Bob Tamasy: Maintaining Integrity When Conditions Change

Monday, October 23, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
When we hear about integrity – especially the lack of it – what comes to mind? Many of us would think first of politicians. On both sides of the aisle. Neither side has cornered the market on this dismal deficiency. We also hear of scandals in the business world, so we’d have to add top executives to the list. Sadly, some members of the law enforcement profession get failing grades when it comes to integrity. This list could go on, but clearly, integrity should appear prominently on the endangered species list.

The question is, what is integrity? Consulting the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, I found several definitions: 1) “Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” 2) “An unimpaired condition.” 3) “The quality or state of being complete or undivided.” 

I have no quarrel with any of those definitions, and have also appreciated this very practical perspective on integrity: “Who you are – and what you do – when no one is looking.” Recently, however, I heard a definition that hits home when we consider the depths to which everyday integrity has fallen.
As speaker and writer Dr. David Jeremiah defines it, “Integrity is keeping a commitment after the circumstances in which the commitment was made have changed.”

Getting back to politicians, it seems we see this in action every day. They make bold campaign promises, yet once in office renege on their commitments. Either they never intended to keep those promises, or circumstances have changed so they feel free to disavow or compromise on their commitments.

In the work world, we see this as well: Commitments are made to secure a sale or win a contract, or assurances for professional advancement are given, yet later those commitments are forgotten – after circumstances have changed.

But integrity isn’t a matter that applies only to people responsible for major decisions. Our own integrity hangs in the balance every day. 

A simple example is what happens on the wedding day. A man and woman vow their love and eternal devotion to each other – before God, attendees at the wedding, and everyone who views their beautiful video capturing the special moment. And yet, statistically half of all marriages end in divorce, even among professed followers of Christ. Why? One big reason is simply that circumstances have changed. “Yes, we said, ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, richer or poorer,’ but we didn’t know it would get this worse!”

A parent promises to take Johnny or Joanie on a much-anticipated outing, but when the day finally arrives, they cancel because a pressing matter has come up. Then they further damage their integrity in the child’s mind by making another commitment they probably won’t keep. 

Someone asks us for help over the weekend and we promise to do so. Or someone asks us to meet them for lunch and we agree, setting the time and place. When asked, we had nothing conflicting. Then a better, more appealing opportunity comes about and we beg off the commitment with an excuse – we’re not feeling well, we forgot we had made a prior commitment, or some other rationalization. 

We’re approached to give financial support, perhaps to a missionary or an important church project, and make a promise to give. Later, however, circumstances change so we either cancel the commitment or drastically reduce it. 

We see a powerful example of the latter in the book of Acts, when a couple named Ananias and Sapphira committed to sell property they had and give all the proceeds to support followers of Christ in their city. “With his wife’s full knowledge, [Ananias] kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 5:1-2). 

The passage doesn’t explain why they did that. Maybe the property sold for more than they anticipated. Ananias and Sapphira reasoned they would still give what they had promised and keep the surplus for themselves. No one would be the wiser, right? The problem was, God knew. His response was drastic and dramatic. He took their lives, not because they hadn’t given the property’s full value, but because they had lied about giving the full amount.

Even in the early days of the Church, the Lord was underscoring the high importance of integrity. As Proverbs 11:3 declares, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” 

God demands that we be truthful and wholehearted in our commitments. Jesus said, as one translation expressed Matthew 5:37, “But let your word 'yes be 'yes,' and your 'no be 'no.' Anything more than this is from the evil one.” In other words, He’s saying, “If you’re not willing to keep a commitment, don’t make it in the first place. But if you make a vow or a promise, I expect you to fulfill it – even if the conditions in which you made it have changed.”

As we’re tempted to condemn politicians, business leaders, entertainers and others for their lack of integrity, maybe we need to take an honest look in the mirror. We can’t control the integrity of their actions, but we are responsible for our own.

----

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.

"Chaos Can Lead To Victory!" Is Sermon Topic At Middle Valley Church Of God On Sunday

St. Timothy's Church Presents Jazz Vespers Service On Jan. 27

David Worland To Be Speaker At Scenic City Women's Network Luncheon


Middle Valley Church of God, at 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announced that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, "Chaos Can Lead To Victory!" in the 10 a.m. service on Sunday. ... (click for more)

For the thirteenth year, a jazz vespers service will be held at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, this year on Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 5 p.m. Kathy Tugman and the David Walters Trio will perform, ... (click for more)

The Scenic City Women's Network will have its networking luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 24. The featured speaker will be David Worland. Mr. Worland, married to Sally and father to four children ... (click for more)


Church

"Chaos Can Lead To Victory!" Is Sermon Topic At Middle Valley Church Of God On Sunday

Middle Valley Church of God, at 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announced that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, "Chaos Can Lead To Victory!" in the 10 a.m. service on Sunday. Pastor Mitch McClure will lead the congregation in a time of worship, and prayer on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Sunday School classes are available for all age groups. ... (click for more)

St. Timothy's Church Presents Jazz Vespers Service On Jan. 27

For the thirteenth year, a jazz vespers service will be held at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, this year on Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 5 p.m. Kathy Tugman and the David Walters Trio will perform, along with Philip Newton (organ), Sue Ann Reinisch (flute), and Gigi Walters (piano). By now, many are familiar with this special service, structured around the lighting of a vesper ... (click for more)

Breaking News

City Council To Vote Jan. 29 On Contract To Finally Clean Up The Lupton City Mill Site

The City Council is set to vote On Jan. 29 on a long-awaited contract to clean up the Lupton Mill site. The contract with Wright Brothers of Charleston, Tn., is for $1,676,744, with a contingency of $150,000. It calls for the firm to complete the demolition of remnants of buildings remaining at the site along Mercer Street. The site will be "rubblized" and then material ... (click for more)

Askia Witherow Charged In October 2018 Murder Of Jacob Dakota Moore Of Apison

Authorities have charged Askia Witherow in the October 2018 murder of Jacob Dakota Moore of Apison. An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, the 10 th District Attorney General’s Office and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the arrest of the 39-year-old Ooltewah man. At the request ... (click for more)

Opinion

Don’t Trust County Attorney Taylor’s Gag Order

At this point, most of us are aware of the WWTA debacle on site selection and the half-baked planning for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road. There were also untruths given to the public about the basis or need for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road by WWTA. That, my friends, is offensive. Pam Sohn of the Times Free Press outed the WWTA’s false contention ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It seems there has been quite an increase in calls from telemarketers and I asked my man Cleo if he had any idea how to stop them. “What works if you are male -- Telemarketer: "Hi, my name is Judy and I'm with XYZ Company. " You: Wait for a second and with a real husky voice ask, "What are you wearing?" If you are a female try this: Cry out in surprise, "Judy? Is that you? Oh my ... (click for more)