'What kind of Person?' - Shalom and Integrity
By Tim Evans - 25 January 2019
Over the past couple of weeks, Worth Unlimited has been in shock following the tragic and senseless fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old, who we knew, only a hundred yards from our Youth Bus. Understandably, people ask about the perpetrators, “What kind of people would do something so violent?”
‘Integrity’ is a word we often use to the describe the honest and principled character that we would like people to have. We see this as a standard to hold people to, especially those in public life. We can become frustrated and angry when people, such as politicians, behave selfishly or hypocritically. They are not behaving as they should.
Shalom, as I have described before, refers to everything being as it should be. In the case of individual integrity, it means that each person is upright and truthful, dependable, honest and just. They display the moral and spiritual qualities of wisdom and maturity. It also means that each person is in a state of being whole and undivided.
We all have experiences which lead to brokenness and have a negative impact on our self-image. A poor sense of self and low self-esteem fragment us emotionally and spiritually and affect our sense of self-worth. Our core integrity is damaged.
This understanding changes the way we understand and interact with people who appear to be lacking integrity. Our focus shifts away from the outward behaviour, the negative choices people have made. Instead, we look beyond to their inner brokenness, to understand the masks, pretence and bravado they have developed as a result of their negative self-image and how their behaviour has resulted from those things.
Inspired by the shalom imperative, we at Worth Unlimited work to make a significant contribution to restoring that core integrity, helping people to transform their view of themselves and enabling them to make a valued contribution to their wider world.
In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul describes nine attributes of a person living in accord with the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What we witnessed on the streets of London were the very opposites of these qualities, the opposite of the kind of character that is not only important to God, but important to society. We all choose how we will relate to one another and especially when we are talking about people taking the life of another, we cannot disregard personal responsibility. This understanding and approach to fostering integrity shouldn't be isolated from previous blogs where we have talked about other dimensions of shalom, such as well-being and justice. However, it is clear that understanding who a person is and how that results in how they act is important, as we play our part in shaping young lives, in helping them discover their real, true, God-given selves. Shaping character can be done through experiences, relationships, informal learning but ultimately integrity comes from young people connecting with something deep within themselves that is both true to them and yet beyond them.