Back in high school I was in ROTC and one of my least favorite things to do was shine my brass and my shoes. I was good at it, so good I won a personal appearance medal for it. I learned early on that if you want a good shine you had to start with a good base - the brass had to be free of any scratches or rough places and the shoes needed to be free of creases around the toe box and heel. No matter how hard you worked if the base wasn't solid then the shine would never be right. Once you got a good shine I would protect it by using gloves to put my brass in place and putting my shoes inside a pair of socks before packing them into the closet.
Over the years I have learned the same principle applies to other areas of my life, one of which is integrity. You must have a solid base to build from and once you get a good 'shine' you must do everything you can to protect it.
Integrity is not something you can buy, sell, trade or attain by means. Integrity is more than just doing what you say or being honest in your dealings with other people. It is doing so in such a way - and consistently over time - that it garners not even a 'hint' of a blemish.
How important is integrity?
In the book the Millionaire Mind Dr. Stanley says that Millionaires rated integrity [being honest with all people] as the number one factor that explains their economic success. Don't miss that, number one factor. When asked to expound upon that Jon, one of the respondents and a wealthy entrepreneur said, 'Never lie. Never tell one lie'. Others went on to explain that is was a 'hyper sensitivity' to being truthful. To almost go out of the way to be upright when you speak, have business dealings, buy, sell, trade or barter with anyone.
As a man of faith there is an additional layer when it comes to this issue. Not only do I call into question my integrity if I don't 'protect the base', but I actually damage or discredit the God I serve. I damage my witness and place yet another roadblock to faith for someone else.
Proverbs 21:3 says, 'To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice'.
Proverbs 11:3 says that the integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
So what does integrity look like in real life?
Many years ago a man I knew was selling his car, we'll call him Tim. The car had some miles on it, but was basically in good shape. He sold it to another man, we'll call Lamar, who was buying it for his daughter. As the two men talked about the car the conversation turned to life, faith, God and country. Tim wasn't shy about saying he was a Christian after he was asked and Lamar seemed to appreciate that fact. Soon thereafter they came to an agreement and the car was sold.
The very next day Lamar called to say his daughter was stranded in a parking lot with a dead alternator. Lamar would take care of his daughter but wanted to know if Tim knew where he could take it for a replacement. Tim suggested a place and even agreed to meet Lamar there to get things started. Tim also knew that he wanted to do what it took to 'protect the base' so he got to the repair shop early and pre-paid for the fix. No, he didn't have to do that, but as Tim told me, 'my integrity is worth more than a new alternator'.
That is Integrity. How's your base?