August 18, 2017

A Devotion on Credentials and Integrity

     By this I will know that God is for me.
In God, whose Word I praise,
in the LORD, whose Word I praise -
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
(Psalm 56:9b-11)

     ** As I prepare for credentials meetings regarding pastoral ministry with my state's ministerial assembly, these are few things on my mind. What is integrity, especially as it applies to the church and its leaders?  I share these
thoughts gleaned from the writings of John Maxwell devotionally, that they may be helpful to others as well as myself. **

     One's credibility can always be traced to one's level of integrity - one's walk before God. Since integrity is the most important ingredient of leadership, a minister must be a person of integrity. 

     A minister with integrity doesn't have divided loyalties and isn't pretending to have experienced God's call. Ministers with integrity are "whole" persons; they're single-minded in their walk before God. They have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. They judge everything in life by the same system of values. What they say, think and do is in sync.

    Integrity is the acid test of credibility. In credentialing work, that is, the work of checking a minister's credibility, integrity is the most import ingredient.  Integrity builds trust, facilitates high standards, results in a solid reputation, means living it myself first, and is a hard-won achievement.

     To be a pastoral leader, one must have followers. To have followers, one must have their confidence. To have their confidence, one must have integrity. Therefore, the number one quality of pastoral leadership is integrity.

     Every church or ministry is influenced to grow or decline by its leadership. The character of its leaders determines the character of the organization. Everything rises and falls on leadership. And the secret to rising, and not falling, is integrity.

     Pastors and leaders must live by higher standards than their followers. They can give up anything except responsibility for themselves or their organization. When the character of a leader is low, so is his or her standards.

     No minister can lead anyone further than he or she has been his or her self. There are no shortcuts to a life of integrity. When ministers fail to follow this principle, they lower their credibility.

     Clever ministers never last. Effective pastoral ministry is based, not on being clever, but on being consistent. No one can fool all the people all the time. Eventually, each of us is recognized for exactly what we are and not for what we try to appear to be.

     Delight yourself in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit you way to the LORD;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
(Psalm 37:4-6)

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