Integrity has nothing to do with the choices I make when in the sight of others. It has everything to do with what I choose to do when no one is watching.
Before moving away to attend college, I was employed as a waitress at a small restaurant near my home. I was given a lot of responsibility, and the managers trusted me to fulfill my duties each night. Not once did it ever cross my mind to steal money, products, or anything from the business. That was just plain illegal, and besides, what if I was caught? No, it certainly wasn’t worth it to ruin my reputation.
One night as I was closing the dining room, I thought about not completing a certain task I was required to do. After all, who would know? If I told the manager on duty I had done it, she would have believed me. She never would have even checked. Really, who would ever know? I would know. God would know.
So it was a moment of truth. Time to make a choice between slacking off and my integrity. Integrity? Was it really my integrity that was at stake? Yes! Dependant upon my decision, I would finally discover whether I am the person others perceive me to be, the one worthy of their trust, respect and love. I would find whether I really believe what I say I do, that there is a separation between right and wrong that exists in private as well as public. Otherwise, I am just a hypocrite.
If I were to give up my integrity for the sake of something so miniscule, I could never respect myself again. How could I ever trust myself to make right decisions in the future?
I want to believe I am at least the person others think I am. I will follow my conscience.
As I completed the task, I was at peace with myself, happy that I chose to do the right thing. Who would have thought that the simple act of sweeping under the booths could restore one’s faith in one’s self?
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.