Recent events have me thinking about integrity–what it means, how it applies in daily life, and whether or not it comes easily to us. We define “integrity” as ” the quality of being honest and fair”. In other words, it means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. As a Christian, I know that Someone is always looking but everyone, believers and non-believers alike, are capable of integrity.
When I was in the military, I learned as a young airman that the Air Force motto is, “Integrity first, Service before self, Excellence in all we do.” Hooyah. But what does this mean exactly?
It might be easier to understand integrity first by exploring the behavior of someone who showed a lack of it. Currently, the 2016 Summer Olympics are coming to an end. The US swim teams have seen more gold bling than Cleopatra, yet I feel that as an old woman, I will be just as likely to remember the scandals as much as the gold-winning moments.
Unless you don’t have internet or a television, chances are you have heard of the discreditable behavior involving Ryan Lochte. I won’t even bother posting the links because it’s all over the web. Basically he lied about being held at gunpoint while partying in Rio with his teammates. He later admitted to still being under the influence of alcohol when he posted his now famous tweet regarding being held at gunpoint. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many medals he won at the 2016 Summer Olympics…what we’ll remember is that he admitted to not being honest. Lack of honesty is a lack of integrity.
One of the more painful stories is one involving the highly respected “deadliest sniper in American history”, Chris Kyle. I had not known of Chris Kyle until Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of him brought him to life onscreen. I saw this man, who was willing to die for his compatriots and country, as one full of honor and integrity who died at the hands of a druggie.
Unfortunately, this hero was knocked off his immortal pedestal when he was stripped of several medals he claimed to have earned during his career in the military. Even worse, he was not alive to take the heat: his family is.
I’m not pointing fingers. Our Lord knows that I have lied, cheated, and stole in my lifetime. I am ashamed of my behavior in more instances than I care to count. Every day is a challenge for me…most times it’s a hit, but sometimes it’s a miss.
As we sprint, stroll, or plod through life, we need to remember to that in order to have strength of character, we must do what’s right no matter if someone is watching or not. The mark of true integrity is to be absolutely honest, no matter what…no matter the cost, humiliation, or reward.