The Integrity Challenge

“Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will.” ~ John D. MacDonald, The Turquoise Lament … 

Our integrity is unique to each of us, and something that does not blow with the wind–in whatever direction that it happens to be blowing today. It is the part of us that guides us in making decisions; that helps us to deal with other people fairly, kindly, and consistently; and that helps us to feel good about ourselves, our words, and our actions. Integrity defines our resolve and adds positive perspective to our character. And if we can come to understand our integrity–to know and trust it completely–we can share it positively with everyone we come in contact with.

Our integrity helps us to see the most appropriate and effective course, but only if we allow its influence to help us do what we know to be right. With integrity, if I make the decision never to lie to another person in any way, or never to cheat another person out of any money in any way, I know that I can stick to that promise no matter what kinds of decisions may present themselves to me in the future. Thus, if we allow it to do so, our integrity can guide us in all our decision-making.

And there are some who may reason that integrity–in respect to ethics and morality–is dependent upon situations and circumstances and is therefore conditional. They often times even convince themselves that it is okay to cheat someone out of money on certain occasions, if that person has done certain things or fits a description. But the problem with this is that cheating anyone else out of anything is ultimately a reflection of who we are, not of who they are.

And there may be certain circumstances in which our integrity is not at stake when we make decisions we do not like. We may have to make a bad decision in order to prevent something that is even worse. Yet at those times, when we know our integrity has faltered a bit, we will know in our hearts what is right and just, and we will deal with it on those terms.

One of the best examples of integrity in my life did not dawn on me for many years, was integrity in my faith. I had always stated that I loved God, and believed in Him deeply, yet seldom did I actually live out His commands–namely to love Him above all things and to love others. And therefore, when I finally came to realize this truth, my life changed immeasurably.

Being a person of integrity is not always an easy task–it requires one to constantly strive for consistency in conduct, actions, values, methods, measures, and principles. But if I am able to do so, then my actions truly match my beliefs, which is something that will add great peace, purpose, and value into my life.

Think of an inconsistency in your character, and then take a moment to reflect on how you may make it more consistent.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of situations may lead us to compromise our integrity?

How do you feel about yourself when you make a decision that you know to go against your vision of what is right and what is wrong?

Do you know anyone who considers integrity to be a conditional quality, depending on circumstances? Is that person leading a life you would want to live?

For further thought:

“Deep inside, our integrity sings to us whether we are listening or not. It is a note that only we can hear. Eventually, when life makes us ready to listen, it will help us to find our way home.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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