Something seems to be lost among the general populous these days. It’s not money or food, cars, or even work. We are not missing truth, although it seems to be muddled and wrapped up in half-truths and bold lies. We are not even missing jobs or entertainment or relationships. What we are missing is far greater than all of those things; because with it these things are all empty.
Some still have it, this thing we are missing. Few, though still practice it daily and may not be conscious of this thing that the world around them lacks. From small talk with strangers through fabric masks or long difficult discussions with family or friends, it is there in the words and thoughts of a few.
This thing, is integrity.
Integrity is often misunderstood or given as a name to things it is not. Often in the social media age integrity is misconstrued as loudly typing what you are convinced of and not wavering from it (even if you are wrong.) Integrity is also used as a name to describe certain means or ways of life. While integrity is needed to be a farmer or construction worker, there are not certain vocations that require no integrity.
Being a pastor that has also worked numerous jobs, it is my opinion that integrity is less about what we do and more about how we do it. Integrity is often doing right when it gains us nothing, or even costs us. It is doing good and well at whatever you do, because there is honor in integrity, yet there is no glory in it. Sometimes glory comes for those who live by integrity, but it is normally overlooked because integrity does not call attention to itself, but instead looks to the good in people and events. Integrity looks for the truth and holds fast to it despite the world around crumbling in a heap of lies.
For an example of this, I look to small town newspapers just like the one in your hands (or on your screen.) Few institutions have held to integrity like your neighbors that write and communicate in ways often forgotten by the fast paced world. Written media is an art form long forgotten by many who even practice it. I cannot begin to count the online articles published by supposedly reputable organizations with glaring errors and weak prose.
Yet, your local newspaper strives to always get it right, waiting for all the facts, and printing apologies and retractions for errors. Who else in their labor openly admits fault? Who else strives for the truth at little gain for themselves, only that readers would know? I would dare say newspapers have shown greater integrity than some in my own field. Far too often pastors have been accused and some still found guilty of evil things: that is a thing I hate. Yet, credit is due to some who would not take it for themselves.
I may be biased in this matter, having worked at the Gallipolis Daily Tribune as a reporter for just over a year. My college professors would slander me for admitting bias, however it is always there and you deserve to know given the nature and content of this article. I do have a purpose in typing this, a purpose for you. See, what I do every day requires integrity even when it has nothing to do with my vocation. Mowing my yard and walking my dogs requires integrity, because a failure to do even those little things with respect and honor affects how I pastor people. Would you trust a pastor that reportedly has no integrity?
Here’s the point of this; there are people with integrity all around us in Gallia, Meigs, and Mason County. Sometimes there are people with such integrity to stay in this area when they are not from here, working hard for very little to share the truth and live honorable lives, from how they care for their dog to how they talk and discuss the major events of our region that affect every one of us. In light of Covid-19 and the strange times we live in, we need more people to live with integrity, doing what is right regardless of the cost, and living honorable lives because it is always the right thing to do. To all of you living with integrity, I am grateful for you and how you live your lives, and I am even more grateful to know some of you personally.
Morgan McKinniss is a former reporter for Ohio Valley Publishing and currently pastor at Good News Baptist Church in Gallipolis, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.