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5 Ways to Build Integrity

by Carey Nieuwhof on March 20th, 2017 in Men, Women, Couples, Parents, Students

xxxchurch - 5 Ways to Build IntegrityOne thing I find in short supply at times is, unfortunately, integrity. I think that’s part of the reason we value it so much when we find someone who actually displays it.

It’s a breath of fresh air.

However, it’s one thing to know you might lack integrity in certain areas (like your sex life), but something else entirely to learn how to develop it.

Integrity is about more than just doing the right thing. 

It’s about building the kind of character that can survive a crisis intact. In the same way that a building with integrity can survive a storm, a life that has integrity can do the same.

So how do you build integrity?

1. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Of all the lies we tell, the ones we tell ourselves are the most deadly. Question your motives. Stop justifying what you know to be wrong. Stop excusing yourself. For example, if you click a link with a picture of a beautiful woman, ask yourself, “Did I really want to read that article that badly, or was it just an excuse to get an extra helping of eye candy into my diet?”

2. Seek wise counsel. We all have blind spots. It’s one thing to be honest with yourself, but sometimes we are simply blind to faults others can see. Find three or four people who believe in you and ask them for feedback on your life.

3. Decide to honor God, not please people. Doing the right thing is not always easy, and sometimes it’s not the popular thing. Honoring God is not the same as believing you are always right and everyone else is wrong – it simply means you are going to live with a long view of what to do, informed by scripture. It means enduring short-term pain for longer-term gain. To avoid becoming arrogant or deluded, make sure you test what obedience looks like for you, not only against Scripture and prayer but also with your circle of wise counsel (see point #2). They will see things you can’t see.

4. Be appropriately transparent. We’d all like to be something we’re not. Admit your shortcomings. You don’t have to tell everyone what you’re struggling with, but you need to tell someone. Part of being honest with yourself is being honest with and accountable to others. And as much as you might be afraid that everyone will think less of you, living transparently and not pretending to be someone you aren’t actually makes people think more of you. It’s counter-intuitive. It’s also transformative.

5. Put yourself first when it comes to personal growth. I know that sounds selfish, even unbiblical, but I’m not sure it is. Jesus prepared for thirty years before ministering for three. And during those three years, he often disappeared to pray. You can only give from what you’ve received, and he spent whole seasons of his life receiving from God what he needed to give to the world. Cancel some appointments. Get up earlier. You need to build a solid spiritual, emotional and relational foundation for your life. Pray. Open the Bible (for you – not for anyone else, pastors). Go for a run. Eat something healthy. Go for dinner with a friend who gives you life. If your cup is empty, how are you going to fill anyone else’s?

These are five practices I’ve found helpful in my life.

What have you discovered that helps you build integrity?



  • Mophi

    Is there any research drawing a correlation between our culture’s disdain for dating and pornography? I suspect there is a link

  • jamie

    Do the thoughts and images every go away

    • Kayla

      Yes Jamie, they do. I am living, walking, proof that with time, accountability, purity, and honesty, they do.

    • Scott

      Yes Jamie, The images are so relevant in your mind because you have an enemy that wants to keep you in the realm of self-defeating but the Bible says greater is he that is in you and he that is in the world and no weapon formed against you will prosper remember this struggle is a weapon that the enemy uses to keep us from realizing our full potential Paul in the Bible said that I forget about the past and I press on toward what is ahead it is possible to forget about the past it is possible to surrender these things to God and allow him to Erase them from your mind and he’s done it before he did it in my life I used envision myself taking all of the pictures all of the images and laying them down at the foot of the cross and watching them burn. This type of visual aid really helped me to get over my secret failures

      • A

        I would rather you not quote the bible at all if you’re going to misquote it like that.

        • Tim

          I think Scott was in the ballpark with the scriptures he used.

  • Zach

    I’ve always had this hypothesis that maybe if I get a gf, I can use her as a distraction from porn, so that not only will I have something to focus on, but I’ll also experience the bliss of affection/love. Of course, each time I tried using this hypothesis when in an I-like-you-you-like-me relationship, I wound up spoiling the relationship anyway and have even lost a friend completely (though only because we were long distance and kinda behind her parents’ backs) cuz I never actually quit my addiction, but would this idea work?

    • Melissa

      No, you need to quit first before you drag a girlfriend into your life and hurt her or destroy her.

    • Josh

      Along with Melissa, being in a relationship while being addicted to porn will only draw it out more, not remove it.

  • __S.K.

    Great article, Carey. Points 2, 4, & 5 are especially meaningful for me. When I tried to open up to people and they reacted in a hurtful way, it backfired and made me want to be transparent less. I really like your qualifications in points 2 and 4 that it’s important to be transparent to the right people.
    I couldn’t agree more with seeking wise counsel. I would say for me the wisest counsel is from someone who had my same problems and overcame them. Those people have given me the wisest advice because they know my problem from the inside.

  • JWNew

    Jesus said I would receive power. In Greek, a dynamic, divine power. That same word is where we get dynamite from. And here I am making the name of the Holy Spirit empty, vain, every time I seek after these lewd, depraved images. But I feel like I can’t stop. And I’m tired. I’m tired of disappointment. In tired of ripping myself out of His presence to chase after some fleshy desire. I’m tired of fruitless, empty masturbation. I’m tired of hiding what I KNOW He sees. I’m tired of feeling like a liar. I need help.

  • Tom

    I’m a recovering alcoholic and drug user. I have been sober 7 years. I now have embarked on a new addiction porn. I want to stop!

  • Alex Nelson

    god continues to deal with me in his mercy and love.that is causing me to stay away from an easy fix with a click of the mouse. it;s not easy but it worth it, especially His presence and light. O Lord Jesus!

  • TK

    there is no one i could tell about this addiction, its too embarrassing

    • Dan

      TK – I feel your pain. I was there at one point. It takes a long time to come to terms with it. You will find that it is far more prevalent than you think. It took me several months of internalizing it, which only made it worse. I finally told my wife and she was very supportive and has been very helpful in the entire process. I am still struggling but telling people I know and trust has been immensely helpful in the healing. People want to see you succeed. If you can muster the strength, you will find that people will want to cheer for you, not put you down.

  • Dyllan

    Not trying to include myself in other discussions, just starting my own separate post. But, I thought I came to Christ about 2 years ago. I had began dating a nice Christian Girl, started going to church, even reading the bible here and there. I knew in the back of my mind it wasn’t a faithful life tho. I have been addicted to Pornography since I was 10 years old. It came up multiple times throughout our relationship, mostly me doing it behind her back. I finally confessed it to her and she forgave me. However, eventually my addiction reared it’s ugly head again and again, led me to other addictions from my past and ruined my relationship. That Loss sparked me to change my life and I felt like I rededicated my life to Christ. I was overwhelmed with happiness all of a sudden, it was bliss. I lived addiction free for about 2 months and all of a sudden hit a wall, then plunged back into addiction like everything I had previously done was meaningless. I still to this day struggle. I try hard daily and pray and try to focus. Some days it’s really easy, then all of a sudden i’ll get this pit in my stomach and an uncontrollable urge, then I fall back into the addiction so easily…what am I doing wrong?…

    • Dylan, your not alone in this battle. The best advice I can give you is to find someone who you trust and who has your best interest in mind. Tell that person (or people) about your struggle. Keep accountable and honest. Sin doesn’t do as well when it it’s not secret anymore. I’d also recommend going through x3pure and/or joining an x3group. They are both very helpful and eye-opening in breaking through this struggle with porn. I understand where you are coming from, and pray that you would find victory over this.

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