Michael Jordan was the greatest professional basketball player during the late 1980s and 1990s. However, he was never the highest paid player.
When asked why he never held out on his contract to his team to pay him more money Jordan replied, “I have always honored my word. I went for security. I had six-year contracts, and I always honored them. People said I was underpaid, but when I signed on the dotted line, I gave my word.” Later a reporter asked Jordan would he stand on his previous decision. Michael quickly stated, “What if my kids saw their dad breaking a promise? How could I continue training them to keep their word?” He went on to say, “You stand by your word, even when that might go against you.”
Whenever I hear stories like this, I cannot help but connect them to people of the Bible. In Philippians 1:9-10 Paul challenges the church with the importance of personal and relational integrity. He prayed, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (NIV).
When pure (inward) and blameless (outward) are combined, the Lord is instructing all believers to live with inward integrity before the Lord and external integrity before man.
Without a doubt, the church can be the one place that teaches about living a pure and blameless life. Church leaders have the opportunity to hold their members accountable to these standards so they can grow in spiritual maturity.
Paul addresses this subject in Ephesians 4:11-13 when he writes, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (NIV). The Bible is clear that the church is only part of the maturing process.
Moses, on the other hand, says in Deuteronomy 6:7, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (NIV). There is no greater place to model how to live a pure and blameless life than with your family. This is a critical truth for parents.
But based on the current cultural landscape, there is cause to believe many moms and dads do not understand the importance of “impressing” God’s commands on the lives of their children. One of the main causes for our cultural demise is the lack of integrity in the home. Discipleship with every child begins at home. In the end, parents are ultimately responsible for preparing them for eternity.
Needless to say, this is a serious matter. Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, observed, “Students are experts at noticing inconsistencies between what parents say and do.” It is easy for parents to talk the talk, but the real issue comes down to whether they can walk the walk.
Nothing undermines parents’ efforts in training their children more than when their actions and God’s Word do not match up. Our homes need moms and dads living authentic lives now more than ever. We will never be perfect, but it should be our heart’s desire to live with godly integrity.
Mark Smith serves as the senior consultant for Family Evangelism and Discipleship at the BSCNC. His passion is helping families create a disciple-making culture in their homes through God’s Word and the local church.