Published by IVP, with a foreword by John Stot, and a recommendation from Jonathan Aitken, this was always going to be an interesting book! Jonathan Lamb, currently director of Langham Preaching and formerly very involved with IFES, has written a powerful book whose title is the topic, “Integrity”. Subtitled “Leading with God Watching”, this book is a powerful call to Integrity as a result of an expansive and powerful journey through Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians. Scattering anecdote, insight and experience throughout the time-honoured framework of the Epistle, Lamb has written a very useful and challenging book for those of us seeking to see our characters conformed to be more like Christ.
After the short and sweet foreword from John Stott, Lamb brings us part A (of A-E), where we look at Leadership and Integrity. With a good overview of the loss of integrity in many public figures, Lamb effectively demonstrates the missional need for integrity – and the biblical value of it. We then launch into a discussion of what integrity actually looks like. Lamb is nuanced but helpfully concise, closing this section with the simple question; “Are you the same person in a traffic jam, a hotel room, a tax office and a family argument as you are in the church or the pulpit?“. The next section, B, looks at issues of Leadership and calling. One of the strongest uses of the subtitle is found here, with a careful study of where in 2nd Corinthians we see that “God sees… God knows… God cares“, and that Paul “knows that he is accountable to God“, which is the starting point of Christian integrity. Accountability is vital for many reasons, including staying on task, keeping the main thing the main thing, and avoiding manipulation.
We move on in section C to Leadership and community. This is where the issue of integrity in leadership – and in discipleship in general – comes to the fore most contentiously. Lamb helps us navigate issues such as Exercising authority – “Paul’s model for leadership was Christ himself“, Building community – “Trust is essential” – Confronting failure – “By God’s grace, whatever the nature of our failure, there is a way back“, and finally Handling money; “the issue of our use of money is right at the heart of our Christian discipleship“. Further foundations laid, we move into D, looking at Leadership and its challenges. This climaxes in – and throughout the focus is building up to – humility, which is the call of the Christian leader. This helpful chapter is vital reading in order to help Christians not make the mistake of leaders in the secular world.
The final section of this excellent book, E, looks to wrap all of the lessons together by talking about Integrity as a way of life. ‘Living contentedly’, for Lamb, means “bowing to the will of God, trusting him more fully and acknowledging his good purposes for our lives“. Another essential component of Integrity, ‘Living consistently’, is noted as being a costly way. We as Christians need to live “lives that reflect the consistency and integrity of the Lord who calls us to follow him. In a cynical world, that is the kind of Christianity people need to see“. Amen. The final chapter deals with ‘Living authentically’, and I reproduce Lamb’s concluding words here;
“We live in the anticipation of the reality of eternity. We fix our eyes on:
– inward renewal, not outward decline;
– future glory, not present trouble;
– the unseen realities of our future home, not the temporary glitter of this world.
To have this perspective is truly to live authentically”
This is one of the most helpful books I have read, in terms of Scriptural application and character development. Setting the discussion of human hearts in the wisdom of 2nd Corinthians is an inspired move, and it helps to resonate the truths in this book throughout oneself. Lamb closes each section with some questions for reflection – which are genuinely thought through and helpful – helping to apply the lessons learned carefully. This is a book I would recommend wholeheartedly to any and all Christians, and especially Christian leaders, whatever their level of leadership.