Peripateo: The Path of Integrity

Even Jesus’ enemies recognized Him as “a man of integrity” (Matthew 22:16). What was it about Jesus that established this reputation even among those who opposed Him?

Part of my daily routine is to get up just before dawn and soak my aging joints in a hot tub. I relax, lay my head back, survey the heavens and meditate. Living in the Northern Hemisphere, I see the very same celestial heavens as David when he tended his flocks on hillsides in Judah. Yet, in the early morning sky, I see something David never saw: vapor trails of dozens of airplanes making their early morning flights across the northern Indiana sky to Chicago, New York, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and places beyond. I can make a fairly accurate guess as to where they originated and where they are going by their vapor trails.

Ironically, at the time of this writing, Malaysian Airline Flight MH370 has been missing for weeks, presumed lost in the remote Indian Ocean without any trace or trail. Its disappearance is bazaar and has baffled experts world wide because air travels, like most journeys in life, leave trails – be it radar signals, vapor trails, or animal paths in remote terrains. Life’s journey leaves trails that remain records of where one has been or is going and the turns made along the way.

It is easy to image David reclining against a rock in the very early morning, watching over his flock and surveying the starry heavens. As he monitored his flock to be sure they were safe and secure, he was inspired by the words of his most famous Psalm: The Lord is my Shepherd.

As he approximated his location, the closest pasture and nearest water source and laid out the logistics of the coming day to feed and water his sheep, he was reminded of how the Lord cared for him. He wrote: I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.

 As the first glimmer of dawn illuminated the Judean hillside, David could see hundreds of paths crisscross like a complex maze. From experience, he knew that some paths led to dead ends, to predators’ caves, over cliffs, while others meandered aimlessly. He knew that though there were many, well-traveled paths, they led to no good end. He knew that a few paths led to good pasture, water and safety, i.e., the “Right Path.” His inspiration continued: He guides me along the right path (Psalm 23:3).

Jesus’ enemies recognized Him as “a man of integrity.” In modern vernacular, “Jesus, Walked the Talk and Walked the Walk.” His journey (peripateo) left a telltale trail/path of  integrity.

Peripateo, the Greek verb “To Walk,” is also translated: to make one’s way, progress, make use of opportunities, behave, conduct yourself, lead one’s life. In essence, it is not about the action of putting one foot in front of the other. It is about building a reputation, leaving a trail, wearing a path. A walk of integrity produces the “Right Path.” The “Right Path” of the Good Shepherd/Great Leader is the path that demonstrates integrity.

Peripateo is about best practice choices in life and leadership that lead to best outcomes. It is about “best practice” from a Christian perspective.