Integrity in Difficult Situations

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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My husband and I once taught a Sunday School class of two-year-olds. Framed by a room of red, blue, and yellow, and toys and Bible pictures, the tots were a miniature paradigm of the grownup world. One toddler saw a boat, screamed, “Mine!” and grabbed it from a classmate. Plenty of adults would have the same reaction but show a little more sophistication. On the other end of the spectrum, I also watched a toddler offer a block to another child for no obvious reason.

Years later, I had returned test papers to my college students and reviewed the results in class when an attractive blond girl approached me and shyly opened her test paper. She pointed to a particular question. “You missed this one. I got it wrong.”

I said, “Do you understand the correct answer?” She nodded, and I said, “Then because you were honest, I’m not going to take off points.”

A father I know promised his little girl he would come to her birthday party that Saturday. Friday afternoon, his boss demanded that he attend an important meeting the next day at the same time. The man said, “I’m sorry, I have a previous commitment and I’ll have to be late,” and he went to his daughter’s birthday party.

My grandfather made and lost three fortunes before, during, and after The Depression. Instead of declaring bankruptcy, he paid all his debts, though it meant that he did not die a wealthy man.

In many, many marriages, one spouse receives a career opportunity too good to pass up. The other spouse accepts leaving the comfort of friends, activities, and job to follow the one with the call. Recently in our marriage, I received an opportunity to be a Research Affiliate at Yale Divinity School for three months. My husband has backed me wholeheartedly, though it sticks him with cooking, housework, and paying the bills.

The Old Testament example of integrity is the Ten Commandments. The New Testament example is the cross. Jesus had options. He could have run away. He could have lied. He could have defended Himself against the charges. He could have hired Judas to rally an army.

Instead, He went to the cross.

As we spiral up the mountain in our life journeys, the ideal of integrity drifts high above us like distant clouds—fluffy and vague with meaning. Through the grace of God, however, and in examples around me, I see what integrity means—and I see people who have touched the sky.

Questions for discussion:

  • How do you define “integrity”?
  • Can you think of an example when you or someone you know has been called on to show integrity in a difficult situation?