“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey
A few weeks ago, I walked out of my office headed to my car and saw some paper on the ground; it was off to the side of the door in our small grass plot. I said to myself, “The wind will just blow it away.” Then I said, “Ok well I’ll just pick it up tomorrow.” But something in me wouldn’t let me get in my car, and just drive away. The way I started to feel, you would’ve thought a dumpster had been knocked over and trash was everywhere, but that wasn’t the case. . . it was a few pieces of paper, and I couldn’t ignore them. I put my bag in the car, grabbed the papers, went back inside the office and placed them in the trash can. And then I was like, wait. . .that was a test of my integrity. Because until right now, nobody would’ve known whether I picked up the trash or not. And even though I didn’t receive a thank you, or a pat on the back, that small act made me feel so good on the inside. The warm feeling I felt was more rewarding than a thank you would’ve ever been.
That small situation caused me to take a closer look at my level of integrity. It caused me to ask myself why do I do the things that I do. Is it because I want to be noticed or get some type of acknowledgement? Or, am I doing things because I know it’s the right thing to do? With integrity, the motives, the words, and the actions all go hand in hand. Now, I’ll admit, I try my best to do the right thing when it counts. But see, that’s the problem, I feel like I should always strive to do the right thing no matter the situation, whether someone knows about it or not. I wanted to be 100% sure that my motives were always in check, so I mentioned it during one of my prayers.
Well let me tell you, EVERY day since then, I have had to pass an integrity quiz before the end of each day. I am starting to notice that more and more. Big tests, small tests. . . life is throwing them at me left and right; and I’m getting better and better. I can no longer just talk the right talk, I am being placed in situations where I always have to walk the right walk. My actions are having to line up with my words, and in some cases. . . that is much easier said than done. And the pressure has been unbelievable, however I am appreciative for the lessons that are being taught. I learned a few years ago, what we say doesn’t make us a better person, but it’s what we DO that counts.
“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, but your behavior does.”
Something that I now say to myself to help keep me accountable: Do what is right, not what is easy. Listed below are some things that we can start being more conscious of in our everyday lives to help us on this journey of doing the right thing. Because we have to remember, even the smallest things count when integrity is involved.
- We should just put the shopping cart back in the designated area at the grocery store. Yes, it’s going to take 25 more steps to do it; however those 25 steps will prevent someone’s vehicle from getting scratched up by the cart.
- If we go into the bathroom and use the last bit of tissue, we shouldn’t leave the dispenser empty. We should get some toilet tissue and replace the roll, so that we don’t leave the next person in a bind.
- Christians, should act like it Monday through Saturday; not just on Sundays.
- If you are a professional, act like it. . .yes, even on social media.
- If you see trash on the ground at your church, or even your job, pick it up.
- If you see someone struggling to carry something heavy, offer to help, or at least hold the door open.
- We should avoid situations that will cause us to compromise our values & beliefs, or be dishonest.
- We have to keep our word, even if it takes the extra effort.
- If we’ve wronged someone, we should apologize and make it right.
- We should make necessary arrangements to show up on time, every time.
- We must be responsible, and do what we say we will do.
- We should tell the whole truth.
- Let’s start to willingly admit our mistakes, and then use those mistakes as opportunities for improvement.
- We shouldn’t let someone else take the blame for something we did.
- We should tell the cashier he gave us back too much change.
- We should never intentionally betray someone’s trust.
- We should return money that we noticed someone dropped in the parking lot.
- We should ignore the advice of people telling us how to cheat on our taxes and not get caught.
- We should go back in the store and pay for something that wasn’t scanned.
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” – Marcus Aurelius
We are quick to tell a white lie to get out of doing something; because come on, a small fib never hurt anybody. Or we will take few supplies home from work, I mean nobody is going to miss them right? I am a witness that everyday integrity is extremely challenging; however, the good thing is we get a chance to get better at it with each new day. And I know, taking a pen from work or lying about a headache to skip out on choir practice may seem small, however, Albert Einstein has a quote that says “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Over the past 3 decades I have found that quote to be true.
Living a life of integrity is sometimes hard, ok…scratch that, it is VERY difficult at times; however we must realize that it is necessary for our growth. We must always make the effort to take the high road, and do our best to do the right thing no matter what, while encouraging those around us to do the same.
I would be lying if I said it was a breeze because honestly, a lot of the times the shortcuts through the valley look better than the climb up the mountain. However, the one thing I learned about shortcuts is that you don’t learn anything. There are no real rewards at the end of the shortcuts; no pots of gold. We just have to take the climb one step at a time. My mother constantly says, “when you do right, right will follow you.”
Integrity is doing the right thing even when you don’t have to. . .
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one else is looking. . .
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one will ever know. . .
Integrity is doing the right thing when there will be no congratulations or social media shout out for having done so.
In order for great things to happen to us, we must always aim to do what is right, not what is easy.