#039 – Integriosity – Renew – Biblical Principles – Keep First Things First

Integriosity® is about aligning the mission, values and culture of an organization with Biblical principles.  A key element of the RENEW step of Integriosity is re-ordering disordered priorities.  In looking at Biblical principles for work and business, we believe it is important to go back to first principles by asking what the Bible tells us are the keys to everything else.  And then we have to Keep First Things First by pursuing those first principles and not the “everything else”! The four key principles are captured by the word Integriosity.

The key Biblical principles that form the foundation of Integriosity are embedded in the word itself–Integrity (and its components Righteousness and Kingdom) and Generosity (and its components Love and Humility).  They are the priorities we need to “keep first”.  We believe the Bible sets these up as foundational priorities.

  • But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.  (Matthew 6:33)
  • Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)
  • The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4)

 The two “Integrity Priorities” are God-focused and the two “Generosity Priorities” are people-focused.

  • Seeking the righteousness of God (this is “do right“)
  • Seeking the Kingdom of God
  • Loving our neighbor
  • Exhibiting humility in our dealings with others

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2 ESV)

In these Scriptural passages, we see the “first things” and also the “second things” to which they lead.  If the “first things” are Righteousness, Kingdom, Love and Humility, the “second things” are “all these things”, “life”, “prosperity”, “honor”and “riches”.  Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  At Integrous, we believe “first things” are “above” and “second things” are “on earth”.

The hard part is Keeping First Things First and pursuing them simply because they are “first things” and not in order to get the “second things”.  Having an agenda of “second things” can leave us with nothing, just like pursuing James Hunter’s “faithful presence” in order to change the world will likely fail at changing the world.  The problem is that an agenda of the “second things” makes them your “first things”–and that is a disordered priority.

SPOILER ALERT:  In future posts, we will explain how the five key “mind-shifts” necessary in the pursuit of Integriosity are examples of Keeping First Things First and re-ordering disordered priorities.

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM):  I learned the importance of Keeping First Things First and the consequences of disordered priorities in 2004 when my marriage had been in a slow death-spiral and was disintegrating (God miraculously restored our relationship in November 2004, but that is a much longer story that you can read about in the book Miracles by Eric Metaxas.  For those interested, here is a link to a PDF of the chapter called “God and Marriage”.).  If you had asked me in 2003 what my priorities were in life, I would have told you:

  • Work (because I grew up believing that if you were a good provider, then you were, by definition a good husband and father).
  • Children (wouldn’t my wife want this to be next?)
  • Spouse (if anything was left)
  • God (in theory, at least, but it was certainly somewhere down on the list).

What I learned (the hard way) was that my priorities were literally upside-down.  They needed to be:

  • God (He wants me to excel in the other areas)
  • Spouse (healthier together, we are better for our children)
  • Children
  • Work

I am not saying how well I have been doing it (and I certainly haven’t been nailing it), but at least I know the goal and am trying to keep my eyes on the right things. One thing I realized is that people involved “in ministry” (using this in the traditional and narrow sense of church and non-profit work rather than the accurate sense of all work) often confuse “Work” with “God” in the heirarchy because they see themselves as “doing God’s work”.  All work should be seen as “God’s work” aimed at glorifying God, but that does not jump it up the priority list ahead of spouse and children into the category of “God”.  I think this confusion has hurt many, many spouses and children of people “in ministry”.

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