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THE LEADER’S INTEGRITY
Trimester 3 by Dr. Jack Hayford – SESSION 1: Integrity of Heart
There are different qualities that constitute a good leader. Some of us possess some of those traits and abilities such as:
1.Special creative skills
None of us possesses all of those gifts. But almost always, when people look at great abilities for leaders, they look for things that can be seen. I want to talk about the things that cannot be seen, and no degree of skills or dynamics can substitute for these things.
I am regularly asked by leaders, “What is the secret to success in leadership ministry?”
The supposition is that the hours totaled in Scripture and prayer may be the key. Of course, these are important, but I am persuaded that nothing exceeds the importance of cultivating
a heart of integrity. A heart of integrity has to do with the heart from which prayers are spoken and the Word of God is preached.
- The most important thing for any leader is the matter of integrity of heart.
The text introduces us to an idea that recurs several times in the Old Testament.
I.THE FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE (GENESIS 20:1-6)
A.Some scholars have called this principle: The Law of First Usage.
1.The first time an idea appears in the Bible, it unveils the way that idea applies throughout the whole of the Word.
2.Here we come to integrity of heart as it is first mentioned in the Bible.
3.This story (Genesis 20:1-6) introduces these ideas:
a.Honesty from the tongue
b.Truthfulness in the mind
c.Honesty with yourself
d.A heart that will not violate trust
4.All of these undergird a leader that can be trusted.
•Integrity of heart is the phrase that wraps all of them in one package.
5.It is interesting that in this story we are taught integrity in a setting where a man of faith has violated honesty.
a.But a pagan King responded with integrity.
b.The lesson here is clear.
c.I may not be a person of great revelation or insight, but I can still be a person of integrity if I respond to the things God does show me.
6.God shows us things in various ways.
a.In His Word
c.By His Spirit dealing privately within us
d.He convicts us.
e.He corrects us.
B.God’s confrontation with Abimelech and his response (Genesis 20:3-5)
1.The first time in the Bible integrity is mentioned as pertains to the heart, God is coming to speak to a man on the basis of what he doesn’t understand.
2.Integrity of heart has to do with two things.
a.There are always things I don’t know or understand. God will help me in the face of those things I don’t know or understand.
b.There are things I do understand. If I violate those things, God won’t come and correct me for those things.
•This is a frightening truth.
C.The Lord’s reply and the principle this reveals (Genesis 20:6)
1.God patiently understands when our ignorance produces innocent failure for lack of wisdom.
2.God said, “The reason I’m here to stop you is because I know you are acting without knowledge or without compromise of your own understanding.”
D.Issue: The inverse/opposite of this is contained within this concept.
1.God holds us responsible to walk in the light of the understanding/revelation we have.
a.Leader who was pursuing error
b.Another who was pursing financial irresponsibility
c.Another who was pursing an immoral relationship
d.Each one expressed something of a sense of divine tolerance or exception to his case. Why?
3.Answer: When integrity has been violated from the outset, God will not intervene until judgment eventually accrues. God only warns, instructs, or corrects where His intervention is allowed by reason of the honest quest of the individual to walk in His way.
4.The key is to respond immediately whenever the Lord deals with you and you have not recognized what you were doing.
5.This story makes it dramatically clear that there is possibly no more essential trait or value to be sought and maintained in a leader’s life than integrity of heart.
II.A DYNAMIC WORD (PSALM 25:20-21)
A.A word study on integrity unfolds ideas which can help us recognize how integrity is to be maintained.
B.Old Testament “thom”: idea of wholeness or completeness
1.Illustration: In mathematics we speak of whole numbers as contrasted with fractions.
2.Integrity of heart describes that attitude of heart that disallows the slicing away of full honesty with God or with oneself through supposedly minor deviations.
a.This is done through rationalizing: providing an excuse to myself for compromise.
b.This is also done through self-justification: arguing that my case is an exception and that “God doesn’t take seriously (He accepts) my compromise.”
1.Engaged in a conversation: a violation of full honesty
2.Inner correction of the Holy Spirit: “grieve not” (Ephesians 4:30)
a.Full range of verbal purity, attitudinal constancy, refusal to flavor the truth, refusal of sexual indulgences of any kind, refusal to give place to anger or unforgiveness
b.Neither give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27)
III.DYNAMIC OBEDIENCE TO PRINCIPLE
A.David, a man after God’s heart (of integrity)
1.David’s words: “Teach me Your way, O Lord. I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your Name” (Psalm 86:11).
a.I will to be teachable.
b.I will commit to walk in what You show.
c.Result: “Thus, Lord, You can keep my heart in one piece.”
3.“Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed (embarrassed) for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait on You (listen for your voice)” (Psalm 25:20-21).
B.Under David’s leadership, the boundaries of Israel were extended to their widest limits.
1.Incapable to patrol its boundaries, the question arises, “How can I preserve my kingdom?”
2.He makes the above prayer (Psalm 25:20-21): “You, Lord must preserve me.”
IV.TRAGEDY FOLLOWING DISOBEDIENCE TO PRINCIPLE
A.Remember Solomon’s original prayer.
1.“Therefore, Lord God of Israel, now keep what You promised Your servant David my father” (1 Kings 8:25).
2.God’s response (1 Kings 9:3-5): “I have heard your prayer . . . I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. Now, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness . . . then I will establish your throne . . . .”
B.There was a stark contrast between Solomon’s and David’s pathway to solving the problem of defending boundaries.
1.Solomon’s choice was diplomatic solutions: alliances.
2.With each treaty came a new princess to seal the political bond.
•Jerusalem became filled with the idols brought by these treaties that were designed to assure personal and professional security.
3.Concept: All of us are house builders.
•We are building families, congregations, ministries.
4.The key to a home, a church, or a ministry that lasts (that God will perpetuate) is wrapped up in our will to perpetually sustain a heart of integrity.
V.THE PATHWAY TO OBEDIENCE
A.The plural form of integrity (thom): Thummim
•God has given a picture of our maintaining a heart of integrity.
B.The high priest’s breastplate: Urim and Thummim.
1.No one knows exactly what that was made of, but we know how and when the Urim and Thummim was consulted.
2.Exodus 28:30a: “And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment (decision-making unto a divinely guided verdict), the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart.”
3.Example: Quest for a pure priesthood: “Wait until a high priest stands up with the Urim and the Thummim” (Nehemiah 7:65; Ezra 2:63).
C.How it was done
1.Rabbinical literature suggests an answer.
2.They would go up before the veil and say, “God, show us what Israel shall do.”
Whatever the case, a clear picture is given us of the importance of a leader’s maintenance of a heart of integrity.
If we will let that Thummim of the heart abide faithfully, we will walk in obedience. Kingdom boundaries can be extended, ministries become effective, boundaries are preserved with blessings, and ministries stand strong through the integrity of the heart.
1.Discuss various qualities that we look for in determining a good leader in the ministry.
2.How do these good qualities relate to integrity of heart?
3.How can we respond with integrity when we are confronted with the following two instances?
a.Facing things we don’t know or understand
b.Violating those things we do know and understand
4.Pray for one another, as well as the Christian leaders in your country, that the Holy Spirit would guard your hearts with integrity.
1.What lessons can you learn from the first occurrence of the phrase “integrity of heart” in the Bible?
2.What ideas does the phrase “integrity of heart” convey?
3.How does God reveal His will to us?
4.What does God expect from you as He reveals His will to you?
a.Explain how this is illustrated in David’s life (Psalm 25:20-21)
b.Explain how this is illustrated in the high priest’s breastplate
(Exodus 28:30; Nehemiah 7:65; Ezekiel 2:63)
THE LEADER’S INTEGRITY
SESSION 2: A Forgiving Spirit
In our first session, we learned about the integrity of heart. We learned about the way the heart may be reduced in its wholeness towards God, how the heart may be deceived just a little bit at a time, until a great tragedy occurs. Preserving the integrity of heart is to resist the invasion of heart: an invasion which takes a little bit at a time, as an invading force takes away land from a nation.
We want to study now about another heart issue of integrity. Now it is not the heart being invaded, but rather the heart being infected. This has to do with a leader and the spirit of forgiveness.
The primary idea of forgiveness is release or to let go. When we were forgiven by the Lord, we were let go from the power of sin and we were released from our bondage to eternal death. So we understand how forgiveness relates to release.
But the Bible teaches about the spirit of forgiveness: to experience a life that lives in the spirit of release. The spirit of release is when our hearts and hands are open in a liberated attitude toward God and others, so that our hands do not become full of issues of anger or bitterness (like a person carrying luggage he doesn’t need for the trip he is taking).
Release in freedom of ministry depends on the spirit of release that dominates the heart of the leader.
I.EXPOSITION OF THE TEXT (MATTHEW 18:21-35)
A.An honest inquiry
1.Peter’s question reveals a position: He believed had already grown beyond the teaching of his day.
2.On the basis of such passages as: Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 18 (into Amos 2), the rabbis of Jesus’ time presumed that God Himself did not forgive more than three times.
3.But the Lord said to Peter gently, “No, Peter, but seventy times seven.”
4.What Jesus was saying was not 490 times, but rather indefinite forgiveness.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
B.A new dimension (Matthew 18:22-23a)
1.Jesus not only expands this limited view, but He attaches to this teaching the importance of the Kingdom principle.
2.When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom, two things are true:
a.He is speaking of something that God has called us into in the environment of redemption.
b.There is a command in the Kingdom.
•Matthew 18:34-35 shows a lesson so clear, as well as its frightening consequences if it is not responded to.
3.What does it mean to be delivered to the torturers?
a.The unforgiving servant was not returned to his original situation.
(Matthew 18:25, 34)
b.There was the nagging of bill collectors, regularly, to collect payments from him (Matthew 18:34).
1.It is possible to be forgiven of everything and know what salvation means.
2.If we forget how great forgiveness was given to us and do not live in the same spirit of complete release and forgiveness toward others, there will be pains that torture our souls regularly because of unforgiveness.
3.The spirit of unforgiveness will take away joy, spiritual power, and physical health.
4.Medical studies proof that 70% of human diseases are the result of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness inside the human being.
D.The unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:24-34)
1.An incredible debt (Matthew 18:25)
a.Note the destruction that was about to take place to this man’s life, family and future (Matthew 18:25).
•His debt, which forecast his imminent ruin, depicts the total lostness of our situation outside God’s grace and forgiveness in Christ.
b.Note the servant’s plea, which proposes an impossible proposition.
i.The multimillion-dollar debt could never be repaid, given any amount of time.
ii.He could not even have kept pace with interest payments, much less pay off the principle.
c.Note the overwhelming compassion of the man’s master (Matthew 18:27).
i.His character is completely contrary to the practice of the society then or now.
ii.This is not a usual response to debt: Jesus is depicting the Father’s heart toward our burden and debt of sin and guilt.
2.An incredible response (Matthew 18:28-29)
a.In an unbelievably insensitive way, the servant forgiven so great a debt goes to a fellow-servant, demanding payment for an obligation which existed between them.
i.This debt has nothing to do with the relationship between the master and the two servants.
ii.The debt is entirely between the two servants.
(This is important to the lesson.)
b.The two debts can in no way be compared (Matthew 18:28).
i.The original debt was an unpayable amount, even given a lifetime.
ii.The second debt was only the equivalent of about 3-4 months labor.
c.Note the “forgiven” servant’s approach: He immediately takes his
fellow-servant by the neck, driving him to his knees.
•He is not only unremembering of the forgiveness shown him, he is
cruel-hearted in his approach to another servant (Matthew 18:28).
d.Note the words spoken by the second servant: They are exactly the same words spoken by the first servant when he faced his master.
•Amazingly, the first servant does not even hear the echo of his own appeal coming from the lips of his fellow-servant (Matthew 18:29).
e.Remember: The second request of “I will pay” was a reasonable one.
i.This is the drastic difference in the two situations.
ii.The unforgiveness shown was in a setting that was infinitely less indebted, and therefore, appropriately more likely to find patience (Matthew 18:30).
II.HOW DOES UNFORGIVENESS ENTER THE HEART OF A LEADER?
A.The Spirit of control
•To be resentful is to keep people in the prison of our anger.
a.“My opinion is that person is wrong.”
b.These attitudes tragically fill the body of Christ.
i.They cripple the effectiveness of the living Church.
ii.They sap the spiritual strength of leaders.
iii.They build walls of separation between parts of the body of Christ.
B.The tensions of unforgiveness in the body of Jesus Christ
C.The attitude of the Lord
•He said: “I have forgiven you everything. I have been understanding and gentle toward you. Your idiosyncrasies I understand. I am patient with your imperfection of understanding. The things that you were ignorant about, but which had wounded others, I have forgiven you. I have released you completely. I call you to be equally releasing, to be patient toward people who hurt you and bring pains to you . . . .”
III.THE TIMELESS APPLICATION
A.The great truth
1.“I will not allow you to function in My Kingdom any other way.”
2.“Father will become angry if you do otherwise.”
3.“You will inflict penalties upon yourself if you live that way.”
1.“I am not going to return you to your former lost estate.”
2.“You are going to experience what it means to pay the toll of the nagging of the spirit of unforgiveness.”
a.It cripples ministries.
b.It binds up a leader.
c.It binds up the people as well.
C.Ask yourself, “How do I relate to other ministers?”
This is what forgiveness is all about: release of relationships, release of salvation, release of what our life is all about, and the release of the body of Christ, as we forgive as we have been forgiven.
1.What is the primary idea of forgiveness and what does it require that we do, according to this lesson? How does this relate to the principle of the Kingdom of God?
2.Discuss the devastating effects of the spirit of unforgiveness in the body of Christ.
3.What are the timeless lessons all of us should learn from the parable of the unforgiving servant?
4.Is there anyone in your life that you have resentment or a judgmental spirit against? If so, join hands with one or two believers and pray for the spirit of forgiveness to flow in your heart, then release the person/persons completely from your resentment.
1.Study Matthew 18:21-35 and answer the following questions:
a.How many times does Peter feel he can forgive his offending brother each day?
b.How many times does the Lord teach? What does this imply?
c.How did the master of the unforgiving servant forgive him?
d.How did this servant treat his fellow servant?
2.List the practical lessons you are taught through this parable.
3.Is there anyone in your life with whom you have a broken relationship? Apply the principles of this lesson and find time to express your release and forgiveness to him or her.