I’m paid to be trusted.
As an Editor who dabbles in the field of journalism, I have an obligation to uphold journalistic integrity. Some of this involves protecting sources that wish to remain anonymous and refraining from publishing confidential information that a person declares “off the record.”
In a sense it’s quite amazing to think that a complete stranger would trust me with information that is not for public consumption. The person is not simply putting trust in me as a person, but trust in my title. This also puts massive pressure on me and those in similar positions because we have been entrusted with knowledge that has tight boundaries.
Consider the example of Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada. These men, reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle and authors of Game of Shadows, were some of the first to report information about individual steroid use in professional sports, with much of the information allegedly coming from leaked grand jury testimony. Although they were subpoenaed before a federal grand jury, they refused to reveal the names of their sources and stated they would go to prison before giving up the identities.
While some may debate their investigative methods, there’s no doubt that these men were willing to go to great lengths to protect their sources. They were willing to spend 18 months in prison simply to protect the people they said they would protect.
When I look at the issue of trust and integrity, sometimes I question if journalistic integrity trumps Christian integrity. Journalists will sacrifice their paychecks, their jobs, and even their freedom to keep trust intact, sometimes even for random strangers they’ve never met. Yet sadly, when I look at the relationships between many Christians, it seems we can’t even trust each other enough to confess our temptations, sins, and struggles to one another.
James 5:16 exhorts us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. But how many of us actually have relationships where we can be honest with our friends and our community and discuss our sins and temptations? In my estimation, very few of us. We’re able to confess “certain” sins–the “little” ones that are culturally acceptable–but we’re scared to peel back too many layers and reveal our true nature because frankly, we’re not sure if others can be trusted. Every sin and temptation we’ve confessed in private that’s been transformed into public gossip has made us increasingly skeptical and reluctant to share what desperately needs to be confessed. Every hope of trust that has turned into a self-righteous judgmental finger has further built an inner defense mechanism, deceitfully telling us keep quiet and deal with things on our own, because after all, “You’re alone in this struggle. No true Christian struggles with this!”
If we wear the name of Jesus and call ourselves Christians, then people need to be able to put their trust in that title. Whether it’s friends, family, or even the occasional stranger, people need to see our Christian integrity–an integrity that’s based in love, sacrifice, trust, and even our own transparency. The pressure we face may be massive and the responsibility of maintaining our integrity may seem daunting at times, but the results of true confession, honest prayer, and authentic community are well worth the price.
A journalist has an obligation to uphold journalistic integrity? Shouldn’t our responsibility to uphold Christian integrity be so much greater?
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