“Hey, you wanna jump on the beds?”
“I thought your mom told you not to?”
“Ya, but she’s outside.”
“I had my fingers crossed behind my back.”
“Isn’t that kind of dishonest?”
“Not when you’ve got your fingers crossed!”
“I don’t know about that. It still seems to me that you’re lying.”
“Well, no matter, she won’t catch us.”
“You can do it if you want, but I’m not gonna. I don’t want to get in trouble and I don’t want your mom to think I’m dishonest.”
Nothing is more important than our integrity and yet how often do we compromise it. A little fib here, a little deceit there, a little act of treachery thrown in for good measure. No one will notice you say … well, perhaps no one except your conscience!
Nothing reflects and affects how we feel about ourselves more than our integrity. When we do something inappropriate, regardless of whether anyone else knows, it affects us.
Integrity, simply defined means, doing the right thing when no one is watching. It is about behaving in an appropriate manner, through our thoughts, words and actions, no matter the situation or the company we keep. It’s about being truthful. It is about always doing what is in our highest good.
Integrity is among the highest of virtues and without it, we have no credibility.
The above scenario depicts two boys, alone in a house, one who is acting with integrity and one who clearly isn’t. If something was to go wrong, the second boy would be in a heap of trouble. He’ll worry about getting caught. He will be stressed trying to figure out how to fix the situation or get away with it. Eventually, guilt will catch up with him and his self esteem will take a beating.
The first boy, on the other hand, has nothing to fear. He chose to do what’s right. He kept his integrity intact and as a result, feels good about himself.
When you act with integrity, you have credibility. People can trust you. You have a solid reputation. It demonstrates that you have values and that you hold those values close to your heart.
When you act with integrity, you have a clear conscience. You can sleep easy. You don’t bring worry, guilt or shame into your life. You contribute to a positive self image.
When you act without integrity, well, the damage can be severe. If you are a church that hides pedophiles, if you are a government that misinforms its people, if you are a corporation that produces harmful substances for an uninformed public, if you are a parent who makes promises to your children that you don’t intend to keep, or if you are a pillar of the community, but beat your wife behind closed doors, or if you simply gossip behind someone’s back, then you have little or no credibility and your integrity is literally ‘shot-to-hell.’
People are human. We are prone to lapses in integrity, just like we are prone to other lapses in judgement. We lie, cheat and steal. We hurt others. We try to get away with things. But ultimately, we are our own judge and when we do things that we know are inappropriate, that we know are harmful to our integrity, we damage our self image. We don’t feel good about ourselves.
There are, of course, grey areas. Is it appropriate, for instance, to exceed the posted speed limit when there are no other cars (especially police cruisers) in the vicinity? Similarly, is it appropriate to run that red light when no one else is at the stop light, especially after you told your teenage children to always obey the law?
The question is, how will you feel … in your heart? Will you feel guilty? Will you worry? Are you prepared to deal with the consequences in an appropriate way, should something go wrong? “Yes officer, I know I was exceeding the speed limit, but I really didn’t think I was hurting anyone … and of course, I wouldn’t have done it if I had seen your car parked behind those bushes!”
The other question is, how does it affect others, even when they’re not there? If your spouse, for example worries about when you’re out, are you really not hurting anyone when you take chances?
Saying one thing, then turning around and doing the opposite is called hypocrisy, and to my knowledge, hypocrite aren’t known for their integrity.
At the end of the day (I can’t believe I just used that expression) sometimes the only thing we have left is our integrity and credibility. These are precious attributes, not worth giving up for the sake of jumping on the bed!
Have an awesomely honest day!