Step # 1- Identify the problem. Step # 2 – Make the necessary decision. Step # 3 – Take action.
This looks like a management process, and it is. Decisions can be tough. Some resulting actions are even tougher because most actions involve both loss and gain. Example: I decide to put 10% of all my net earnings into savings/investment. Initial loss? The ability to spend the dollars put into savings. The long term gain – freedom to do something I believe to be important at a future time.
Here is a tough one! Problem: I am an alcoholic! Decision: I must stop drinking! Action: I will never take another drink of alcohol again! The impact of this decision/action is huge! Significant Loss! Significant Gain! Involved here are breaking the habit, emotional dependency, physical dependency, social involvement – loss. The gains? We know. Because of the difficulty of this decision, Alcoholics Anonymous exits.
Here are other very difficult problems – decisions – actions. I will end my relationship with a specific person. I will eat food that is good for me. I will get aerobic exercise of 20 minutes or more 3 times per week. I will not be involved in pornography in any way. I will spend serious time with the Lord each week in Bible study, reflection and prayer. I will not gossip, covet, lust, or steal. I will love my neighbor as myself (even when I drive). The list goes on and on. Integrity requires right action.
To do what is right EVERY TIME is a huge challenge. We all fail at this challenge, but this does not change the necessity of working to do what is right every time. God gave brains to Christians and non-Christians. Mentally we can think through to what should be done. Christians and non-Christians can seek wise counsel. As Christians we have two ways for receiving additional guidance. The Bible provides teachings which are designed to guide us as to what is right, as to what is best for God’s children (II Timothy 3:16…All Scripture is…) The second way is through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, spoken of many times in the Bible. Here are two examples: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
What triggered this review of “problem, decision, and action”? In Bakerville, even when attendance was small, there was an “Official Board” of the church. This group was made up of the Chairman of the different committees and boards plus a specific number of “members at large” – active church members who were not presently Chairman of a committee.
As church attendance and vitality began to pick up, the Official Board agreed that only people who were actively involved in the life of the church should be on the Official Board. This was a very tough decision, but everyone agreed. This became a very difficult realty when we went through the list of Official Board members – and came to the name of the wife of the family that had given the largest amount of money for the rebuilding of the church. The couple continued to give regularly but they very rarely attended. We knew that “God does not show favoritism” Acts 10:34. Everyone agreed that the wife should be told of the Official Board decision. Then a degree of panic filled the room. I myself was feeling very uneasy about the situation. What if they stopped giving? Regardless of the consequences, we knew our credibility, our integrity required that the policy be carried out consistently. I agreed to go talk with the wife.
I remember driving up to their beautiful restored New England home. We sat in the living room, husband and wife together on the coach. I sat across from them…only a few feet away. When I told the reason for my visit…the wife became visibly upset. Then her husband put his hand on her knee and said “Dear, you know he is right”. The result? The husband and I developed a very high level of trust. Risk? Absolutely! Huge risk! But we did what was right, and in this case, the reward in relationship building was very significant.
To maintain personal integrity, when we believe we have made the right decision, we must act! How else can we maintain our Partnership with God?