Integrity: Adhering to moral ethical principles; soundness of moral character, honesty.
I was about 10 years old when a man came to my house to do business with my Dad. They talked for a long while, then walked out to the car. They shook hands, and the man left.
“Daddy, why did you shake hands with that man?”
He replied, “We were doing business and came to an agreement. When gentlemen shake hands, it means we will keep our word, our promise to each other.”
Later, I would see those same principles in the Bible. Psalm 101:2 “I will walk with a heart of integrity in my own house.”
How does that play out in real life? It means always telling the truth. If I agree to go to a party with someone, then a better offer comes along, I don’t lie and get out of the first offer. If I am supposed to be at work on Friday, I don’t lie and call in sick, so I can have a three day weekend. I don’t run a stop sign just because I don’t see any other cars around. I don’t go over the speed limit just because I could get away with it. I turn on my car signal when making a turn even if I’m the only car on the street. I return the shopping cart to the designated area. I park between the white lines, not taking up two spaces. I don’t park in “Handicapped Parking” because somebody else might need it. If a store clerk forgets to ring up a product, I let them know. There is no glory in “getting away with it.” That just shows low class and a bad upbringing. People are watching!
When I was at Highlands High School, sitting at the last table in the Library, doing some research, I was flipping through a magazine when I accidentally turned the page and it ripped. Oh no! I glanced around; no one was looking. I could just put the magazine back, and no one would know it was me. I thought a moment then knew what I had to do. With a big sigh of resignation, I got up from the table and went to the clerk.
“I’m so sorry, but as I was turning the page it accidentally ripped.”
To my surprise she responded, “Yes, I know. I was watching you. I want you to know I’m very proud of you. Most students would have just tried to hide that. I saw you hesitate. I’m glad you made the right decision.”
I mumbled a thank you and went back to the table. I was so glad I had made the decision I did. At any given moment, on any given day, multiple times a day, we have to make decisions that could effect the rest of our lives. That split-second decision between right and wrong? It’s a matter of integrity! ■
— Loraine Joy is a small business owner and Arbuckle resident. Contact Loraine at firstname.lastname@example.org.