For the purposes of this blog I would just like to consider one of the survey’s findings. In the words of the survey report:
“More than half of Christians in this country identify themselves as leaders (58%). Yet, less than one-sixth (15%) say their primary leadership trait is integrity, the quality Christians were most likely to name as an important leadership trait.”
This finding is unsettling to say the least. The survey report does not list in exactly what ways the respondents identified themselves as leaders – whether at work, in church, other activities or in their homes, yet the outcome is the same – that the majority of Christians who felt they were in leadership roles did not think integrity was a primary trait for them. Either most Christians have an overly developed sense of humility when considering their own integrity, or integrity just isn’t their primary trait. The survey indicated the latter.
Now the honesty here is a good thing, so I’m not faulting that. Notice David’s words when he realized he had failed his leadership position in a matter of integrity: “… I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong…” (2 Samuel 24:17); but this was an instance of failed integrity, not an accepted lack of integrity as a leadership trait.
Interestingly, the Barna survey agrees with similar population-at-large studies done in the business and political arenas. Integrity is often not an issue that those who are in leadership positions would claim as being of primary importance. If we watch the news, we probably know that. It is doubtless a symptom of the society and the age in which we live, yet it is one which we certainly should not find acceptable.
I can’t help thinking about the parallel with David in this situation. Although he readily admitted those occasions when his own integrity did fail, it is clear that as a leadership lifestyle he was committed to integrity: “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalms 78:72). Today, all too often we only expect skill in leadership – the “skillful hands” David mentions - as the requirement for leading. But David’s example makes it clear that integrity is just as important – in fact, of course, he listed that trait first.