A person with integrity is seen as moral upright, whole, and undivided in ability. Integrity in one sense deals with truth telling. It is then displayed by people when they attempt to be consistent and cohesive in thinking and behavior. Service is also proposed as an integral component to a leader’s integrity. The consistency and dependability of a leader’s personality over time and through various situations adds to the notion of integrity. Others gauge integrity through three elements: ambition, competence, and moral compass. Stated in Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.” This passage speaks to the fixed principles that a person has that will provide direction that is understandable and already known to the individual. However, the lack of an integrity results in destruction.
Nehemiah chapter six begins with the personal integrity of Nehemiah being tempted. Then the people of Israel have their integrity attacked. Finally, it shows the results of being diligent and keeping their integrity.
Up to this point, Nehemiah demonstrated many admirable qualities. He has also shown his integrity previously. However, one thing we note from this part of the story is that the enemy of our soul will never give up and will continue to fight till the very end. The wall was finished, but the doors had not been set up to complete the gates (6:1). Nehemiah’s enemies would attempt to derail his attention by setting up a meeting and eventually try to hurt him. Nehemiah responded that he must not leave the great work that was before him. They tried this four more times and four more times Nehemiah told them no.
What are the pieces that came together in keeping Nehemiah’s integrity? First, he could tell the difference between that which was a great work and what was going to bring “mischief” on him (vs. 2-3, also 10-14). Psalm 119:66 says, “Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.” Having a good head on your shoulders to think through the consequences of your actions is a great help to keeping your integrity. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and open to its leading is also great at keeping you aware of what is right for you and what is bad.
Another key aspect of integrity is the desire and ability to continue working diligently on something. Even for myself, this is a delicate area. It is easy to be distracted and having a short attention span is a challenge. Yet, it is possible to keep on task and develop the ability to keep focused. Added is that God’s presence in our life can strengthen our resolve as faithfulness to His Word and will is a key focus of Scripture.
- Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
- James 1:12, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
- Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”.
Since the enemies of Nehemiah could not destroy his integrity, they would attack the integrity of Israel. Slander and false information were their tactics (vs. 6:5-8), and it did seem to affect everyone (vs. 9). In our present reality, we know that we cannot control what people say about us, whether true or false. What we can do is control our reaction.
For our organizations, especially Christian organizations, we know that God’s name will continually be put down by those in the world. Still, churches and Christian groups can keep their integrity by remaining faithful to God and the vision He has given us. When Nehemiah and the people became of afraid of what the outsiders were saying, they came to God and pleaded, “Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” (6:9). One of the most important tasks a leader has in an organization is to keep it focused on reaching its vision. Alignment to the vision is a reliable indicator of an organization’s integrity. How can the Christian leader accomplish this? By their own faithfulness to God.
Finishing the Goal
Even though the book of Nehemiah is not finished, we find that the walls and gates are completed in this chapter. It took 52 days for Nehemiah and the people to complete their rebuilding project. We would expect this at the end of the book since this seems to be the big change they were working for. However, we learn two important things from this.
First, we learn that we will eventually see the fruit of our labor. At least in part. Usually, a good vision outlives a person and other need to carry it on. However, the Lord can bless us with seeing some of the good that will come from our work. Nehemiah was able to see the walls finished and that must have been very rewarding personally and at the same time encouraging to all the people’s faith.
The second learning outcome for us is that for a change to take root and continue flourishing is that there need to be some reinforcing structures set in place. Once we see change, we may be satisfied and stop our efforts. However, this will only lead to a return to previous ways or toward a different path with its own negative results. We will read more from Nehemiah about how they reinforced the positive changes that were made. At this point, we rest in knowing that the work is never truly finished. It just takes on new directions.