“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” Psalm 105:19
Every year I spend 3 weeks in Denver teaching at the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy. In my Senior Life Skills course (grades 11-12), one of our focal areas is the subject of “integrity”. When asked the meaning of this word, the students offered the following definitions:
- Doing the right thing when no one is watching.
- Doing the right thing regardless of consequences.
- Doing what you are supposed to do.
I pointed out to them that while these are accurate definitions, the word has an even deeper meaning – “the same throughout”. This applies to your life on 2 levels: inside to outside and beginning to end. Integrity is more than honesty. Integrity is understanding who you are, who you have been created to be – your purpose, your identity – and then staying true to that, pursuing it with consistency and perseverance.
Consider the picture to your right. When you look at it, I’m fairly certain that you immediately identify it as a loaf of bread. In doing so, you also make the assumption that if you slice off the left end, the right end or down the middle, it will be bread. You also assume that if you were to core down into the loaf, what you find on the inside will match what you see on the outside. So it should be with your life.
From beginning to end, you should be pursuing that unique purpose for which you have been created and then giving everything you have to turning your potential into reality. What you say you believe, should be reflected in how you live, how you allocate your resources. That is to say, your crust should match your core. You should be the same throughout.
God understands that it takes time to move from the initial mixing of the ingredients, to the curing of the dough, to the finished, well-baked product. This is not a process that can be rushed or have corners cut. As with Joseph, while God may plant in our hearts a vision of His plans for us, He must also subject us to the slow, painstaking procedure of growing, testing and refining in us a character that can withstand any challenges we will face.
How well done is your loaf (life)? Do you pass the “same throughout” test of integrity? Are you passionately pursuing your purpose? No one, especially God, wants a half-baked loaf of bread.