I was speaking to a room full of about 175 Jr Hi kids, this was before the term “middle school” became vogue, and the question I posed was, “What would it be like for you to tell nothing but the truth for the next 48 hours?”
That meant no subtle twisting of the facts, no avoiding the question, no little white lies and no “I was just kidding”‘s. Interestingly only about half the kids were willing to take on that challenge.
I was closing the meeting in prayer and asking that God put each kid who was taking on the challenge in at least one situation where it might be uncomfortable for them to tell the truth. Just as I was getting to the “amen” someone, somewhere near the front, let one go. It wasn’t a huge rip but it was loud enough, and the room was quiet enough that everyone heard it. (For those still unsure as to what I meant the kid passed gas, queefed, had flatus, farted, etc.)
With the ‘n’ of the amen still resounding in the room, eyes starting to look up , and snickers being painfully if ineffectively repressed throughout the crowd I simply said, “Ok, I hate to ask but, who did it?”
One little seventh grade guy, about three rows back, eyes wide in terror, slowly dropped his head and raised his hand. The room exploded in a mixture of interesting laughter.
Some of it was just what you’d expect from a Jr Hi audience, that mocking tone delivered at another person’s demise. But some of it was a sort of relieved laughter. They’d seen someone take on the challenge and their laughter was part relief that it wasn’t them and part pity on the kid in the spotlight. But some of it, to these kids credit, was actually congratulatory laughter. They had seen their friend in the worst possible timing come through with flying colors!
Integrity is, in one sense, adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, or honesty. But in another sense of the word it is simply wholeness. Allow me to suggest that in terms of how we live integrity can be said to be the level to which our actions are consistent with what we say we believe…wholeness.
You may not hold to the same set of moral standards that I do but if you live out what you claim to be your moral standard to the same degree that I live out mine we are equals in terms of integrity.
So here’s the little test, you’ll need to write these down:
1. Without thinking too deeply about it, first things that come to mind, make a list of the 5-10 things you hold as your most important beliefs or values. Go.
2. Without thinking too deeply about it list 10 people you are around on a consistent basis. Only 3 can be intimate friends or family.
3. Now next to each name write the number of items you think that person would guess correctly from your first list.
Done sincerely it’s an interesting exercise. Did you list “spending time with family” as important? Would your colleagues at work have picked that? Did you list honesty? Would your kid guess that after watching you do your taxes?
If you want to take this to the extreme create a multiple choice list that includes twice the number of items you picked in part one and hand that out to the people listed in part two and see how you fare.
There is a crowd watching. Some want to laugh at you, some want to laugh for you, and some want to laugh in celebration of you. The more consistently we live the larger the third group grows.
Did you take the test? How do you think you scored?