What in the world has happened to integrity?

Integrity is becoming lost in a world that sadly lacks it but seriously needs it. Simply put, integrity signifies honesty, morality–an unimpaired condition. C. S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”  But, even when people are watching, honesty seems to be low on some people’s list of values.

On a recent trip to Oklahoma, I rented a car at the airport. The rental company gave me what seemed to be the last vehicle available. That in itself should have been a red flag, because the car had a bad tire–which they reluctantly changed. A few days later, as I traveled through a small Oklahoma town, I was pulled over by the police who informed me that the tags on the car were expired. After the officer called for back-up, they proceeded to search the car–including my suitcase–thinking I might be a drug-runner. An hour later, satisfied that I was not a smuggler, they let me continue my trip.

“But,” I asked, “What if I’m pulled over again before I can turn in the car?”

“Just explain that you were already pulled over and released,” the officers responded. “Then settle it with the rental company.”

When I returned the car and told the employees what happened, no one apologized. In fact, no one even seemed surprised that they had leased a car with expired tags. I requested some sort of compensation, but they said the best they could do was give me a direct number to their manager who, not surprisingly, has been unavailable.

Needless to say, this company has been removed from my list of car rental options. Although the prices are attractive, their lack of integrity isn’t worth saving a few dollars. If only their manager(s) had shown a little more veracity and at the very least took ownership of their wrongdoing, this article would have a more positive spin.

How do you and I measure up when it comes to integrity? Here are three ways to assure we are have a high moral standard:

1. Readily admit when you are wrong – Taking ownership of a wrong-doing, even if it was a mistake on your part, will go a long way toward reconciliation. Do it quickly. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to make amends. If you find it difficult to readily admit your errors, it may be a sign of lacking integrity.

2. Compensate when necessary – If you owe money to someone, take the high road and pay up. It’s a small price for a clear conscience. Where a clear conscience is missing, honesty will not be found.

3. Verify before taking action –  When the police discovered the expired tags on my leased car, they called the rental company to to give them a chance to explain themselves. Unfortunately, the manager insisted the tags were up-to-date. The information from the Secretary of State’s office, however, indicated otherwise. By the time the officer approached me with the problem, he had done his homework and was certain of his findings. We should do the same. Verify, don’t assume. Making decisions without knowing all the facts can be disastrous.

King Solomon said, “[The Lord] is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints” Proverbs 2:8. Doesn’t it give you a tremendous sense of security knowing God Almighty is guarding your path? If you walk in integrity, you won’t have to worry about driving a car with expired tags.