Integrity: A basic requirement in leadership

Reverend Martin Adhikary

20 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Integrity: A basic requirement in leadership

The word ‘Integrity’ comes from the Latin word “integrare”, which means ‘to make whole’. Integers are whole numbers, to integrate is to combine parts into a whole. Integrity has to do with wholeness. A person of integrity is one who is whole: 1) in what one says and what one does, 2) in what one is in public and what one is in private. May be we can mention here some Bangla words that are related to Integrity. They are: Sarolota, Satota, Sadhuta, Siddhata, Naeparayonota, Akhondota, Sampurnota . Integrity is most essential for one to be a good leader. People follow a leader to whom they can believe and trust. All leadership is moral and spiritual because they are related to integrity.

However, some modern day leaders lack the essential quality of integrity resulting in people’s sufferings. So, this story is very much timely and can be read by all who aspire to be leaders in the coming days. 

The Biblical example of Daniel, one of the great Old Testament’s prophets:

Daniel worked under five non-Israelite emperors during the exilic period in 6-5th century B.C. because of his high degree of integrity of his character.

1.            He maintained his integrity and credibility throughout his life/time (6:4-5)

2.            He could not be faulted by his enemies (6:4-5)

3.            His prayerful life was transforming (6:10,13; 9.  See also Nehemiah 1, 2:4, Ps. 55:17)

4.            He was prepared to pay the price for doing right (6:21-)

5.            He integrated service for man and service for God - no dichotomy (6:21-)

Biblical scholars observe: “The lions could not eat Daniel because he was too much back bone!” Integrity makes the backbone of our life and ministry.

God looks for integrity in us, especially in a leader: God exhorted King Solomon in the Old Testament when he ascended the throne of David, his father: “As for   you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness...”  (1 Kings 9:4).

A man of integrity leads with confidence. “The man of integrity walks securely..:” (Proverbs 10:9). In contrast, the “wicked man flees though no one pursues him” (Proverbs 28:1). Integrity gives power to our words, strength to our plans, and force to our action. When integrity is established, much can be done.  But if our integrity is in doubt, little or nothing can be done. “In your teaching...  show integrity so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us (Titus 2:7-8). How we can cultivate integrity?

We should not neglect what we may call small things or minor issues. Everything matters.

We cannot be faithful in a big thing if we are not faithful in little ones. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things” (Matt 25:21). Shepherd David was so faithful in his work as a shepherd that eventually God made him king over Israel.

A true and godly leader must say no to temptations. It is very hard to say NO. But gradually it becomes easier. St. Paul admonished his disciple in the faith against any greed for money: “But you, man of God, flee from all these...” (1Timothy 6:11). Temptations always have strategic timing!  Consider the lives of Joseph, of Jesus.

Be proactive about this: if some other people could do this, with God’s help I can also do this!

No one can be a saint in public remaining something different in private life. King Saul was more concerned about his public image than his personal life. “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel”, he urged Prophet Samuel (1Samuel 15:30). People give so much value to their ‘Public faces’. Too many unjust and evil things happen because of this way of life and thinking. Many dowry deaths happens in our societies because of our craving for so-called public face.

A good leader must keep his/her conscience clear:

Transparencies before God and before people are both needed in a good leader. One needs to be aware of any mixed motive or hidden agenda, and be ready to be ruthless with ourselves for the sake of truth.

Integrity of a leader in his/her conjugal life is of paramount importance. It is of paramount importance for a leader to have integrity in his/her sexual life.

Fidelity in the lives of husband and wife is very basic. Sexual immorality is very common in our days, and in all societies.

If you are a leader you need to take extra caution for fidelity.

The fall of a leader does not happen overnight—it hatches over time.

A wise and honest leader does not fail to heed to any warning signal.

Sexual sin does not happen suddenly. Attitude lies behind action (Matthew 5:27-8).

We can jot down here-under some attitudes that one ought to avoid:

i.              Careless towards appetites, e.g. eating, fantasizing, addictions

ii.             Compromising: ethical, doctrinal issues, etc.

iii.            Refusing to be accountable: ‘I know what I’m doing’ type of complacent attitude.

iv.           Rationalising what we know to be wrong.

Establish clear boundary lines for your relation with people of other sex. A Nigerian proverb: “What you do not eat, do not smell”. See Proverbs 6:27-8).

i.              Cultivate a strong ongoing relatio ship with your spouse. Build mutual trust. Have what you need within your marriage. See Prov.5:15.

ii.             Keep yourself busy/occupied, and avoid idle time and thoughts.

An English proverb: “The devil tempts all, but an idle man tempts the devil”.

As any good leader always thinks of lofty things and goals so he/she should always be vigilant about himself/herself. Everything rise of all with the rise and fall of the leader.


The writer is a Christian Theology teacher