Monday, January 21, 2008

Walking the talk

Jerry Wragg has written a fine series on the importance of cultivating personal integrity in ministry. Here's a sample from Part 1:
Leaders can become adept at disguising reproachable conduct, hiding behind moral slight-of-hand techniques, intimidation, or important titles. Eventually, dishonest men convince even themselves of their “invincibility” until their hypocrisy is exposed in some scandal. When a spiritual leader’s mask comes off and God’s people are forced to deal with the fallout, there often is the recognition that certain “signs” of diminishing integrity were overlooked. During the months following a character-crisis at the leadership level, it’s been a common tendency to imagine that an otherwise decent leader simply stumbled one day into moral weakness, caught of guard by an overpowering temptation. Such conclusions are naïve.

A close ministry mentor and friend, John MacArthur, has said to me on numerous occasions that “when a man falls, he doesn’t fall far.” In other words, a serious breach of leadership integrity does not occur in a vacuum. Men who have, by the grace of God, forged a pattern of moral veracity are not suddenly seduced by a life of lies and hypocrisy. Betrayal of this sort slowly percolates in the heart over time with a host of smaller, undetected compromises. When an integrity scandal breaks, the fall of that leader is more like a short hop! This is not to suggest that godliness makes us immune to Satan’s schemes or our own fleshly appetites. MacArthur is right, however, implying that where genuine biblical integrity has been refined there is the strong traction of spiritual discernment and fortitude which prevents sudden moral plunges. Before enticing interests gain a foothold, pure men have already unmasked the lie and fled the scene as fast as possible (1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22; Heb 5:14).
There's also a Part 2 and Part 3. Both examine the Apostle Paul's non-negotiables of integrity.


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