Building Character

Integrity Revealed

God knows our thoughts, who we really are, and wants us to be the same whether or not someone else is watching

No matter how good we talk about ourselves, our behaviors and attitudes reveal what’s really in our hearts. The truth is that the good and bad things we do and say start with our thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).  

Who we really are is revealed when no one is watching.

What we value becomes obvious when we face hard choices. God knows our thoughts, who we really are, and wants us to be the same whether or not someone else is watching. This is called having integrity. Integrity is important in relationships because it builds trust and creates closeness. A parent with integrity is a blessing to their child (Proverbs 20:7).

If we are not truthful about what we really think and feel, if we pretend to be better than we are, we are hypocrites

Hypocrites hide who they are and what they value most. 

They pretend to be good, lying in order to get other people will like them. They are overly proud and not worthy of trust.

Research indicates that children start out believing all lies and bad, but learn over time that some lies are OK. And they learn to lie for the same reasons adults do. They do it to get out of trouble, to impress or protect someone, or to be polite. As parents, it’s tempting to lie to get children to do what they should, but this destroys trust.

It is a hollow victory and a decisive betrayal.


Jesus, known for revealing truth, shared this parable about integrity in Luke 10:30-35.*

A man was going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Some robbers surrounded him, tore off his clothes, and beat him. Then they left him lying there on the ground almost dead.

It happened that a priest was going down that road. When he saw the man, he did not stop to help him. He walked away. Next, a holy man came near. He saw the hurt man, but he went around him. He would not stop to help him either. He just walked away.

Then a Samaritan man traveled down that road. (Samaritans were hated and considered criminals). He came to the place where the hurt man was lying. He saw the man and felt very sorry for him. The Samaritan went to the hurt man and poured olive oil and wine on his wounds (to help him). Then he covered the man’s wounds with cloth. He put the  man on his donkey, and he took him to a hotel. There he cared for him. The next day, the man took out two silver coins and gave them to the hotel manager. He said, “Take care of this man. If you spend more money on him, I will pay it back to you when I come by again.”

The holy men were hypocrites. They pretended to be holy, but their actions showed that their hearts were not holy. These men who claimed to know God, did not love others or care about their suffering.

God is loveIf you know God, you know love, and you care for others (I John 4:21)

When you have integrity, your actions match your words, even when you don’t feel like doing it.

This doesn’t mean we need to be perfect, but humble and honest, especially about our failures (I John 1:8), “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’, ‘no.”(Matthew 5:37). The ugly truth is better than a pretty lie.  

Living in such honesty requires great courage. Courage to be truthful, to reveal our weakness and failure, and to stand up for what’s right in the face of pressure to do otherwise.

Children need encouragement to be bold and defiant in the face of evil.

They need courage to be honest about their failures.

Telling children stories of when someone told bravely told the truth has been proven to be more effective for encouraging kids to be honest than cautionary tales about the dangers of lying.

We can share these stories and help them to be honest by giving them confidence that we will be understanding with them in their weakness.

We can give them courage, by offering them grace, help, and prayer in their time of need,
just as Jesus has done for us 
(Hebrews 4:15-16, Ephesians 3:12, James 5:16).

And of course, we can be an example of courageous integrity in the way we live.

Practicing the way of Jesus

How might a response to a child who is having a meltdown encourage or discourage them towards authenticity and integrity?

– Excerpted from my book, Parenting in Christ: Lessons from the Parables 
*Scripture from the Easy to Read Version with explanation in the parentheses by the author.

You also might find my 5 Tips for Dealing with a Lying Teenager blog post helpful on our non-profit ministry blog at Finally Family Homes.

Christina Dronen

Christian mom who practices gentle parenting. Author of the Parenting In Christ Bible study discussion guides.

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  1. Stephen De La Vega says:

    Hi Christina. Just a thought in response to your question at the end. I think there are several ways we can respond to a child in meltdown without allowing our anger or frustration to take over. E.g., a gentle calmness is great, and when we do it consistently, we develop a sense of integrity in the heart of the child. I think this kind of integrity can be very comforting and the child begins to know what to expect and understands there is someone who cares about them as a person with real needs and not about their outrage or shut down. Integrity goes a long way, but it takes time to build it. Great post.

  2. Chip Mattis says:

    I love the topic of integrity. It is a great lesson for kids to learn early. What does our behavior say about what we believe? Do our words match our actions?
    I remember my grandma telling me to do as she said not as she did. But that only went so far with me. I learned that I should do what was expedient. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I learned what the Lord expected of me in the way of integrity. Good thoughts, Christina.

  3. Julie says:

    I think we can tell our kids that it is ok to feel emotions, God gave them to us. The problem is feeling the emotion and acting out on it. Jesus is the example for us. He experienced emotions while on earth but didn’t let the emotions control Him.

  4. Yvonne Morgan says:

    I enjoyed your post Christina. Integrity and authenticity are vital for our lives to reflect the light of our Savior. It is also important that we teach our children the importance of these traits in their lives also. Thanks

  5. Melissa Henderson says:

    We must always be aware that we are being watched, by children and adults. Our words and actions can show our love for God. Show His love always. 🙂

  6. Nancy E. Head says:

    “When you have integrity, your actions match your words, even when you don’t feel like doing it.”
    Love that message.

  7. Claudio says:

    Integrity is so important, if not one of the most important characteristics in building trust in all relationships whether they be family, work, church, friends, community. Your post is a great reminder for all.

  8. Jessica Brodie says:

    Great post. The line that really resonated with me was this: “When you have integrity, your actions match your words, even when you don’t feel like doing it.” I’d like to put this on a T-shirt! 🙂

  9. Anne Mackie Morelli says:

    Love the comment, “Who we really are is revealed when no one is watching.” This is a challenge for all of us to consider – are we consistent across our circumstances? Are we so fully integrated that we can remain and behave in a similar way when we are alone as we do when we are in public and there is a chance we are being watched? I often think of how we notice something – even something simple – and we ignore it or change how we behave because we think things like we don’t have time to stop and deal with it, or it is none of our business, or its not our problem, or we might offend others, or worry about what they will think…. We think these things don’t really matter in the big scheme of things. And yet, we must remember God is always watching us and alway desires that we follow his example and his expectations about how we should act. He calls us to be faithful in the little things as well as the big things. I also agree children watch us and learn from both what we say and what we do. And as a counsellor and educator – I can affirm children are very sensitive to and aware of whether the adults around them have integrity and their words and action match. As they observe adults they do notice the degree of integrity ,and in turn that influences the degree to which they decide to trust, listen and learn from that adult.

  10. Brianna Martin says:

    Christina, I love this! Integrity is so essential and our kids are the first to know when we’re being hypocritical. It affects them so deeply! Thanks for posting.

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