I judge the sin of others.

2. I lose my objectivity in a crisis and then I become the issue.

3. I hide my sinful behavior and become more vulnerable to sin.

4. I’m unable to be loved or to love.

5. I become susceptible to wrong life choices.

6. I live always attempting to control others to keep them from knowing the real me.