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College students challenged to live lives of integrity

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (BP)–Everyone wants to embrace it, but few manage to apply it to their lives.
The “it” is personal integrity and Chris Davis recently challenged a group of college students to get serious about reflecting it in their everyday lives.
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary recruiter led an Aug. 12 seminar on integrity during Student Week ’97 at Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Assembly.
When he agreed to lead the session, Davis said he was skeptical whether many students would attend. To his surprise, 62 collegians packed like sardines into a small conference room, forcing him to move the seminar outside.
“The business world is concerned about this — they want to hire people of integrity for their companies. As Christians, we should be even more concerned about it because we want to bring people to Christ,” Davis told the students as they took notes and jotted down Scripture references.
In preparing for the seminar, Davis said he found very few authors who were willing to define integrity. But he discovered these words used to describe it: wisdom, honesty, compassion, joy, trust, endurance and self-control. The Hebrew word translated as “integrity” in the Old Testament, he added, means “whole, complete, upright and ethically sound.”
What prevents us from living lives of integrity? Deceitful hearts is part of the problem, Davis said.
“What causes us to lack integrity is what’s inside us. As the Apostle Paul said, the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.”
He urged students to be quick to confess sin in their lives.
“When I do something wrong, I’ve learned to confess it right then because I don’t want excess baggage to hold me back. Once you confess sin, it is gone right then, you’re forgiven.”
Davis told students men and women of integrity are not hypocrites — they live what they believe.
“Our lives should be able to withstand any kind of inspection,” he said. “Don’t be a hypocrite. God doesn’t like that one bit.”
Honesty is another trait of a person with integrity, Davis said, adding “honest people speak the truth, even in their hearts.”
Self-control and endurance are two additional keys to a life of integrity, he said.
Describing “secrets to self-control,” Davis said Christians need “to fall in love with God.”
“When you fall in love with someone, you send them notes, flowers, and you spend as much time with them as possible. But what do you do for God in the supposed love relationship you have with him?
“We should be willing to spend more time with God in prayer and study. We should be excited about our relationship with him.”
Another secret to self-control, Davis said, is “living out the Word of God.”
“Immerse yourself in Scripture,” he challenged students. “If you want to be self-controlled, you have to become spiritually fit. You have to study and apply the Word of God.”
Davis encouraged students to pray for endurance in living out their faith, pointing to the Apostle Paul as an excellent role model.
“If anyone ever had a reason to quit, Paul did. He was shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned. I don’t have to face things like that, but I still need God’s help. I have found that if I ask for his strength and power, God will give me what it takes to face whatever comes.”
Staff members of the Baptist Sunday School Board’s national student ministry (NSM) chose integrity as the first element in its new “CrossSeekers” covenant. A nationwide discipleship emphasis, CrossSeekers asks college students to commit to integrity, witnessing, spiritual growth, service, purity and Christlike relationships.
The first student to share his testimony with his peers during Student Week at Lake Junaluska focused on integrity, too.
Nathan DeGroff, a junior at Northern Kentucky University, said 75 percent of all drivers exceed the speed limit and 60 percent of employees call in sick occasionally just to have a day off.
“But it’s really hard for our testimony to be all it can be if we let the little things slide,” he said. “I’m going to seek him and try to live the life of integrity.”
Student Week ’97, which included separate events at Lake Junaluska, N.C., Aug. 10-15, and Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center Aug. 9-15, attracted more than 2,000 college students and student leaders from across the country. It was sponsored by NSM.

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  • Chip Alford