“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 (NIV)
As a young college graduate my first job was at a start-up company. I was given a hybrid position that included marketing and writing, which I loved, and answering the phones, which I didn’t love.
The owners promised my position would develop as the company grew. So I took the job and was happy to have it.
One of my bosses had a strong personality. She was smart, confident and aggressive. And very successful.
She was one of those people who never forgets a thing, with high expectations for herself and her employees.
Over time, both the company and my work level grew — but I still answered the phones. Eventually, it got to the point where I wasn’t managing things very well. I’d get great assignments, be excited to start, but then reality would step in and soon I’d be overwhelmed.
My boss was hands-on and often called me into her office for an update. I found myself dreading those meetings, knowing she’d be displeased with my lack of progress. I could feel myself getting anxious as I fell further behind.
And that’s when the lies started.
I offered responses like: “Yes, that project is coming along nicely,” or, “I’m almost finished,” and “Just waiting for a few more pieces of information.”
After our meetings, I’d frantically rush back to my desk to try and make my progress match the answers I’d just given.
At first I justified my replies as “half-truths.” Perhaps they were, if statements like “coming along nicely” and “almost finished” really meant “I’m thinking about starting any time now.”
Over time, the lies and truth became jumbled. Rather than face my procrastination for what it was, I’d always find something convenient to blame. In truth, I felt overwhelmed and put off hard projects.
I’d crossed a line of personal integrity that nagged at the edges of my conscience, but I felt helpless to change. Until one day my boss gave me another request: lie for her.
I couldn’t do it, and somehow mustered up the courage in my young, 23-year-old self to tell her so. Amazingly she didn’t fire me.
God used that experience to show me how easy it is to compromise my character. I so desperately want others to think I’m capable, that excuses and dishonesty can easily become a habit. Yet Proverbs 10:9 calls these “crooked paths” and warns against choosing them: “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”
This promise of walking securely is what my heart really wants. I might think I’ll find security in a job, approval by a boss or achievement of a project, but true security comes from walking in God’s ways and under His protection.
When I sacrifice my character for the world’s “security,” I’ll always be left wanting. But when my security is in Christ, the crooked paths don’t seem so promising.
Since that first job experience, I’ve had many opportunities to develop my character and many times when my integrity was tested. I wish my history in this area were flawless, but that would be a lie — which I don’t want to tell.
What I can say is the Lord has given me His Holy Spirit to prompt me when I feel tempted to speak false, misleading words. And He’s granted me His strength to face the consequences when I tell the truth about something I’d rather not admit. And glory hallelujah, God forgives me when I slip.
The whole struggle to be a woman of integrity has kept me humble because it reveals every weakness, which can be painful. Humility comes with a cost, but it’s a cost worth paying as it keeps me my heart in the right place.
My character is far more important to God than my career or accomplishments. With that in mind, I’m crafting my character, one choice at a time.
Heavenly Father, help me become a woman who walks with You in integrity. Help my heart feel secure in Your love so I’m not tempted to seek security elsewhere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)
Psalm 15:1-2, “Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.” (NLT)
If being overwhelmed has cost you bits of your character, you’ll appreciate Glynnis Whitwer’s book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How have you compromised your character to try and cover up a weak area?
Present that weak place to God, and ask for His strength to start crafting your character.
© 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.