Archive for category Integrity
Last evening a commercial came on for Happy Campers, think Pillow Pet that zips into its ‘home”. At the end of the ad to a peppy tune, the seemingly hypnotized child’s voice sang “Happy Campers make everything better.” While I am sure that Happy Campers add a bit of stuffed animal fun to life, I seriously doubt that they make everything better.
In our world filled with noise and words clamoring for our attention and our funds, these types of claims become more and more hyperbolic. Recently after visiting our branch bank we received a call to ask about our experience. As the questions proceeded the bank representative said “Could you imagine a world without our bank?”
Yes, as a matter of fact I can. Having moved as often as I have I don’t tend to exude tremendous bank loyalty. Yet, after the call I was astounded of the bank’s self importance and desire to give life to such a claim from satisfied customers like me.
In a world filled with noise we are all tempted at times to aggrandize a statement or two to get attention. We may do this so that what we have to share might break through the cacophony of sound that floods our age.
We may do this for a completely different reason. At some point we have felt the need to firm up our answer or add a bit more emphasis. “I really mean it this time.” Behind this assertion is the fact that in the past we dropped the ball or that we didn’t mean it last time.
“Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”* (Matthew 5:37) Jesus in His continual desire to not merely address our behavior, but the heart behind it, prompts us to consider our verbal responses. Any time we are tempted to strengthen our response we need to consider our motivation.
At times it is because we haven’t kept our word in the past. Why not? Sometimes it is because we have been unavoidably detained. Other times it is because we have said “yes” too casually, when our true setting was “no”, or maybe we have said “yes” to so many opportunities that there is no possible way that our schedules would allow. Either way we have a verbal integrity issue that stems from the heart.
Casual “yes” often means that we like saying “yes” to people. “No” seems so mean, unless of course you aren’t going to follow through on your “yes”. Often this stems from not caring enough for people to tell them the truth, but selfishly offering “yes” to appease ourselves in the short run. With a heart that is too concerned with people pleasing casual “yes” quickly erodes our verbal integrity.
The “yes” to everything can stem from inability to really assess our time or a covetousness heart that wants to do it all. In the fullness of God’s love we for us we are entrusted with limited time. This time constraint necessitates prioritization, seeking first, so that we can do the things that are most important. “Yes” to everything can be a desire to live outside the bounds that God gives us as stewards of our time. Filled with the hunger to do it all, we schedule three things as once and realize that one of the things we can’t do is be counted on.
In a world of noise we all need people who we can count on. “Yes” may not ring with the bravado of our culture, but there is true blessing in consistently maintaining verbal integrity.
Thanks for reading,
Ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner is hoping that someone will do something really bad–newsworthy bad, so that the scandal-loving press will leave him alone and let him attempt to rebuild his life. That’s my guess, anyway. No, we’re not going to bash Mr. Weiner. First, we’re not inclined to do that. Second, it’s been done ad nauseum.
Public and Private
But Mr. Weiner’s “situation” brings to mind a key element of character: Integrity.
He was one person in public and quite another in private. He espoused one set of values and principles when the cameras were rolling, but seemed to leave many of those values and principles at the office. I wonder how often I do that? How often do you do that?
A Different Person with Different People
How often do I portray one set of values publicly, but then leave them in the car before I go inside my home?
Do you do that? I know I have.
It’s natural to have some differences when in private. We’re more relaxed, more at home. We’re not “on.” We lounge in our grungy shorts and favorite T-shirt with the sleeves torn out at the elbows that your wife would love to get rid of but you’ve made it clear that she’s never to touch that beloved garment (sorry, a little stream of consciousness leak).
But we’re not talking about that kind of difference. We’re talking about differences in what we claim in public and who we are when nobody’s looking. Do we live out in private what we profess in public? Are we kind to our co-workers but dismissive and rude to our families? You get the idea.
Integrity isn’t about being perfect in some rules-based, moralistic sense. Attempting to achieve that will make us crazy, and will makes us really awful people to be around.
Integrity is about wholeness, about the elements of our lives fitting together with a sense of continuity. It’s about being the same essential person in public and in private.
This is what I want: wholeness, not perfection–consistency throughout. The temptation to be “on” when in public, to put on an image for the crowds is tremendous for many of us.
What I Need
I’m not strong enough to get this wholeness on my own. I need to be close to a power greater than my own to make it happen. I need grace, the grace of God. And, I need good friends–people who’ll love me and even, at times, put up with me.
What do you need to have wholeness, to have integrity?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this.
Thanks for reading,