Integrity allows you to bring your whole self to your whole life.
Philippians 4:11-13, Matthew 6:31-34, John 15:4-5
- Integrity requires wisdom. Wisdom brings centeredness. Centeredness brings contentment.
- A lack of integrity shows up in unfulfilled desires and poisonous relationships.
- You see what you look for.
- Your activities are defined by your identity rather than your identity being determined by your activities.
- Contentment frees you to be YOU!
- It’s impossible to want two competing things at the same time. Where you remain makes all the difference.
- God is the only one who has the strength to make your heart content.
- A lost soul isn’t a destination. It’s a condition.
- If we can’t keep up, we pretend.
- When you divide your life into segments, you are undoing everything integrity is trying to do.
“You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe…You [are tempted to] think that you have to be someplace else or accomplish something more to find peace. But it’s right here. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.” Dallas Willard
- Read the quote from Dallas Willard. How does this quote speak to destination thinking? How does destination thinking inhibit us from walking in integrity and experiencing contentment?
- How do you tend to react when your contentment wanes? Where do your eyes look towards when discontentment sets in?
- What does it mean to “bring your whole self to your whole life”? Who do you know that best lives out this mindset?
- Read Philippians 4:11-13. How does one learn contentment?
- Read Matthew 6:31-34. What happens to our integrity when we worry? What drives our worry? Do you believe God already knows all your needs? Why or why not? Does the way you live your life reflect your answer?
- Read John 15:4-5. How is our ability to display integrity tied to our willingness to remain in Christ? How would you describe your current connection level with Him?
- Think of the places where you are experiencing discontentment. What seems to be fueling this tension? Why do you believe God is trying to get your attention in this circumstance? What could He be teaching you in the midst of what you are going through?
- You are likely to see what you are looking for. If this is true, where are your eyes set? What are your eyes telling you?
- What aspect of who you are (job, family, relationships, faith, status, hobbies, etc.) are you wrestling bringing your whole self towards? What would it look like to show up and bring wholeness to this area?
Centeredness brings contentment.
Philippians 4:11-13, Proverbs 10:9, James 1:5-8, James 3:13-17 and Hebrews 13:5
- Wisdom doesn’t reside in the heart. Wisdom forms in the heart.
- God’s wisdom awakens us to something more than our needs and our desires.
- Contentment isn’t about having everything perfect, but having everything held in His hands.
- God will give me everything I need in order to do everything He has asked me to do.
- Wisdom isn’t something you get. It is something that is formed.
- Integrity is what brings security.
- Doing things to escape reality undermines and erodes our integrity.
- Purity comes from a single source.
- If we harbor envy and selfish ambition, we will live our lives constantly competing and comparing ourselves to others.
- When contentment defines your life the only agenda in your relationships is giving yourself away and wanting the best for someone else.
- Complete the following sentence: Contentment is _____________. How do you define contentment? When you think of someone who is content, what comes to mind?
- If insecurity finds a home in our heart, we either overstate or understate ourselves. Of the two, which one do you tend to do more often?
- How do our insecurities influence our integrity and impact our relationships with others?
- God will give you everything you need in order to do everything He has asked you to do. Do you agree with this statement? How does your answer influence your ability to experience contentment?
- Read Philippians 4:11-13 and Hebrews 13:5. What is the secret to finding contentment? How does relying on God’s strength fuel our contentment?
- Read Proverbs 10:9. What do you see as the connection between contentment and integrity? How does contentment allow us to walk securely and live with integrity?
- Read James 1:5-8. What role does wisdom play in our pursuit of contentment?
- Read James 3:13-17. Are there places in your life where envy and selfish ambition are making an appearance? How are these qualities impacting the way you approach the people on the other side of the issue?
- Do you like the person you’ve become? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do? How often do you give thought to the person you are becoming?
- Where are you most prone to attempt to escape reality? Why are you trying to escape these circumstances? How is this influencing your ability to walk in integrity?
Integrity is centeredness.
Proverbs 10:9, James 1:5-8 and James 3:13-17
- If wisdom makes you arrogant then what you have isn’t wisdom.
- If your emotional health is dependent upon how you compare and compete with others, you will always be sick.
- Who you are can be summed up by three things: What you think, what you feel and what you choose.
- The opposite of integrity is being divided and double-minded.
- In order to get wisdom, you have to actually believe you need it in the first place.
- Wisdom is the alignment of our heart and mind.
- Instead of trying to find balance in life, pursue centeredness because that is where integrity and security is found.
- Our compartmentalized hearts have lead to fractured souls.
- When you encounter God and His greatness, you’ve arrived at the starting line of wisdom.
- We don’t tend to think about integrity until we meet someone without it.
“We possess singleness when we are not pulled in opposite directions and when we act without wanting something further for ourselves. Our inner drives do not conflict; they are aimed in one direction. The motives we appear to have are the ones we actually have. Our inner focus is unified and our public posture corresponds with with. We are not, in short, divided.” –Clifford Williams
- Complete the following sentence: Integrity is ___________________. If you define integrity this way, what then is the opposite of integrity?
- Would you say that you are a person of integrity? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- What is the difference between pursuing balance and pursuing centeredness? How has your pursuit of balance left you?
- Read the quote from Clifford Williams. How does one attain or get integrity? Do you believe it is possible to get to a point where you can trust your motives? Why or why not?
- Read Proverbs 10:9. How does integrity provide the security we crave?
- Read James 1:5-8. How can one walk with integrity when doubt exists? What does it look like to be double-minded?
- Read James 3:13-17. What role does humility play in our pursuit of wisdom and integrity? What are the two sources of wisdom we have to choose from and how are they different from one another?
- Are there places in your life where you are attempting to compartmentalize your faith?
- When someone asks“How are you?” is your answer honest or is it based off your circumstances or concealing your circumstances? If God were to ask you the same question, how would you respond?
- If you aren’t paying attention, where do your mind naturally drift in hopes of finding security (wealth, relationships, status, work, etc.)?
- How does competition and comparison affect how you think, what you feel and what you do? Where are you most prone to compete and compare yourself with others? What drives this insecurity?
Always think next step!
2 Corinthians 5:7, Romans 1:16-17, Mark 10:17-21, Psalm 34:8, Hebrews 11:6
- Valuing discovery keeps us curious about the future and engaged in the process, even when the desired results don’t come right away.
- Faith is the heart set by which our experience catches up with reality.
- We love formulas because they establish predictable and controllable outcomes.
- In the face of uncertainty, our default mindset is “tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” This promotes excuses and prevents ownership.
- If we’re not careful, we’ll use the Bible to find answers rather than to relate to God.
- Each step of faith we take provides us with an opportunity to discover things about God we didn’t know before.
- Discovery breaks our tendency to control and execute by pushing us to trust and obey.
- Discovery makes room for our struggle, doubts and questions.
- When you can see 10 steps down the path, you don’t need any faith to take the first step. Faith requires uncertainty.
- It’s possible to have all the right answers but no understanding.
- How would you describe or define DISCOVERY? Why is it important that our church community values discovery? How is understanding and valuing discovery critical in your own life?
- What is the difference between always thinking “next step” and always thinking “next steps”? Which one leads people towards discovery and which one pushes people to control their circumstances?
- What is the danger in viewing the Bible solely as an answer book? How does having a “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it” mindset influence the way we approach scripture?
- How do you typically respond to situations where uncertainty is present? Would you describe yourself as a control freak? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read Mark 10:17-21. In this passage, how did Jesus value and exemplify discovery? In what ways did Jesus get to the heart of the issue at hand? What did Jesus want the Rich Young Ruler to discover and see?
- Read Romans 1:16-17. How does this passage speak to embracing the process of faith? How does embracing discovery lead to trust and an inner change that is visible to others?
- Read Psalm 34:8. What does it mean to “taste and see” that the Lord is good? What have you done with this invitation?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:7 and Hebrews 11:6. What is it about our faith that pleases God? Why is our willingness to display faith and pursue discovery so valuable to Him?
- Where are you reluctant to take your next step of faith because you are focused on how the other steps farther down the path will pan out? What would it look like to display courage, step out in obedience and think “next step”?
- Are there any situations in your life where you doing everything in your power to control the outcome? Why are you fighting for control in this area? What makes you reluctant to let go and trust?
- Think of a current struggle (relationship issue, poor choice, difficult life circumstance, feeling disconnected from God, etc.). How can you take this struggle and use it as an opportunity to practice the value of discovery?
Always consider others.
Ephesians 4:14-16, Philippians 2:1-11, Galatians 6:1-10
- Connection is to be safely within the care and trust of the body.
- People need a safe place to process their faith.
- It’s easy to believe we love everyone when we are living alone.
- When we’re under pressure we’re more likely to use people to get what we want.
- The people in the seats are more important than the issues on the table.
- Love is allowing people to belong and helping them to become.
- People want to be great and for their life to count.
- People aren’t dumb. People are proud and proud people do dumb things.
- Everyone wants you to think like they do.
- Everybody is crazy so quit wasting time and energy pretending you have it altogether.
- Consider their perspective and story. Consider what they want. Consider what they need.
“We probably have wondered in our many lonesome moments if there is one corner in this competitive, demanding world where it is safe…It might be very small and hidden. But if this corner exists, it calls for a search through the complexities of our human relationships to find it.” -Henri Nouwen
- Read the quote from Henri Nouwen. How have you experienced this desperate search for connection? Why is our tendency to compete rather than connect with others?
- What is the purpose of a relationship? What makes you answer in the way that you do? How does one arrange their life to live out the value of relationships?
- Self-preservation prevents authentic relationships from taking root in our lives. Over the years how have you engaged in self-preservation?
- Can you think of a time when God used someone to speak truth in love to get your attention and help form your character?
- Read Ephesians 4:14-16. When it comes to speaking the truth in love, which part do you tend to emphasize: (1) love without truth or (2) truth without love? Why do you believe this is your natural inclination?
- Read Philippians 2:1-11. What does it mean to “look out for the interest of others”? What are some of the interests of others that we should pay attention to? What role should humility play in our relationships?
- Read Galatians 6:1-10. How does one “carry their own load” while also allowing others to “carry each other’s burdens”? What is required of both parties in order to make this happen?
- Where are you competing with others rather than connecting with them? What drives this competition? Where do you need to display humility?
- Always consider others. Think of a relationship where there is conflict or disagreement. How can you begin to consider the other person’s perspective? What part of their story are you missing?
- Is there someone in your life you need to speak the truth in love to? How can you begin to engage in conversations with this individual? How can you test your motives for speaking these words?
Authenticity begins with honesty.
Genesis 1:26-27, Colossians 3:7-10, Psalm 51:6, James 1:22-25, Psalm 1:1-3
- If you want to pursue truth, you begin by pursuing Jesus.
- Trust can be shaken simply by suspicion. Distrust only requires a question mark.
- Faith is a heart set that allows your experience to catch up with reality.
- Authenticity isn’t about being perfect, but about identity and the image you are reflecting.
- Authenticity provides a standard for truth and a foundation for trust.
- Transparency is what you are allowed to see. Authenticity is trusting what you see.
- The value of authenticity requires that we are relentlessly looking for and pursuing what is true.
- Authenticity requires process and is dependent on grace. We’re all works in progress.
- We are experts at retelling false narratives. We must examine the stories we keep telling about ourselves and others.
- Authenticity has become a buzzword in today’s culture. What do you believe is behind this push to be “authentic”?
- How would you describe or define AUTHENTICITY? Why is it important that our church community values authenticity? How is understanding and valuing authenticity critical in your own life?
- How have you seen authenticity misused and distorted into something it is not (ex. “this is just who I am..I’m being real”)? What are the differences between transparency and authenticity?
- Is it possible to trust an imperfect person? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read Genesis 1:26-27. Why does authenticity require a standard?
- Read James 1:22-25. How does this verse speak to authenticity not being about achieving a standard or perfection, but rather our identity and the image we are reflecting?
- Read Colossians 3:7-10. What role does process and grace play in valuing authenticity in your life and the life of other believers?
- Read Psalm 1:1-3. What level of security does living an authentic life provide?
- What false narratives do you keep telling about yourself or others? How does this story come to be? Why do you continue to tell it?
- Read Psalm 51:6. Where are you resistant to allow God’s truth to penetrate your innermost being ? If authenticity requires honesty, why does this place of your heart remain hidden and unaddressed?
- Are there relationships where your inauthenticity has caused mistrust or suspicion to spring up? How can you mend this relationship?
When your presence is somewhere so is HIS.
Mark 3:1-6, Matthew 10:16, Colossians 4:5-6, Luke 5:17-26.
- Priorities are determined by what we value. Unfortunately, the pace of our life squeezes out our priorities.
- Values explain and preserve why you do what you do.
- A context is present in every relationship, situation and circumstance.
- Being relevant means you matter.
- Don’t have the wrong conversations or waste your time solving the wrong problem. Take the time to understand what is really going on.
- If your words are seasoned with salt, they awaken thought and the thirst for connection.
- When we don’t understand or value context, we become irrelevant.
- Always pay attention. Pay attention to your words, your presence and your influence.
- Context can either be imposed or created.
- How would you describe or define CONTEXT? Why is it important that our church community values context? How is understanding and valuing context critical in your own life?
- What is the danger in not valuing context? What happens if we fail to uphold this value?
- Context can be either imposed or created. Describe the difference between the two. How is context present in every relationships, situation or circumstance?
- Read Matthew 10:16. Why do you believe Jesus used a dove and a serpent to describe how we should carry ourselves in this world? What qualities do these two animals possess that should be seen in our lives?
- Read Colossians 4:5-6. What does it mean to let your conversations “be seasoned with salt”? What role do our ears and mouth play in valuing context? How can valuing context help us make the most of every opportunity?
- Read Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 5:17-26. How do these two stories speak to Jesus understanding and valuing context? In what ways did Jesus speak to the real issues, concerns and attitudes that were present below the surface?
- In what relationships or situations are you failing to understanding context?How is this affecting your connection points and the influence you have in this area or relationship?
- What are you bringing to the environments you are a part of? Are you adding or taking away value? Does your life cause people to be drawn to you or avoid you?
- Where are you having the wrong conversation or attempting to solve the wrong problem? How can you begin to pay attention and address the deeper issue taking place below the surface?
When you understand what matters you can begin to pursue what matters.
Ephesians 1:15-19, Proverbs 13:12, 2 Corinthians 4:6, Psalm 34:8
- What we collide with effects us so deeply on the inside that it eventually gets expressed on the outside.
- Stop managing behavior. Begin to focus on what you see.
- You have a say in who you become this year.
- Jesus invites you into the process of seeing the world differently. Wisdom is about your eyes being awakened.
- Promises focus on the outcome, but neglect the process.
- Values define the things that matter.
- The fruit of futility is indifference. The fruit of resentment is bitterness.
- Spend less time thinking on HOW you are going to change and more time reflecting on WHY you want to change.
- Vision allows you to see what you hope to become and not just what you no longer want to do.
- When you understand what matters you can stop reacting and start responding.
- Over the past few weeks do you find yourself reacting to circumstances or responding to your circumstances? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- How is transformation and growth found not in fixing your behavior, but changing what you see?
- What dangers exist when you focus solely on HOW you are going to change and fail to answer WHY you want to change?
- Read Ephesians 1:15-19 and 2 Corinthians 4:6. What was Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus? What does it mean for the eyes of your heart to be opened? What did Paul want them to see with this new vision?
- Read Proverbs 13:12. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. The fruit of futility is indifference. The fruit of resentment is bitterness. Are there places, situations or relationships where you are carrying indifference and bitterness with you into 2017? Why are you responding in this way and what would it look like to change your perspective?
- Read Psalm 34:8. How willing are you to “taste and see” that the Lord is good? What are you doing with this invitation?
- If someone were to follow you around for a few days, how do you think they would describe what you value? How would their assessment make you feel?
- What are the things that matter to you? How is your life arranged to value those things?
- How would you describe the vision you have for the person you want to become in 2017?
You end up doing BIG things for God by consistently doing SMALL things well.
Colossians 3:17, Colossians 3:22-25, 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12, 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12, Proverbs 20:5
- God has gifted you. God has placed you right where you are.
- Everybody has influence. Everybody is leading somebody somewhere.
- As believers, you carry the integrity of His image and the influence of His love wherever you go.
- Our motives and definitions of success need to be evaluated.
- Your purpose always exists outside of yourself.
- Live in a way where your relationship with Christ is honored.
- God uses your work as a provision for your life and a platform for influence.
- If you don’t define success for yourself, everyone else will.
- God is far less concerned with WHAT we do and more focused on WHY we do it.
- You don’t find your purpose by looking for it. You find your purpose by giving yourself to others.
- Over the years how have you wrestled with that questions, “Why am I here? What is my purpose?” Where have you gained clarity on the answer?
- Where do you have a tendency to overcomplicate God’s will? What has your response been to this pressure?
- Do you believe you have the potential to influence others? Why or why not? How does your answer spur you on or cause you to hesitate to respond?
- What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? How do you define a successful life? Why is it important to reflect on our motives and definitions of success on a regular basis?
- Read Colossians 3:17 and Colossians 3:22-25. How do these verses speak to God being far less concerned about WHAT we do and more focused on WHY we do it?
- Read 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 and 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12. According to these passages, how does what we do provide provision for our life and a platform to influence others?
- Read Proverbs 20:5. How is our purpose found by looking outside of ourselves?
- What are some small steps you can take to begin to unlock God’s unique expression for your life?
- What are you doing with the influence you’ve been given? Would you say you are stewarding your influence well? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Your purpose always lies outside of yourself. What opportunities have presented themselves to invest in the lives of others?
We must make room for connections and to see those we love.
- The more you get to know someone, the messier things get.
- To love is to act for the good of another.
- People may not remember what you say, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.
- If we’re not careful, relationships can very easily become destinations or resume builders.
- It’s easier to stay shallow than wade into the mess.
- Speed kills relationships.
- Think about your relationships in 2016. Are your relationships flourishing or floundering? What has been the cause of either their growth or weakening?
- What damage can the pace of our life inflict on our relationships? When we are in a hurry, what happens to our connections?
- People may not remember what you say, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. If we were to ask your friends and family how you made them feel over the past year, what do you think their response would be and why? How would their response make you feel?
“Pride is defined by desire, not by love. It is, above all, the presumption that my desires should be fulfilled and that it is an injustice, a crying shame, and an injury if they are not… Love eliminates pride because its will for the good of the other nullifies our arrogant presumption that we should get our way.” -Dallas Willard
- Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. What does it look like to pursue holiness in our relationships with one another? How would our interactions with one another change if we looked to future grace instead of former ignorance?
- Read 1 John 4:7-8 and the quote from Dallas Willard. How does love eliminate pride? Why does love require intentionality and focus? How is our willingness to show love tied to our understanding of Christ’s love?
- Read Hebrews 10:23-25 and 1 Peter 3:8. The more you get to know someone, the messier things get. How have you seen this statement play out in your relationships? What causes you to engage in self-preservation or put limits on your connections with others?
- Read Matthew 5:23-24. According to this passage, what value did Jesus place on our relationships with one another?
- How do you want your current connections to grow and deepen in the upcoming year? What do you hope is different about your relationships a year from now?
- What values do you want to define your relationships in 2017? How will you ensure these values are lived out with the people around you? How can you make room in your life for connections?
- How would the way you approach your relationships in 2017 change if you lived by the “leave things better than you found them” principle?