This story appears in FCA Magazine’s May/June 2018 issue.
In my last column, I outlined how servanthood should be an essential aspect of our lives as Christ-followers, saying, “No other action a person can take leaves as profound an impact on another as serving.”
This issue, we shift from the outward actions of our faith to how our faith impacts us internally. Whether it’s the things you do when no one is watching, or the thoughts and feelings only you know exist in your mind, living a life of integrity is extremely personal, really only known by yourself and God.
The word “integrity” comes from the early 16th-century Latin word “integritas,” which means “intact” or “whole.”
Wholeness in our public and private lives is essential as followers of Christ. If the goal is to resemble Christ more every day, the words we say and our actions in public should reflect our thoughts and our actions in private. That wholeness is what the writer of Proverbs 11:3 (NIV) had in mind, writing, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”
"Wholeness in our public and private lives is essential as followers of Christ."Going back to the dictionary again, I love one definition of integrity I found that said, “The qualification of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.”
Living a life of integrity is a personal choice!
Every decision we make — large or small — must run through our own personal integrity filter, examining how it agrees or disagrees with our thoughts and beliefs.
This was modeled in the purest of ways by Tim Renfrow, my high school football coach. He was a living representation of integrity, the first man I knew whose beliefs and behaviors matched up every day. My life was radically changed when it intersected with Renfrow’s.
In much the same way, PGA Tour pro Brian Davis’ act of integrity impacted many lives at a tournament years ago.
Golf is a great sport to examine an athlete’s integrity. After all, it’s the only sport that allows its participants to call penalties on themselves. Players must be well-versed on the extensive rulebook, which outlines when and how infractions occur and how to assess penalty strokes.
In 2010, at the Verizon Heritage event in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Davis touched a loose reed in a marshy area next to the green on the first playoff hole. He called a two-stroke penalty on himself. That self-imposed infraction effectively gave the tournament title to Jim Furyk, costing Davis millions of dollars and a chance at the victory.
A teacher from Texas saw Davis’ example of integrity and honesty and shared the story in her classroom. She then wrote to Davis. Later in the season, she brought her entire class out to meet him. He may not have won the event, but his example is still being used to impact lives years later.
What does integrity look like in your life? It truly is something that only you have access to and control over. As coach Tony Dungy said, “Others determine your reputation, but only you determine your integrity.”
I pray this encourages you to examine your life for any gaps that exist between your thoughts and actions in private and public. Ask God to fill those spaces with His support to help you to live a whole, complete life in Him.
About the author
A lifetime of FCA's impact and influence on Shane Williamson as an athlete, coach and FCA staff member culminated with him being named the eighth president and CEO of FCA on Jan. 1, 2017.
A native of Loris, S.C., Williamson became a Christ follower while attending an FCA Camp in Black Mountain, N.C., in 1986. Following a calling to coach, Williamson enjoyed a 12-year career at four South Carolina high schools and the college level. Serving as head coach, as well as coaching a variety of sports, allowed him to introduce many of his fellow coaches and teams to FCA Huddles and camps. Williamson joined the ministry as a staff member in 2002 as the Upstate South Carolina Director. He has also been the Multi-Area Director for Metro Atlanta, the Vice President of Field Ministry for the Carolinas and the Executive Director.
Williamson and his wife, Angel, have four children: Maggie, Shayna, Ryann and Brice.