Ponderings by Doug

Integrity means that your words have meaning. The Apostle Paul writes, “… am I like people of the world who say yes when they really mean no? As surely as God is true, I am not that sort of person. My yes means yes.” (2 Corinthians 1:17-18b NLT).

That is extremely important today because more and more we are surrounded by meaningless words. You can’t turn on the radio without an announcer yelling at you that there has never been a better time to buy a car. Infomercials hawk products that if you act now, they will throw in an additional dicer and mincer at no extra charge. 

There is a story of meaningless words about a high-level executive who traveled weekly for his job. Every Monday morning, he went through the same routine. He arrived at the airport early, picked up his Wall Street Journal, sipped his Starbucks coffee, boarded the plane in first class, and waited for his breakfast to be served. On one occasion, as he was glancing at the headlines, he lifted the cover off his bagel and saw this huge, ugly roach upside down on his bagel, legs still twitching.

He came unglued. Not only did the flight attendant hear about it, but the entire airplane could not help but overhear his ranting about the roach. He demanded the name of the flight attendant and the pilot and the caterer and their next of kin. As soon as he got to his first-class hotel, he wrote a letter on his impressive stationery to the president of the airline, issuing his complaint.

To his satisfaction, he received a prompt letter back from the president of the airline. It read: “I am terribly sorry about your unfortunate incident on our airplane. I take full responsibility. We have canceled our contract with the meal service, fired the flight attendant and the pilot, removed all the upholstery, and fumigated the entire plane. It will be out of service for the next nine months. I hope this is acceptable to you and that you will consider flying with us again. Signed …”

The executive felt pretty good about himself and the fear he caused in the airline until he noticed a sticky note absentmindedly left on the back of the letter from some secretary. It was from the president’s assistant and read, “Send this guy the roach letter!”

Do your words, do your actions have integrity? Does your yes mean yes and your no mean no?

What about in your business? Do your words have integrity? I remember a story about the boardroom in which the CEO felt the company had lost its focus. So, as an illustration, he wrote on the whiteboard, “2 + 2,” and asked the entire board, “Let’s get down to basics once again. What is two plus two?”

There was a mathematician on the board who said, “The answer is 4.” The vice president of marketing said, “I agree. The answer is 4, give or take a margin of error of 1 point.” However, the company CPA silently got up, shut the door, pulled the shade, and whispered, “What do you want it to equal?”

Can God trust you when you are alone with the door closed and shades pulled? Integrity means that you are the same person in or outside the spotlight, with or without the cameras running, standing alone or in front of the audience.

Integrity doesn’t mean perfection. Integrity means authenticity, consistency, and an undivided life. Do your words and your actions have meaning? Are you a person of your word? George Burns once said, “The most important thing in acting is honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

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