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BOOK REVIEW: Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality
Last Updated: 12/2/08
When meeting with church transition teams, one of the characteristics often cited as essential for their new pastor is that he be “a man of integrity.” However, integrity is seldom defined; and when it is, it’s oftentimes superficial. Seldom does the definition go beyond “don’t lie, smoke, or chew.”
In the book "Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality,” noted psychologist and author Dr. Henry Cloud goes beyond the superficial to explore the depths and dimensions of integrity. He states it’s more than simple honesty; it’s the key to success. Drawing from his work with Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and individual leaders, Dr. Cloud suggests the core competency of leadership integrity is rooted in character. In his view, character is more critical to a person's “success” than natural intelligence, talents, competencies, energy, effort, and opportunities. Cloud identifies six dimensions of leaders with integrity:
1. They have the ability to connect with others and build trust.
2. They are oriented towards truth.
3. They have the ability to get results and finish well.
4. They embrace the negative.
5. They create personal growth opportunities.
6. They have an understanding of the transcendence.
My personal “take-away” from this book is the author’s challenges regarding the impact leaders have on others; Dr. Cloud calls it “the wake.” As we do life, just like a boat, we leave a wake. By looking back at our wake and the wake of others, we see results. Cloud states that by reviewing the wake, we gain insight in two areas:
1. Tasks: Is it a wake of goals reached? Things completed? Growth? A stronger reputation for the work and the organization?
2. Relationships: Do people trust more after working with me? Are they more fulfilled as people? Did they learn from me? Were they stretched? Were they encouraged to do greater things?
This is a book that will challenge every pastor and every leader in your church. And if you enjoy this book, I also recommend "The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything" by Stephen M.R. Covey. Covey links the importance of both trust and integrity.
Gary J. Blanchard, Assistant Superintendent & Executive Secretary of the Illinois Assemblies of God
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