We are living in a time when “truth is fallen in the streets.”
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Take a few minutes to read the first chapter of my book, “Integrity – The Last Great Battle.” Let me know what you think.
CHAPTER I – INTEGRITY INTRODUCED
Integrity is defined in the Oxford University Press dictionary as, “(1) the quality of having strong moral principles. (2) the state of being whole: the condition of being unified or sound in construction, internal consistency or lack of corruption . . .”. This leads us to understand that it is the quality of being honest and morally upright as well as the state of being whole, complete or unified.
On Saturday, February 1, 2003, at the end of the 16 day mission, the Columbia Space Shuttle broke into pieces. The sixteenth day, just sixteen minutes away from landing, all seven of the astronauts died. This tragic event took place, quite possibly, because an individual, or a group of individuals, did not maintain the integrity of the mission.
The lack of integrity is what I call, “The Tile Effect.” During the short mission seven men and women from three nations rode the Columbia into the sky. They would see the creation of God from a perspective that most will never have an opportunity to see. Their goals were noble. The youth of their respective nations saw them as heroes and heroines, role models of the highest order.
Their well being, their very lives, rested in the hands of the ground crew. Oh, they had their part to play, but only mission control could see what they could not see; a piece of foam, frozen solid and caked with ice broke off and hit the wing. It was reported as a small thing, “nothing of any significance.” This was something that had happened before and caused no problem. Just a few tiles broken; a few heat tiles missing. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to pay any attention to.
Really? That was the wing where the problem began. What was the problem? Well, it was reported that nobody paid any attention to the monitor camera that would have told the story. Someone didn’t think it was important enough to fix the out-of-focus camera. Just a small thing in the midst of a big mission. Right?
Oversight? Complacency? Laziness? Who will ever really know? One thing is sure. Seven are dead (Not to mention that the billion dollar Columbia Space Shuttle is gone). What a waste of tax payer dollars.
Could it be “the tile effect”? A few small tiles missing in an area where the heat of reentry would damage critical systems? Would a higher degree of mission integrity have made a difference? We have seen the outcome. Now we wait to hear the explanations, or will they be excuses, simply forgotten as they are kept out of the public eye?
All of the information that might shed light on the cause of the disaster has not been released in detail complete enough for a final analysis. One thing is sure: No one wants to admit that they might be responsible, even in part. None-the-less, because of the actions, or lack thereof, of one or two people on a highly skilled, qualified, brilliant and gifted team, all had to experience the agonizing result. All watched their monitor screens in horror and unbelief as Colombia and her crew vaporized in the heat of reentry.
Another launch took place July 26, 2005 and the re-entry was successfully completed August 9, 2005 at Edwards Air Force Base in the Southern California desert, capping a 5.8 million mile journey, albeit only after extensive in-space repairs were completed on the heat shield tiles that protect the vessel and its contents from the searing heat of reentry. Had these necessary repairs not been carried out properly, the mission would have ended in yet another disaster with it’s resultant loss of life.
Corporate scandals, like Enron, World Com, and many others, along with shady home loan practices that have sent our nation into an economic turmoil have signaled the great need to resurrect integrity in the market place. Situational ethics reign. No one seems to be willing to take responsibility for error, but everyone wants to profit at the expense of others. Unfortunately, real life ethics can be seen in the following short story that my daughter recently sent me via email called The Donkey and The Raffle:
A city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.” Kenny replied, “Well then, just give me my money back.” The farmer said, “Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.” Kenny said, “OK then, just unload the donkey.” The farmer asked, “What ya gonna do with him?”” Kenny, “I’m going to raffle him off.” Farmer, “You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!” Kenny, “Sure I can. Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he is dead.” A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, “What happened with that dead donkey?” Kenny, “I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898.00.” Farmer, “Didn’t anyone complain?” Kenny, “Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.” Kenny grew up and eventually became the chairman of Enron.
We live in a society that has lost its moral moorings. It appears as though the business owner no longer feels any obligation to care for his employees. Nor is there evidence that many employees feel a responsibility to be their best for their employers. It would seem that moral values have become lost in the personal agendas of an ever devolving quagmire of self-serving, self-aggrandizing, self-profiting, self-promulgating and self-promoting cadre of leaders. By leaders, I might here mention that my understanding of the word comes from author and speaker John Maxwell who says, “leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less,” and the definition found in the Oxford University Press, which states that a leader is “a length of filament attached to the end of a fishing line to carry the hook or fly.” I in no wise attribute the quality of character one might expect of true leaders to those who live the current fad of situational ethics. They are not only like reeds blown in the wind but are baiting others to take the hook of destruction that is tied to the rod of correction held by those offended, and more importantly, by the only “Righteous Judge.”
Our society is permeated with what appears to be a double standard of ethical norms of behavior. Our thinking appears to be suffering from breaches in the integrity of sound logic. This generation has found itself embracing corrupt unionism to forcibly extract unnecessary dues to be unjustly used to pursue political power while setting aside sound biblical teaching that establishes a set of rules of consideration for employees and employers in the market place:
Imagine what kind of work environment it would engender if workers were “obedient to those who are your physical masters, having respect for them and eager concern to please them, in singleness of motive and with all your heart, as [service] to Christ [Himself]” (Eph. 6:5 AMP). Add to that the commitment of business owners and CEO’s to “act on the same [principle] toward their employees and give up threatening and using violent and abusive words, knowing that He Who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no respect of persons (no partiality) with Him” (Eph. 6:9 AMP). These admonitions carry extremely sound advice that give integral structure to the marketplace and are repeated throughout the Bible that so many have attempted to remove from the consideration and esteem of this community called humanity.
The Book of Colossians advises workers to:
Obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not only when their eyes are on you as pleasers of men, but in simplicity of purpose [with all your heart] because of your reverence for the Lord and as a sincere expression of your devotion to Him. Colossians 3:22 (AMP)
To those in charge it is repeated, “[on your part] deal with your [workers] justly and fairly, knowing that also you have a Master in heaven” (Col. 4:1 AMP). Each of the following verses found in the time tested Scripture deal with integrity in the marketplace:
Let all who are under the yoke as bond servants esteem their own [personal] masters worthy of honor and fullest respect, so that the name of God and the teaching [about Him] may not be brought into disrepute and blasphemed. Let those who have believing masters not be disrespectful or scornful [to them] on the grounds that they are brothers [in Christ]; rather, they should serve [them all the better] because those who benefit by their kindly service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. 1 Timothy 6:1-2 (AMP)
[Tell] bond servants to be submissive to their masters, to be pleasing and give satisfaction in every way. [Warn them] not to talk back or contradict,
Titus 2:9 (AMP)
[You who are] household servants, be submissive to your masters with all [proper] respect, not only to those who are kind and considerate and reasonable, but also to those who are surly (overbearing, unjust, and crooked).
1 Peter 2:18 (AMP)
There is a “tile effect” that is causing a melt-down in society as the heat and pressure of a life that considers following biblical mandates to be archaic and therefore to be set aside to make room for self-serving motives. The resulting collapse of corporations, the loss of the space shuttle, and yes, even the utter destruction of nations inevitably follows the breakdown of moral integrity. This, in fact, is what brought about the world-wide economic crisis that began in the year 2007. What starts as a small, seemingly insignificant oversight or deception begins a domino effect that eventually destabilizes everything, and everyone, near or connected, to it.
The slightest lie, oversight, deception, postponement, or lapse of attention, will eventually bring about a catastrophic event. There is no escaping the fact that we do reap what we sow. “Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; . . . For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap” (Gal. 6:7 AMP). These considerations have been the catalyst that brought me to the place where I felt the need to address what appears to be a critical need for a revival of integrity in this and succeeding generations.
As we consider this subject I would like to ask a couple of questions that I have had to ask myself: How is your spiritual “camera”? How much attention are you paying to the “mission”? What small thing have you overlooked in this critical mission called life? In what situation did you look the other way? Was your integrity breached? Were you unable to stand for what is right? Were you unwilling to pray? Were you unwilling to take the time to intercede? What will your “tile effect” (the principle of sowing and reaping) bring to your life and to the lives of your family members, friends or team? How many will die? What will be lost? Who will be lost?
Put yourself in the following scenario and think about what you might do in a similar situation:
A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.
He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” “The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a SEED today – one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown.
After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.
Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.
Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.
Six months went by–still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however.
He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened.
Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful–in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO.
“Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”
When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!
His name is Jim!” Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed.
“How could he be the new CEO?” the others said. Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today.
But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers.
When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
If you plant hard work, you will reap success
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation
If you plant faith, you will reap a harvest
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.