Monday, February 13, 2012

Old School Integrity

I wrote this down shortly after my dad passed away:

One characteristic that I think truly defined my dad was integrity.  I found his authentic and consistent honesty remarkable, and whenever I shared with others about my dad, I usually mentioned it.  I think most people found it refreshing, while at least a few who had a mind to cheat on their taxes found it shocking and convicting.  (My dad was a CPA)   And, I know I was certainly convicted over the years. 

One time in high school – I was probably 15 or 16 years old.  I was falling behind on some homework, slacking off really, and I needed to get caught up.  I borrowed someone else’s homework, one of my friends,  and was sitting in my room copying answers page after page.  I had the door closed, and I was making good time.  My dad came in to my room, and I must’ve flinched something serious and he knew right away something wasn’t right.  I tried to tell my dad it wasn’t a big deal, and he told me the story that my brothers and sisters and I have heard at least 20 times each.

We call it the “nail story” and it’s blessed our lives, so I’m gonna pass it on to you. 

When my dad was 8 or 9 years old, a house was being built down the road from where he lived.  One day –could’ve been a Sunday, might’ve been after hours - no one was around and he wandered over to the work site.  Looking around, he noticed there were tons of nails all over the place, in the dirt, on the ground.  He spent some good time gathering all the nails he could find and filled up a whole coffee can.  “Score” he thought as he walked home with his treasure.

But my grandfather had a different take.  “Is that your house they are building over there?” he asked him.  “no sir.”  Is that your construction crew working on that house?”  “no sir”  “Is that your land, was that your dirt that you found those nails in?  Was that your property?”  “no sir”.  Then, those aren’t your nails.   You didn’t pay for them.  What you did is called stealing, and stealing is wrong.”    The next day, my grandpa walked my dad down to the site where he apologized for stealing and handed the foreman that full coffee can of nails. 

That was old school!

Our dad learned that just because you find something doesn’t  mean it’s yours, and just because you can get something for free doesn’t mean you should.   He consistently taught us that just because you can do something the easy way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way.   Truthfulness, honesty, integrity matter. And they are good.

Jesus said, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” and by God’s grace, my dad really did.    

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