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Do you have a plan to practice integrity in 2019?

For a long time I had a misconception of integrity as something that’s just innate in people. There's people of integrity, and there's people who take more than 12 items to the “express" lane at the grocery store. It was just that simple, I thought. But we both know things don’t quite work that way.

I read recently that the average adult makes around 35,000 conscious decisions daily. There’s a lot to take in with that number. On one hand, let’s pat ourselves on the back because wow we’re productive! On the other, knowing that we make that many decisions daily, it’s just a given that we’re going to make some mistakes.

But they don’t all have to be mistakes. Somewhere buried in that intimidating number are some opportunities to do something beautiful. Opportunities to leave the world better than we found it that day.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. – Psalm 119:1 NLT

How do we find the right calls, though? Well, maybe your experiences are different, but for me the correct decisions are usually the hardest and most uncomfortable ones to make. It’s easy for me to leave the shopping cart by my car when it’s cold and rainy. It’s not really gossip if I’m just joking about a mutual friend. I deserve to get the last word in when I’m arguing.

Some quick math now that we’re almost done with January: we have roughly 12,005,000 decisions left to make. That’s more than enough opportunities to veer off course. That’s thousands of gossiping texts, dozens of shopping carts in the parking lot, and maybe a few more blatant errors in not calling pass interference in professional football games (I’m not bitter, Rams, I promise). That’s where the plan comes in.

Without a plan, we default to the easy decisions. When one of those 35,000 decisions needs a snap judgement, we tend to operate from reflex rather than intentionality. Making the conscious decisions to pause, breathe, and operate from integrity can have an enormous impact in our lives. It can change everything. When we’re intentional about integrity, our loved ones, our co-workers, and everyone we come in contact with gets the best of us. We can joyfully create 35,000 opportunities to worship.

Paraphrasing Aristotle, the author Will Durant referred to excellence as “not an act but a habit.” I believe that integrity follows the same principle-it is a daily habit to be worked on, practiced, and refined. We won’t ever master it, but that’s not the point.

For me personally, having a plan for integrity means making it a daily habit. Quietly committing to challenge the easy in the everyday. To keep my word when I say I’ll do something, even if I’m not really feeling up to it. To honor the loved ones in my life by lifting them up instead of cutting them down.

For us as believers, it’s my hope that we can start seeing our thousands of daily decisions as opportunities to give our best to a world that says the bare minimum will do. To joyfully live with integrity.