By Rev. Gary J. Blanchard
I neatly collected all of the papers that had accumulated on my desk, made a “to-do” list for the next day and stuffed it all in a drawer (I like to see a clean desk at the end of the day). Then I turned to my computer and began logging out of open programs. My home page is the St. Louis Post Dispatch website…and I did my usual last minute scan of the page. That’s when something caught my eye.
It was a quiz on fast food restaurants. As a veteran road warrior, I consider myself an authority on fast food restaurants, so I decided to take the quiz. As the page opened I found a warning written in big bold letters; “Warning – sounds accompany each answer, if you are at work adjust the volume now.” At first I found the statement rather odd, but upon reflection I realized it was a warning regarding integrity in the work place. They didn’t want to be responsible for someone getting caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing on company time.
Integrity is usually described in terms of morals or ethics. We’ve all heard the simple definition that says integrity is who you are when you’re all alone. But there’s more to integrity.
One of the best books I’ve read on the topic is “Integrity: the courage to meet the demands of reality” by Dr. Henry Cloud. He created an effective analogy for integrity in the workplace by describing it as the wake of a boat. Dr. Cloud believes you can learn a lot about a person by observing the wake they leave behind. He identifies two sides to the wake; tasks and relationships. In other words, integrity in the workplace has a lot to do with what a person accomplishes and how they deal with people.
What does the wake look like in terms of tasks? A perfect wake includes a mission accomplished. Goals reached. Tasks completed in an effective and timely manner. Creativity. Better systems and processes. A wave creating wake may look like a failed mission. Unreached goals. Incomplete tasks. Disorganization and chaos. Inactivity and nothing happening.
Results do matter. You can learn a lot about a person from their track record. Dr. Cloud comments, “When we look at results, the wake, we are really looking at ourselves and learning something about our character in the same way that the wake of a ship tells us a lot about the ship. The wake is the results we leave behind. And the wake doesn’t lie and it doesn’t care about excuses.”
The same is true on the people side. What are the results of our encounters with people? Have people grown as a result of being around us? Are they more productive? Are they stretched and challenged to go on to greater things? Did they learn from us and feel encouraged? Or do we leave people wounded? Less trusting? Feeling put down or cheated, disappointed or lied to?
Integrity touches every aspect of our everyday life. Luke 16:10 in The Message reads, “If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be honest in the big things; If you’re a crook in small things; you’ll be a crook in big things. If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store?”
Every now and then we need to look in the rear view mirror. What kind of wake are we leaving behind?
Rev. Gary J. Blanchard serves as Assistant Superintendent & Executive Secretary of the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God.