This evening, I read a post on social media that stood out among my scrolling. It read: “No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all. Integrity is everything.”
Integrity is something one builds over years of being trustworthy, honest, and doing the right thing even when others are not looking. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa about doing the right thing anyway, being kind anyway, succeed anyway, be happy anyway, do good anyway, give your best anyway. The entire quote is one to research and recite often.
Being human, sometimes we messed up our integrity by forgetting a promise, or letting wrong moods, motives or attitudes control us. Years ago, I told a friend I would do something for her daughter who was not a church attender at the time. It was an act of kindness I had in my power to do, but forgot. It meant the world to this friend that I would minister to her needy daughter in such a way. But, I forgot in the business of my day and many people with many needs I was responsible for at the time.
Bottom line, my integrity was shot in this particular friend’s eyes. She was disappointed and unforgiving at first. I did make it right with her daughter, and went to this friend’s house and stood in the snow for about an hour till she opened the door.
Last week, I moved into a city neighborhood. This particular house has been a house of ministry for a couple decades. Children meet in this home weekly for the “Good News Club.”
A Bible teacher meets the children each week with games, a Bible lesson and snack right after school. Children and parents are more familiar with my home then I am at this point.
Upon opening my front door to leave for work Monday morning, I noticed a little pair of girl’s boots with blue shoelaces. They were slightly worn, but in good shape. They were about the size of a three or four-year-old’s feet. I did not understand the gift. After a text, I was informed that items would periodically show up on my porch to be given to others.
The little girl probably outgrew the boots before they received much wear and tear. The child wanted someone else to have a nice pair of boots. She wanted to give to another. Her parent probably knew the house as one who gives to others. Why not just take them with other collected items to the nearest “Salvation Army Store”?
The reason had to be married to the little house’s reputation as a trusted home of safety, ministry and compassion to the poor by the people who have lived and worked out of this home over time. My house has a reputation of integrity among its neighbors. As I stared at those little boots, I felt a solemn responsibility as one who now lives in this home. I sure do not want to be the one to ruin years of built integrity to a community.
This New Year is our year to shine with hope, to do what is right in spite of any adversity. We can overcome our shortcomings with God’s help and live lives of compassion, love, and forgiveness. I hung those little boots on the inside of my front door for now, to remind me little eyes are watching to see if I am trustworthy, if my words are good and my heart kind. Many eyes are upon all of us.
Values For Living was written by the Rev. DeVon Davis, Heartland Hospice Chaplain.