Silhouette of man looking at a museum artifact.

Live With Integrity

Living with integrity means consistently operating within one’s own value system. Simple, eh?

Not so much. The big things are obvious. Keep your promises, hold to your vows, and set priorities accordingly.

But then, life and all its pesky annoyances start to wear us down. Eventually, all parents hear something like this: “But, mom you promised.” “Yes, but…”

Recently my husband, Mike, and I went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was an emotional experience for us both, but especially for my guy. Here’s why:

Soon after the attack on September 11, 2001, our church hosted a blood drive as there was a huge need. That day Mike made a commitment to give blood regularly for the rest of his life. It was his way of doing something at a time when so many felt helpless.

Last year, Mike reached the 10-gallon donation milestone. I admire his steadfast commitment to helping the country he loves in this small, but significant way. As I watched him slowly and respectfully work his way through the museum, I felt grateful for my husband’s servant heart.

This example of Mike’s commitment to helping others is one of many examples of integrity our children and I see in him. Though not perfect, he lives according to his values, even when it’s not fun.

“Words are cheap; actions are what matter. In life, it matters much less what we say than what we do.” ~ John O’Leary,On Fire

Other than our spouses or best friends, it’s possible our children know us best. They watch every move we make and listen to every word we say (even if it doesn’t seem like it). We are our kids’ most powerful role models, for better or for worse.

“Kids respect adults who walk the talk. Children are sensitive and astute with an uncanny ability to distinguish between adults who only talk a good game and those who play the game by the rules they preach. Credible adults inspire kids’ confidence and admiration. Hypocrisy disillusions children and sends them looking for others to follow.” ~ Karen Stephens

Living a life of integrity is the most important priority of parenting. Yet, practically speaking, it can be challenging.

Here are 3 areas of focus.

1. Commitments
Keep commitments and promises. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to. Keeping your word is foundational to trust.

2. Actions
Think about the big picture before you make choices. Always stay focused on being the person you want your kids to be. No more “do what I say, not what I do.”

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

3. Words
Assume children hear everything you say about them or others. Your words should always match your values. If you value kindness, speak kindly. If you value family, honor them with respectful words.

Keeping commitments, aligning actions, and watching our words can help us live a life of integrity.

This is how we want our children to see us, people who live honorably and choose courage over comfort. It’s not easy, but nothing is worth more than living a life of integrity.

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