Interactions and Integrity – Hitting the Right Notes// FaithWalk


I sing and play guitar (Takamine G Series, wine red) in a worship band at church. I’m up the front on a regular basis, looking worshipful and maybe perceived as one of the chosen few spiritual ones to handle a mic. I’d happily not be at the front (actually, the centre, at my place of worship – as we meet in a lecture theatre), but leaders don’t like the thought of guitarists or singers standing fourth row from the back or singing at the sidelines, which might well be my preference.

I’m also far from super spiritual, acutely aware of my shortcomings (impatience, self-centredness, negativity to name a few) whilst realising the responsibility of maintaining a heart that is intent on worshipping Christ and not focused on looking and sounding good. (Though playing badly through lack of practice is verging on unforgivable!)

My daily life, as for most, is filled with little interactions with a cross section of people in varied places… From chatting with my family round the dinner table, to petty talk with a cashier at the supermarket, to interactions with delivery guys or other people who come to the door. We all interact with those we know well and those we don’t know at all throughout the week. Neighbours. Parking attendants. Doctors or nurses. Teachers. Colleagues. Baristas.

And in those (often) insignificant moments there lurks something absolutely significant: As Christians, we represent Christ – and that either shines through to the people we meet, or it doesn’t. At worst, our flawed characteristics shine through (anger, jealousy, impatience).  And those attributes may be how we are remembered.

Shortly after a negative interaction with someone, in which I’ve shown little grace or displayed annoyance or impatience, I’ve almost immediately regretted my behaviour. It’s possible to apologise, but sometimes it’s too late. You’re already home unpacking the shopping when you wince over the way you huffed over the person in front of you in the queue who took forever.

That person who may have recently been issued with divorce papers. Or who just received a diagnosis of cancer. Or whose job is at risk of being axed.

The same person who could possibly show up at church next Sunday and recall the way you looked at them with disdain while you’re belting out… ‘I am a child of God’.

Yes, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. But I’ve found it helpful in my engagement and interactions with others, to keep in mind that the person serving me at the petrol station or cafe could move in across the street from me or turn up at church next Sunday. Will I aim for integrity in the daily minor interactions I face, will I represent the living Christ in me, or will I stomp through the day, caught up in the things I need to get done, unaware of my curt or impatient responses?

A smile or a helping hand or a kind word don’t cost anything, but they can mean a great deal to someone who is struggling or lonely.

It’s easy to think that the little things don’t matter but the little things often resound loudly to others. If just one string on my guitar is out of tune, it affects the whole sound of the other five strings when a chord is played. In the same way, I may display Christian attitudes and a heart for God most of the time but when my character becomes even a little out of tune with Gospel living, the song my life plays no longer sounds right, it’s out of tune with God and it may even drown out the positive parts.

I long to grow in integrity, patience and humility. I hope to reflect Christ. And the more I spend time in his presence, the more that becomes second nature. But it’s a constant fight to push back the old, inner self and let Christ be present in both the big and small aspects of life, day by day, moment by moment. We all need encouragement and grace to allow ourselves to be fine-tuned into a person of integrity, someone who can’t help resounding love, peace, patience – the fruits of a Spirit-filled life.

The Money Trap – Why politicians’ pay should not be attractive


In the news this week there is much furore over the issue of MPs being awarded a potential £10,000 pay rise. This at a time of major cuts and austerity across public services in a drive to reduce the national debt.

As their current salary stands at £66,396, MPs already earn nearly £40,000 above the national average, and with a plethora of perks – such as travel expenses and an additional residence in London – it would seem that a career in politics is quite an attractive option.

Which is exactly what we don’t want.

We need the right calibre of people going in to politics, to lead the country well and to make the decisions which benefit us all. Those with noble intentions and worthy characteristics such as integrity, wisdom, diligence and a genuine concern for their constituents. Those who are more concerned with doing the right thing than obsessing over their public image or the desire to climb the political ladder. MPs who will follow their convictions rather than the party whip; who will speak their minds rather than contrived political sound bites.

Thankfully, we still have some such politicians, though I fear they are becoming a minority.

What kind of leaders will govern us from Parliament if an MP’s salary becomes around two and a half times that of a teacher? (Teacher earning approx 31k in inner London after a few years.) Unfortunately, corruption and cockiness spring to mind.

Perhaps MPs should consider drastically reducing their pay to match that of teachers and nurses – those who generally go into the profession for commendable motives, and who want to make a difference.

It seems that now would be a good time to start a major shake-up in British politics if the government is to revive any widespread trust and hope in their leadership.

Of course, MPs deserve a decent salary. But it shouldn’t draw in those merely looking to carve out a career and a name for themselves. We’re getting tired of spin and shame in politics – across all parties and persuasions. In order to restore faith in our political system, measures must be taken to ensure that the quality of candidates applying for the job matches our expectations for the role. Those seeking monetary gain or fame need not apply.

ETA: A few days on, and now we read of MPs and Cabinet ministers claiming additional expenses for their children (housing and travel).