REV CANON DR JOHN SENYONYI
Young people have asked me often how they can hold out on their faith to withstand the storms of life and stand with integrity. I will use John the Baptist to attempt an answer to their question.
Jesus used puzzling words to describe John the Baptist. He said, “I tell you, among those born of women, none is greater than John. Yet one who is the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Thus He lauded John as a great man, in fact, the greatest among those born of women. Admittedly, John’s influence was significant, so much so that while in prison, he was still a feared man.
He stood faithful till the end when Herod’s concubine asked for his execution. What made this prisoner so special?
It certainly was not the geographical setting of his ministry – for he was a wilderness preacher.
You do not go to the wilderness to have impact on people. And if we are looking for a great man, we go to the State House or to dapper offices.
John’s clothing and earthly presentation were a letdown too, beneath what we would expect of a great man.
John was a hermit who spent his time in the wilderness. What was it about this hermit’s greatness, which Jesus lauded?
Clearly our yardstick of greatness is not Jesus’s. American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that, “Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force; that thoughts rule the world.” John lived consistently to apply his heavenly calling to his earthly circumstances.
In particular, we recognise that John was a man of integrity. It was for this reason that he was jailed, for he told off a king about his illicit affair with another man’s wife.
Authentic character requires unflinching integrity. John was doubtless a man of integrity. It has been said that integrity is the commonest core value for organisations and professions.
And yet, this much discussed word seems to be an ever receding quality among the same entities.
And a discussion of character is woefully deficient if it does not enjoin integrity on those who seek to be men or women of character.
Integrity means oneness of being. It means to live one life both in private and in public. A person of integrity does not live for the human eye but for the God who sees all things, even the secret thoughts in our hearts.
Thomas McCauley says, “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he would never be found out.”
For example, I am faithful to my wife both away and in her presence. Similarly, the truth has one face. Integrity compels me to return advanced money, which I did not need to use for the purpose it was given. It also means I do not use money because it was advanced, but because I need to use it.
Integrity will not hire or promote a tribes-mate or relative, above more qualified staff unrelated to you.
And integrity would rather earn its salary at the end of the month than collect it with no or less work done.
John lost his life for his integrity, but he did not lose his name. The loss of integrity remains a permanent scar on one’s character. The end of a man with integrity is unalterable honour and pride.
Billy Graham said: “Integrity (or character for that matter) is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
Therefore, I suggest to you that your greatest asset in life is your character. Guard it jealously. Let it be seen in your work, study, and family.