The Primacy of Integrity
Warren Buffett, the US investor with a net worth of $110bn USD, is a smart cookie.
His firm, Berkshire Hathaway, is a holding company that allows him to build up (often significant) holdings in major global corporations. His top ten holdings at present are in Apple, Bank of America, AMEX, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Verizon, Moody’s, US Bancorp, Chevron, and GM. Buffett knows a lot about trust, since the markets he invests in are buoyed and swayed largely by investor confidence and trust.
Buffett once said that “trust is like the air we breathe – when it’s present, nobody really notices; when it’s absent, everyone notices”.
What though, is the link between integrity and trust?
In our recent conversations with Cross-Current participants, we’ve learned interesting insights into the nature of the relationship between trust and integrity. In particular, we’ve seen that integrity is a “cross-over virtue” that is desirable both in private life (in the home, in friendship, in family, in marriage) and also in professional life (at work, in the office, for teamwork, and for business confidence). Yet despite being a desirable virtue, integrity is also, more often than not, an aspirational virtue – something we aspire to, or even dream of, rather than living out in the day-to-day grind of working life.
Integrity is like a magic box. Everybody wants it but no-one knows what is inside.
Rev John Stott, the well-known British preacher and pastor, once said that “you cannot blame meat for going rotten, that is just what meat does, but you can blame the salt for not being there”. What did he mean by this?
In society, we see the critical role that integrity plays. When we integrate our faith and work, we can live with integrity and with integrated lives – for the benefit of our colleagues, as well as our own. When dis-integration occurs, though, we lose not only the prophetic biblically-informed voice that our societies need but also the antidote to corrosive corruption in all sectors of society.
In 2018, the World Bank issued a statement that “corruption erodes trust in government and undermines the social contract. This is cause for concern across the globe, but particularly in contexts of fragility and violence, as corruption fuels and perpetuates the inequalities and discontent that lead to fragility, violent extremism, and conflict”.
Integrity is the virtue that can withstand such erosion. Integrity undergirds the line in the sand, where a no is a firm no. Integrity brings malpractice into the light, to help foster transparency and accountability. Integrity also reconciles our private convictions with our public declarations. The presence of a vibrant, intelligent Christian voice in the workplace and across society, is a hugely significant opportunity for incarnational influence.
Closer to home, Professor Prabhu Guptara assured the Lausanne Congress, in Cape Town, that “the reason that corruption persists is because there are insufficient people of integrity prepared to stand against it”.
Let us consider this stand together and talk honestly about integrity and trust.
Young Christian professionals often find it difficult to live with integrity in every circumstance. On Thursday, 3rd of June, from 7.30 PM CET, we will share as a team what 3 years of research and more than 10 years of ministry have told us about their struggles, their potential and how they can flourish.
Join our online event on Thursday 3rd June 2021 (19h30 CET) on YouTube to find out more.
Cover photo: Brett Jordan on Unsplash.com