Lessons in Integrity #11

As a first grader, I watched my teacher, Mrs. Kay, use a tool shaped like a very small crow bar to pry up thumb tacks. One day I took her thumb tack puller (it probably cost all of five cents) When my mom saw the puller, she asked if Mrs. Kay knew I had it. I admitted she did not know. My mom took me by the hand back to Mrs. Kay’s class room where I had to tell my teacher what I had done and return the tack puller. I was in tears. I remember Mrs. Kay taking me up on her lap and giving me a big hug…while reminding me never to steal anything again.

I was the Associate Pastor of a large church when I heard a staff member tell a secretary she would be getting a raise when he returned from his vacation. While away, the secretary’s old car broke down. She asked me if she could count on the raise – it would affect the car she bought. I confirmed that she would receive the raise. When the staff member returned, the secretary did not automatically receive the raise. She went to the staff person, told what had happened and that she needed the promised raise. The staff person denied he had made the promise. I went to the staff member and again he denied he ever promised the raise. Since I was the person who told the secretary she could count on it, Sally Jo and I gave her the amount needed until, several months later, she received the raise.

George Clark was a good friend and the CEO of the second largest bank in Dallas. While at a gathering in the Clark’s home I overheard someone tell George he understood the federal bank examiner was coming to Dallas to check out the banks there. When I asked George if he was concerned, his said “Why should I be?” George Clark was man of integrity.

I personally knew a camp director who drove large, sometimes overloaded trucks of building materials up to the camp. He knew the road to camp very well, and I was told that if the truck was over-loaded he would get off the main road so he could go around the weigh station on a back road. When I asked the camp director about this, he said it was true, but that in the Lord’s work it was sometimes necessary to do this to reduce transportation costs. His lack of integrity disappointed me

As the result of these, and other experiences, I have worked to live above reproach and often said at DL “do what is right – every time” and “never do anything that you would not like published on the front page of a news paper”

I told the DL staff that if they said I said something, I would accept their understanding as being true. I was determined that no staff member would ever be able to think I had been dishonest. In my 23 years as the DL Director I believe only one person took advantage of my promise.

Before I became Director of DL there was no annual audit. I insisted on DL having an annual CPA audit. I told the Board of Directors that if I had made mistakes, I wanted to know about it. I could accept the auditor or DL Board telling me I had made a mistake…but I did not want them to ever be able to say I had been dishonest.

At the end of camp, during the final sharing/communion service, Garret Larsen said he had learned “integrity” that summer at DL. I am certain Garret already understood integrity. His summer had underlined the importance of integrity. Garret is now the Director of a camp in Texas. There is no question in my mind: Garret is a man who lives and leads as a man of integrity.

I remember the words of a Billy Joel song….”Honesty is such a lonely word”.

“I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity” — I Chronicles 29:17

If we are going to Live In Partnership With God, we must accept the on-going challenge of Integrity.

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