One only needs to be a sports fan to be faced with this question.
BBC ran an interview with Lance Armstrong. He essentially said, “I would cheat again, I would just treat people better.” Armstrong was famous for vehemently opposing those who questioned him.
In American football, the Super Bowl bound New England Patriots find themselves in a scandal. We give names to these common occurrences, this one labeled as “Deflate-gate.” It centers around evidence that the balls were deflated, giving the quarterback an easier grip. Years ago, the star quarterback admitted this preference for a slightly deflated ball. The coach has crossed the line in the past. Did they do it?
The endless stream of denials of athletes and famous people have taken on an unbelievable feel. “I knew nothing of this” means just that, nothing.
Especially from people who have done it before.
Steroid-laced baseball players who deny for their whole career only to tearfully confess later in life when the guilt of deceit becomes too great.
Of course we know the examples are not limited to sports. Headlines come from the corporate world, political arena, and perhaps the most damaging one, the church.
In South Africa, we see stories of CEO’s making excessive amounts while the infrastructure of the companies they oversee is in shambles.
As a parent, I attempt to build trust in my sons. We confront the sneaking of video games as an issue of trust. Our goal is not to control video game time, but to build honesty and integrity in our children. When the bigger issues come, we want to trust them, hopefully having less sneaking and hiding than we otherwise would.
What are a few things we can learn from the endless examples of broken trust and poor integrity?
1. Trust is built in small areas first.
We’ve been doing a number of home renovation projects lately. It is easy to see who you can trust and who you need to keep an eye on. It comes down to the small things:
- Are you on time?
- Do you seem like a sweet talker?
- Do you give the courtesy of basic communication when the unexpected comes up?
- Do you clean up after yourself?
Our faith in South African businesses has grown as we’ve had more good experiences than bad ones. There are good examples out there!
2. Cutting corners in pursuit of fame or success can lead to bigger issues.
What can seem like a small compromise, numbs us to greater ones. A small competitive advantage. A little bribe to grease the wheels. A financial compromise because “we deserve it.”
3. Integrity and doing the right thing is not our default response.
We will not naturally do this. We must recognize our weakness and propensity to mess up, trusting in others and ultimately God to help build this in our lives.
Has integrity become old-fashioned?
No. But we must work at it.
All the more when bombarded with poor examples. We CAN provide future generations with good models. I want this for my sons. We should want this for the church and our world. It starts with us.
Photo credit: Nat20_Film via photopin cc