I spent a lot of time, working on my "New Year Resolutions," this year. I began working on a "detailed" list, of things I want to do, achieve, and become, in the year, 2009, weeks before the, actual, holiday.
I really took the task seriously, this year. I asked myself all the hard questions. I searched my heart, and prayerfully, sought the things that really matter, to me, in life. I considered the mistakes of my past, and I accepted responsibility , for every one of them. I forgave myself, and "resolved" to let them go, and move on with my life.
This year, I determined to change my ways, and "align" myself, with truth, and wisdom, so that I may begin to travel down the road of peace, happiness, and success, rather than continue down the road of turmoil, discontent, and poverty, that I have traveled, for so long.
Life is passing by, quickly. Who knows how long we have left, to live, to love, to make things, right ? Our time could be up, at any moment. The time to take action, is now, while we still have the opportunity, to do good things, in life, and to make a positive difference, in the world around us, and in the lives of others.
I divided my "resolutions" into several different lists, each dedicated to a different area, and time-frame, of my life. I read over them, daily. I adjust them, as needed.
It has been said, that, "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. " I have decided to start "charting" my future, rather than continue drifting down a lazy river to, "wherever. however, and whenever. " I want to live a life I dream of living, not one that has no direction, or purpose, at all.
About 8 years ago, something was said about me, that I have never forgotten. It was my brother, who said it. He told our mother, that I had no integrity. At the time, I was living foolishly, and those who cared about me were feeling, concerned, and disappointed, about the choices I was making in my life.
If he had said something mean, untrue, or malicious, towards me,, it wouldn't have bothered me, much. I would've just thrown something back, at him, in some way. But what he said, made me have to stop, and think. It stopped me in my tracks. I wondered, "Why would he say THAT ? " A person doesn't say something like that without a reason. Perhaps, it is true. Or. at least, in part.
The seed was planted, in my mind, almost eight years ago. I have never forgotten those words, spoken by my brother. I know that they were spoken, out of love, and concern, for me. They were never meant to hurt me. They were "sent," to, hopefully, enlighten me. I have always understood that.
Almost eight years later, the seed that was planted, in my mind, has traveled down from my head, and sprouted, into my heart. The word, "Integrity," is no longer just a word, in my vocabulary. It has become a personal, "characteristic," I, deeply, wish to acquire. So much so, that, I developed my whole, "New Life Plan," around it.
Above every other goal I have set for myself, this year, I resolved that I wanted to become a person of exceptional, integrity.
Integrity, has become a word that many use, "loosely," these days. Everyone claims to have it. People incorporate the word into their business names, wanting us to believe they operate at a "higher standard" than most others. But, do they, really ?
Integrity runs deep. The more I consider it, the more I have come to realize, how deep it really runs. We may have a fairly, decent "degree" of integrity in one area of our lives, and have almost none in another. My goal is to become a person who walks, and lives, with integrity, in every area of my life.
In order to do this, I figured, the first thing I needed to do, was to really seek out the "definition" of what the word, Integrity," really means. I was pretty sure I knew what it meant, but I wanted to be sure. I wanted a clear, and precise, understanding of what kind of person I desired to become.
According to the "Oxford American Dictionary," the word, "Integrity," is defined as, (1) moral uprightness, honesty. (2) Wholeness, soundness. Another source defined the word, "Integrity," as meaning, (1) An undivided or unbroken completeness. 2) Totality, with nothing wanting.
Recently, I finished reading a book written by Pastor Joel Osteen, entitled, "Your Best Life Now: 7 steps to living at your full potential. " Pastor Osteen dedicates an entire chapter of his book to discussing the qualities of Integrity and Excellence. In that chapter he states that his father was a man of exceptional integrity. He tells a story, he recalls in his father's life.
One day, in the height of his career, (as a pastor of a very large church, Pastor Osteen's father ordered a tailor made suit from a local tailor. He agreed to pay for it, on credit. Very soon, after ordering the suit, his job required he relocate to another part of the country. It was a very hectic time in his life. He forgot all about having ordered the suit from the man. Many years later, it came to his recollection. He remembered he had ordered the suit, and never paid the tailor, as he had promised. It bothered him deeply. He could not rest, until he made it right.
First, he tried to call the shop where he had ordered the suit. He found the shop was no longer there. The owner had died, and the business closed. This really made him feel sorry, for what he had done. He didn't stop there. He started looking through the phone book for anyone with the same last name as his, former, tailor. He was determined to find a living relative of the man, so that he could make restitution.
Finally, after making dozens of calls, he located the son of the man who had owned the tailor shop. He told him what he had done, and he apologized for it. He asked the man for his address, and immediately mailed him the money he owed his father. He not only sent the money he had borrowed, but several hundred dollars more, to cover the interest of the loan.
Pastor Osteen's father has since, passed away. But to this day, he speaks of him with the greatest respect, and admiration. "My father was a man of great integrity," he claims. What an honorable legacy, and a great example, to leave behind, to one's son.
In the book, Pastor Osteen tells another story of a good friend of his. He tells the story of a man who was exceptionally, successful at his job, as an advertising executive. He was so successful in fact, that he was offered a much higher paying position, with a much larger firm.
Pastor Osteen went on to explain that his friend was always one to give his very best, at whatever he laid his hand to do. He always showed up to work early, and stayed late. He always gave more than what was expected of him. He was a top notch, professional, in every sense of the word.
The smaller company, that he was presently working for, was sad to be losing him, but happy for his promotion. They knew he deserved it. They wished him the best.
After giving his two week notice, it was expected that he would slow down in his "enthusiasm" towards the company that he was leaving. They no longer could compete with what the other company had to offer him. Basically, it was assumed, he was just putting in his "time" until he was free to leave, on good terms. It was the right thing to do.
To the smaller companies surprise, Pastor Osteen's friend became more committed to the success of their company, than ever before. He came in even earlier, and stayed even later. He produced his very best work, ever, and inspired every person he came in to contact with. He gave no thought to his greater post ion, forth coming. He was totally committed to the company he was with, until the very last minute of his employment with them.
Everyone wondered, Why would he work so hard for a company he is leaving ? They asked him, "Why are you so committed to us, when you have such a better opportunity in the waiting ? He replied. "If I allow myself to slack off in my performance today, I will not be blessed in my performances tomorrow. My success tomorrow, depends on my integrity today. "
Integrity means doing the right thing when no one else is looking. Integrity means doing the right thing, even when you won't get the credit for it. Integrity pays the price "now," for a better tomorrow. In every situation, integrity chooses the way of righteousness, wholeness, and completeness. It leaves nothing lacking.
Have I mastered the ways of integrity, since putting it at the top of my list of resolutions, for the year 2009 ? No, I haven't. But I am aware of it, now. In every thing I do, I stop and ask myself, "Is this the right thing to do ? Am I acting with integrity ?
Now, as I start to throw a bubble gum wrapper, on the ground, I stop, and think about what I'm doing, and then I put it in my pocket. When I begin to tell a lie, or spread a rumor, or say something that I shouldn't, I stop myself.
doing the right thing, in this matter ? " it doesn't matter how I feel about it, or what it's going to cost me, anymore. It's all a matter of whether or not it's the right thing to do. That's what's important to me, now.
I believe, with, "Integrity," a great life can be built. Without, integrity, our lives will surely fall short of all we hope for. This is why I have placed, becoming a person of integrity, at the top of my list.
Of course, I hope to reap the benefits of living a good life. A life of moral uprightness; a life of undivided completeness; a life of totality, with nothing lacking. But, that is not what is most important to me. I want to leave behind a legacy, as Pastor Osteen's father did. A legacy for my children, and family to proclaim, with pride. I want to leave them with the honor, and the ability to proclaim, "In the later years of his life, my father, my brother, my son, became a man of great integrity. You could bet your last dollar, whatever the occasion was, he would always choose to do the right thing. "
This is my lifetime resolution, beginning in the year 2009.
M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.
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