Proverbs 11:3 provides this wisdom: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” How do you know if you’re upright – a person of integrity – rather than being duplicitous? FCA’s definition of integrity is helpful:
“To have integrity means that you are committed to Christ-like wholeness, both privately and publicly. Basically, it means to live without gaps… You need to be transparent, authentic, honest and trustworthy. You should be the same in all situations and not become someone different when the competition of the game begins… It is not about being perfect, but, as a coach or athlete, you need to be the real deal.” (Integrity, Fellowship of Christian Athletes)
We coach with the highest transformational effectiveness and live with the greatest transformational influence when we are committed to Christ-like wholeness, both privately and publicly. We must be people of integrity. We want to be the real deal.
Here’s the challenge: integrity is not a “once I get it, I’m good to go from this point forward” type of characteristic. As FCA’s book called Integrity puts it: “Integrity takes a lifetime to build and a second to lose. We are always one decision away from being stupid.” So how do we avoid “stupid” and instead live with Christ-like wholeness in all situations?
It’s like any foundational skill in sports: it must be cultivated, practiced, and reinforced day after day after day. The Bible speaks of “integrity of heart” (1 Kings 9:4; Psa. 78:72). We live with integrity when it flows out of our heart, the core of who we are. We cultivate integrity of heart by making daily deposits of the Bible into our life so that God’s Word directs our thoughts, motives, words, and actions.
We also daily ask God for wisdom, power, and grace to practice integrity in every situation we encounter that day. In addition, we need people around us who are also committed to living with integrity and who are for us. We give them permission to hold us accountable to being people of integrity in all areas, including our coaching. If they see a lack of integrity or any indication we might be heading toward “stupid,” they’re honest with us. God uses these friends to reinforce our pursuit of Christ-like wholeness.
Sadly, there are far too many examples of coaches who lack integrity. Coach, by God’s grace you can be different. You will never regret coaching and living with integrity. Instead, you’ll experience the delight of God, who tests our hearts and is pleased with integrity (1 Chron. 29:17).