Standing with Others Prepares Us to Stand Alone

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We tell our children about the people we hope they will become (and indeed hope we are): people of courage and conviction who stand for right even before powerful authorities able to make things awfully wrong. William Wallace refused to beg for mercy from a corrupt king (as immortalized in Mel Gibson’s film Braveheart). Sir Thomas More spoke out against King Henry VIII’s flagrant disregard of Christian teaching at the cost of his own neck. We admire the few willing to lose what is dear in this world to maintain a standard from another world.

We call them people of integrity. But how do we become like them?

A helpful definition of integrity is “the quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.”* The Bible casts integrity as being “completely” God’s man or woman, “undivided” in loyalty and fidelity to Him. Integrity enters the boardroom, courtroom, classroom, executive conference room, kitchen, or baby’s room to be first and foremost wholly faithful to God—no matter the cost.

The biblical book of Daniel shows a man who not once or twice but repeatedly faced a king who held life and death in his hands. Daniel simply, clearly, and unwaveringly remained faithful to his God’s demands on his life. How was he able to do it? A valuable lesson from Daniel’s life is that we don’t learn to stand alone all alone. The people standing with us help us become people who can stand alone.

In the book’s early chapters, Daniel is a captive in King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon’s court and in training to serve the new king. The drama focuses on Daniel, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are with him. And while Daniel is the spokesperson, the young men are together in their early captivity as they are encultured to “fit in” the new court.

At a crucial moment, the four young men collectively protest dietary expectations that would compromise their faith. While food choice is a small matter to most of us, for them it signified loyalty to their God in a foreign land.

Later on, all the men will be up against intensely more difficult challenges and temptations to compromise (indeed, Daniel himself was sent alone into a lion’s den). But these early chapters show that men practicing their beliefs together developed long term their whole, complete, and undivided loyalty to God.

To similarly be people of genuine conviction and integrity, we’d be wise to surround ourselves—especially early in our careers when we are tempted to cut corners or face a daunting challenge—with men and women who share our convictions, our faith, our desire to live “undivided.” When the times come to face off with power all alone, we will have learned to stand alone by standing alongside others.

Read more of Tod Bolsinger at his blog, It Takes A Church.

* American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, 2000