One of my favorite questions I ask while getting to know someone is, “What has been your greatest experience during your time working at x company?” I asked that question of one of my neighbors last night, a wonderful man approaching his 90th birthday.
He hemmed and hawed a bit, but he shared how he had placed a Christian statue in front of his office. Stretching back in to his mind 60 years ago, he talked about how he had dedicated his business to the Lord and knew that his ultimate accountability was not to man, but to God. His statue was a bold and prominent display of the godly values he lived in his paper manufacturing business.
As I dug in a little deeper, he shared that his favorite value was integrity. It was one of those things that was so critically ingrained in his being that he didn’t even think about it anymore. “We always did the right thing,” he shared with confidence. “I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror knowing that we did the wrong thing.”
“One of our biggest customers was a bakery in the Mid-west. We realized we over-charged them by $10,000. We just sent them a check. They called us up and said, ‘What the #$*! is this?’ We told them the story, and they worked with us for the next 40 years.”
Warren Buffett summed it up this way, “Integrity, intelligence and energy. Hire someone without the first, and the other two will kill you.” Thousands of years before Buffett, Moses penned the following in Deuteronomy 25:13-15:
Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. 14 Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. 15 You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. 16 For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.
Anyone who consistently lives a life for the Lord, pursuing righteousness and honesty, will live a life of meaning and purpose. Healthy relationships are more important than money, fame or power, and God uses those relationships to bring true purpose to our lives.
When I was about 22 years old, my neighbor gave me some tools. Among them was a $200 engine hoist that he purchased from Costco. I worked for Costco, and knowing their return policy, I eyed a two hundred dollar “reward” for my find. With a bit of trepidation, I hauled it off to the store for my bounty.
Several weeks after the refund, I brought my store manager the $200 in cash and asked to give the money back. I ran out of justification for my action (hey, if they don’t want to give me a refund, they wouldn’t give me the money). It may seem strange, but this was a defining moment in my adult life. I had to make amends… I hoped for mercy and prepared for the potential loss of my job. I told him the story, handed him the cash and asked for forgiveness. His response was, “Are you kidding me? Do you know how much guts it takes for you to do this? Keep your money and don’t do it again.”
I Samuel 12:1-4: Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. 2Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”
Acts 20:32-35: “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Do what you say, say what you do, do the right thing.