Begin with the author of your life.
The only way I know to live a life of truth is to love the God of truth. It is hard to know the truth if you don’t seek it. When we seek the God who loves us, He will convict us and reveal to us when we are not living an honest life. When we read the Word of Truth we will educate ourselves on the many things in life that need answers. We also can surround ourselves with people who are seeking to live a life of honesty and integrity. Finally, we can look to the perfect example of Jesus Christ, living a life of complete honesty and integrity.
Do this by finding a trusted spiritual mentor and friend. Ask for them to help you learn more about Jesus and about the Bible. Join a small group of other believers who are seeking to be honest and truthful in their lives and aren’t afraid to be humble and real about their personal struggles. Pray daily. Spend time asking God questions and look for His answers and spend time quietly listening to what God has to say to you. So much truth has been revealed to me during times of prayer and listening.
Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
When we say what we mean and we mean what we say our lives will reflect this in word and action. I believe this is hardest when nobody’s watching, when tell yourself you won’t eat any more cookies or that you will go to bed at 10:00 pm instead of 1:00 am. I’m talking about the little promises we make to ourselves and others. The big promises boil down to a series of simple yes and no responses to achieve our goals. In fact, if you are in a place where your yes is not yes and your no is not no, completing a LifeMap will be impossible for you.
“If you are in a place where your yes is not yes and your no is not no, completing a LifeMap will be impossible for you.”
Do this by learning first if you error on the side of overpromising or under-promising, then practice with the little things. Start with yourself. Eat two cookies instead of three, go to bed at 12:00 am instead of 1:00 am. If you overpromise, begin saying no to simple requests and work your way up to the larger ones. I had a boss who taught me to have integrity in the smallest of things. If he saw a little piece of trash on the floor he would pick it up and throw it away, he would not ignore it. I found myself walking by the a piece of trash and hearing his voice in my head and then turning around to pick it up.
Surround yourself with people who are honest.
There is much wisdom in surrounding yourself with the people you want to be like and this approach works to for being a person of integrity as well. Find people that live lives above reproach. People who are effective in relationships, who are humble and willing to speak about their faults, fears, and failures, and are willing to call out your faults, fears, and failures.
Do this by evaluating your current relationships and determine where you want them to go. Are your current friendships healthy and full of integrity? Should you continue the relationship or would it be healthier to move on? Be purposeful in your conversations and in your interactions with your current friends and acquaintances, people with wisdom and integrity will quickly be revealed to you.
Learn how to listen to others.
When we listen we learn about others and ourselves, we see the truth much more readily, and can respond more intelligently with integrity and honesty rather than a quick reply that is based on a half thought out response.
Do this by educating yourself. Read books on effective listening, put yourself in front of a talker and just listen. You can watch videos on body language, take a course on emotional intelligence, or find friends that are great listeners. Find places in your normal everyday life where you usually talk, practice being quiet and observing. Just sit there and be silent for two minutes, you will be amazed at what you hear.
Forgive and ask for forgiveness.
When you forgive you set a prisoner free and realize the prisoner is you. Forgiveness is an unbelievable freeing experience. Had I not forgiven my girlfriend in high school I would still struggle with trust. Forgiveness opens a nailed shut door and pries open your heart to care and love for someone again.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
-Lewis B. Smedes
Do this by taking some time, even now, to write out those you have wronged and who have wronged you. Pray over these relationships and situations, find some simple ways you can begin to forgive the people that have wronged you. The beauty of forgiveness is the person who wronged you doesn’t even have to know you have forgiven them for you to be released from the burden you are carrying. When it comes to those who need to forgive you, start with a small situation and work your way to the larger ones.
Tell the truth.
This one seems obvious, but I think it is worthy of the list. When we tell the truth we will be rewarded and the efforts we make in our relationships will grow. When we tell the truth this list becomes possible and much easier. We grow in character when we tell the truth. Finally, when we tell the truth as Mark Twain says, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Do this by changing your habits. Answer quickly and truthfully the questions you would normally skirt around. Put yourself in situations where you will be exposed for not telling the truth, you will be amazed at how quickly this will change your behavior and improve your integrity. Tell your spouse and closest friends you will be working on this and ask them to keep you accountable. Do not accept lies from others, in humility call them out for their deception or misrepresentation.