This morning was our first “Monday” since the kids pranced home for the summer in late June.

Mondays are sacred. They’re my sabbath. My reboot. My time with Shauna. Monday mornings are ours and we don’t share them. We linger over a Starbucks coffee, share our hearts with each other, play a game, and enjoy each other in ways that I can’t describe here.

Today we reflected on the fact that ministry seems to amplify something that every one of us wrestles with on a daily basis. That struggle is the same for everyone, but if I screw it up, hundreds of people will pay for it dearly.

What is it?

Integrity. And not just the “do not lie, cheat, have an affair, steal money, look at porn” list. In some ways, that’s the easy stuff. The “biggies” come with flashing warning signs. No one wakes up one day and says, “I think I’ll defile myself today.” No, integrity begins on much more subtle footing. People slip into “biggies” because they’ve already given up their soul on the small stuff, which has paved the way, slowly added up, and brought them to the inevitable precipice.

The most important line you will ever decide to not cross resides inside yourself where no one sees, and it’s never about breaking an obvious commandment. It’s about violating your conscience in grey areas, where a decision isn’t about clear right and wrong on paper. I’m talking about those decisions where you have a check in your spirit or a deep kind of knowing or ought-to that you can’t describe other than to say you feel what’s right in your gut. A leading of the Holy Spirit.

I get those a lot. Often they even conflict with what I want to do. Ironically, that makes them more reliable because my own desires are not pressing me to do something. I want to do such and such, there’s nothing unbiblical or immoral about it, but I just don’t feel peace about it. What should I do?

I’m telling you right here and now that if you don’t listen to that gut level knowing, you have figuratively “sold your soul” and you have already crossed the line into the slippery shadowlands where integrity is relative. Even if the entire world says it’s okay to do something—mom, dad, husband, wife, friends, pastor—but you don’t feel good about it, to do it is to sin. It’s to hand over your heart, your integrity. Which in my mind leaves you with nothing.

The Bible covers both angles: What if you’re not at peace with DOING something? Have that nagging doubt? Romans 14:23 says, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” And what if you know something is right? James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” This is so subtle that dependence on the voice of God is indispensable. You won’t find a Bible verse at these times. Only real time guidance can take you where you need to be.

Personally, I must be able to look myself in the eye, in the mirror. At the end of the day, I answer to God for myself no matter what anyone is telling me. No excuses. Peer pressure doesn’t count. Nothing does but my integrity before a God who loves me ferociously. That alone is what frees me to sleep at night.