The following is an excerpt I wrote for the Every Man’s Bible (which I highly recommend) about having integrity.
The great thing about integrity is that it is truly no respecter of position or wealth or race or gender. It is not determined by shifting circumstances, cultural circumstances, or what you’ve previously achieved. From the moment you are born, you-and you alone-determine whether you will be a person of integrity. Integrity does not come in degrees-low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you do not. However, there was one particular time that made me wish I had worked harder in the area of integrity.
In the Old Testament, Daniel was an adviser to King Darius. The other nobles in the kingdom were envious of his stature with the king and were committed to finding something wrong in him to bring about his downfall, “but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy” (Daniel 6:4, NTL).
We should live our lives like Daniel, so that if we ever had an FBI background check or a newspaper reporter digging into our personal lives, they would not only find no “dirt” on us but also find us to be honest and trustworthy. This was driven home to me when I was appointed to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. We had an FBI background check done on us, which included filling out a waiver to allow the search, and then being asked numerous questions like, “Have you ever been arrested?” “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” “Has your tax return ever been audited?” and so on. The final question really caused me to think: “Have you ever done anything that would be embarrassing for the president of the United States to be associated with?” I understood why they asked that question, but when I realized that I had done many things I wouldn’t want even my parents to be associated with, I wish I had worked a little harder in the area of integrity.
When it is all said and done, my reputation doesn’t matter. It’s important, but what others think of me is simply out of my control. What does matter, however, is what I think of me. My integrity. That is something I can control-by taking care of the little things, day in and day out, when no one is watching.
Because I am-and God is.