“Everyone in your leadership wake benefits when you do the personal work to shrink your integrity gap.”
Whether one or millions follow you, how you live and lead matters.
You and everyone you influence benefits when you wake up to the importance of shrinking your integrity gap. The converse is also true. Everyone in your leadership wake (especially you) pays when your gap grows, it’s only a matter of time.
We define integrity as a commitment to continuing to shrink the gap between the values you preach and the values you actually practice. Our perspective on the integrity gap comes from nearly two decades of sitting behind the closed doors of counseling and coaching offices. We have been deeply grieved by the broken record being played everywhere we turn, especially its surge within the Christian church. We know we are not alone.
The toxic symptoms of leadership integrity gaps (unresolved trauma, shame, narcissism, isolation, hiding, etc.) can create wiggle room for moral failures to creep into any movement – including the Church. We all long for shepherds who will solve our problems and the larger problems in the world. However, when we ignore our leaders’ personal lives, looking only at what they do for us, sheep remain vulnerable—very vulnerable.
The toxic trend of Christian leaders rising to celebrity status and falling from influence, authority, and credibility must change if the church is to be trusted. The Bible calls God’s church the bride of Christ, and He—and we—still love her, even with all her blemishes. We still believe in the noble pursuit of shrinking our integrity gaps. In every generation since the beginning of time, there has been a remnant who have also said, “Enough is enough; it’s time for a change.” You can be a part of this!
Integrity is not just a word; it’s a way of being. We invite you to imagine leadership where you are actually seen, known, even loved, and then, from that place of authenticity, be able to offer the same to those you influence. Wholehearted leaders honor Christ not just with words, minds, hearts or bodies, but with all of who we are in private and public. As our gaps shrink, we grow closer to experiencing our God-given potential, both personally and corporately, and everyone benefits. We spend less time and energy healing and more energy living the lives God intended for us.
In fact, when we have done our own work, it becomes easier to enter into the hardships of others with the utmost humility and grace. In this way, we become part of the answer to the prayer Jesus taught us to pray to our Father in heaven: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). This is a desire He wants us to have; He partners with us to make it reality
As the world experiences more Christian leaders living and leading authentically with greater humility and integrity (not perfection), we believe more people outside the faith will “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8). Thy will believe and choose to follow Him because they saw Him, heard Him, and felt Him in a leader who was like Him (a good shepherd).
We have a few friends who do not identify as Christians but who have more integrity than most Christians we know. Brothers and sisters, this should not be! Will you be the one to set the example for other believers (and those yet to believe) in your sphere of influence in speech, life, love, faith, and purity, as the apostle Paul challenged his protégé Timothy (see 1 Tim. 4:12)?
Choose to invite those in your wake to join you on your mission and all will flourish! The physical, emotional, and spiritual energy you used to waste on negative pursuits (maintaining image, achieving, receiving earthly rewards, wearing masks, hiding, defending, and self-promoting) can instead be designated for real kingdom callings. All can be devoted to serving, loving, repairing, empowering, and pointing others to the only Leader deserving of our worship, our submission, and our devotion—the One to whom all glory, power, and honor is to be given. The One at whose name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord: Jesus (see Phil. 2:10–11).
May this truth inspire us: if we have a following, how we live and lead matters!
Excerpted from Shrinking the Integrity Gap by Jeff & Terra Mattson, © 2020 Living Wholehearted, LLC. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.
Jeff Mattson and Terra Mattson are founders of Living Wholehearted, where they coach leaders and counsel individuals. Their latest book is Shrinking the Integrity Gap: Between What Leaders Preach and Live.