(Originally posted December 5, 2018)
You may get a laugh out of this. Every time I hear the phrase ‘man of integrity’ my mind wanders off into the silly world of radio commercials. Several years ago, radio stations would play a commercial called, “Real Men of Genius.” The ads for Bud Light beer would celebrate an unsung job like, Mr. T-shirt Launcher Inventor and Mr. Basketball Court Sweat Wiper Upper; or recognize a man who was taking too bold of a stance like, Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer and Mr. Really Really Really Bad Dancer.
These humorous ads were popular, and I for one would turn the radio up any time one would come on because you never knew what was coming.
The thing about the ads that stood out to me was that even though these jobs were unsung, the ones in those positions were heralded as heroes. The ads were laced with reasons to be proud of who you are, in whatever you do. Mr. Major Highway Line Painter could be proud of his work, “Michelangelo had the Sistine Chapel, Da Vinci had the Mona Lisa, and you, you got Route 22.”
Yes, the ads were basically saying, ‘you work hard, you deserve a beer,” but the idea of finding the good in your job probably helped people appreciate their jobs a little more. Well, that and I bet they sold a ton of beer.
What is Integrity?
When we enjoy our jobs, we work harder at them. As a result, we are recognized for our performance and hopefully are rewarded. How you treat your job is part of what integrity is all about. We know you work hard when you are being watched, but what about when the boss is not around? Do you hold yourself to the same standards? That is integrity.
It is what we do when no one else is watching. It applies to more than just our job. Integrity can be seen in how we treat our spouses, our children, and whatever form of service we engage in.
Displaying Integrity in our Jobs
In our fast-paced, get ahead at any cost, society, integrity is a lost art form. There is a double standard that exists when it comes to getting ahead. We paint within the lines when we absolutely have to, but the first opportunity that comes along we find the shortcuts to make our agenda advance.
Often, we do not consider what or who we knock down in the process. We take shortcuts to promotions, to happiness, and to fame. If we still see someone using caution when heads are turned, we laugh and point, telling them they will forever be stuck where they are at. Shaking our heads, we move to the next rung on the ladder of life, leaving the man of integrity behind.
The sad part is, that in how society works. These shortcuts often lead to success. But, you must consider the cost of taking these actions that lack integrity. Matthew 7:12 teaches us that we are to treat others as we expect them to treat us. This is what is known as The Golden Rule. One of the first verses I memorized as a child.
The message that stuck with me was that if I wanted to be treated well, I needed to treat others the same way, if not better. This is effective across the board. With your jobs, with your relationships, and with life in general. If you stab people in the back, you will get your back stabbed eventually. If you honor others before yourself, you will be eventually honored. Maybe not to the level of renown, but you will feel better about the person you have become.
You can choose the road to a successful life by stepping on others, or you can pave the road to inner success with words and deeds that uplift your employer and coworkers. Money and accolades are empty in the end anyway. Only a life of integrity can truly fill the sense of purpose that people seek. Having people look at you in a positive light can help you in the long run. You will have the love and support of those you have helped, instead of the malice and disrespect of those who you manipulated and overlooked on your path to prosperity.
You can be quick to be successful and hated, or you can let time and hard work reflect who you are and be loved. Yes, we are an impatient race. But in all reality, who is the real man of genius here?
Displaying Integrity with our Actions
The year was 2011, the sport: football. The man gaining spotlight, a well-known rookie named Tim Tebow. This successful Florida Gators quarterback made his presence known on the field. In college as well as the NFL. But he would not be remembered for what he did between the lines. It is what he did on the sidelines, in what we know now as ‘Tebowing.’ It is a phrase coined by a fan who had photographed Tebow kneeling on the sidelines and praying.
Tebow was vocal about his faith. He was not ashamed to publicly give thanks to God. He is quoted in 2012 saying, “Regardless of what happens, I still honor my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, because, at the end of the day, that’s what’s important, win or lose.” So, win or lose, you could find #15 kneeling in the end-zone praying to God. It was not a flashy display of ‘look at me, I am a Christian.’ It was a humble act that his heart was convicted of doing.
The media did not see it as such. They were quick to point out that he was wrong for doing what he was doing. They called it moral grandstanding, and media outlets consistently mocked his faith. Even a Saturday Night Live skit was created mocking the beliefs he held. There were even sports commentators upset that he was thanking God first, over his offensive line. Yet, game after game, trade after trade, there was Tim Tebow, remembering who is really in charge.
Now, the situation is not just one player kneeling in prayer; we have whole teams taking a knee. Although, not in prayer, but in so-called protest. It is claimed that they protest social injustice and racial biases. This coming from men playing a game for millions of dollars and advertising contracts that make even more money. They talk about how their race is being held back and the government should do more about it, and until change is made, they will kneel. They kneel not in thanks and appreciation; it’s in what they feel they are entitled to.
The media is not shunning these men, as they did Tim Tebow. They are holding them up on high in support of their right to protest. You know who is at odds with it, the fans. It’s not that fans are not supportive of racial equality, they are tired of the display of disrespect. The media continue to praise the kneelers for their bold stand, the same media that ridiculed one man for his display of religious beliefs.
I am confident that Tim Tebow is for race equality. His thought is that any display of beliefs must be expressed in the right way. For one thing, Tim Tebow puts his money where his mouth is. He is consistently using his voice, and money, to help others. He is walking with integrity. The words he speaks are reflected in his actions. How many of those that kneel go to the inner-cities to help those they say they are kneeling for? Yes, I know there are a few, but the number of kneelers and the number of those actually trying to help others are very different.
To stand, or to kneel in this case, for equality is the players right. I have gone over that in a previous entry. However, it’s like Tebow says, beliefs need to be expressed in the right way. To take a group of people and give them help and hope through God is honorable. To take that same group of people and point a finger of blame at someone for their current conditions is not.
Living a life of integrity is about speaking life into people. Using love as a springboard to convince others into doing good themselves. It is not spreading hate and animosity, even if the other party is truly at fault. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King said those profound and applicable words.
We must allow integrity to infiltrate our lives in all that we do. The double standard of it being wrong for someone to speak their faith, while it is okay for someone else to protest an injustice, must be reconciled. At the same time, it takes a real man of genius to realize the difference and know when the time is right to take a stand, as well as the proper forum to take that stand in.
Tim Tebow: a real man of integrity.
Displaying Integrity in our Marriage
Vice President Mike Pence has gone on record of saying that “he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.” Although that quote was from 2002, an article on Karen Pence, his wife, in a March 2017 issue of a major newspaper brought that quote to light once again. What came out of it was an immediate firestorm against VP Pence’s convictions.
Every mainstream news outlet ran with the story. Each with a headline, not praising Pence for honoring marriage and respecting wife, but denouncing his actions as racist, gender-biased, and misogynistic. The flurry of voices accusing him of hurting the women’s movement through gender discrimination was spelled out in bold type.
They all bashed him for his Christian values toward marriage. One article even called it illegal. The overall theme was that he was wrong for not allowing himself to be alone with another woman.
Fast forward to November 2017. What are the major stories across the media? Men in prominent positions are being accused and revealed for their sexual harassing behavior. These men, behind closed doors, have made advances toward women (and toward some men… but that is a whole other story.) We can’t scroll through a news feed without another man’s secret antics being brought to light. It is a sad world we live in when the sanctity of marriage, and even the sanctity of how a woman is to be properly treated, is disregarded by men who clearly lack integrity.
With these recent stories in mind, look back on how Pence treats the relationship with his wife. The one thing we know is that he will never find himself on the receiving end of an accusation like this. His stance is not only about keeping temptation away; it’s about avoiding the appearance of impropriety. He is heeding I Thessalonians 5:22 that says, “Abstain from every form of evil.”
His actions are those of a man with integrity. He loves, cherishes, and honors his wife. Love, honor, and cherish: The part of the marriage vow that has been forgotten. We should praise, and better yet emulate, our Vice President’s actions. This is a model of what marriage should be. He is one of the real men of genius.
Mike Pence: a real man of integrity.
There are too many double standards in life. The do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do mentality needs to be dealt with. God has called each of us to live a life of integrity. Titus 2:7-8 teaches us, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
A life of integrity begins with the concession that there is a higher standard. And in living up to that higher standard, knowing that you cannot do it alone. You need a higher power to achieve a higher standard. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the means of being able to truly live a life of integrity.
When we try to do things in our own strength, our humanness takes over and we fail. When we surrender to a the Lord to help us in reaching a higher standard, win or lose, we will achieve success.
When we began, we stated that integrity was how you acted when no one else was looking. Well, there is one person who always has an eye on you. You can never hide anything from Him. What goes on behind closed doors and the ulterior motives we have are known to the Lord. And it takes that motivation to live a life of integrity. And it takes a real man of genius to realize the changes that need to take place in order to live that upright life.