“The integrity of the upright guides them . . .” – Proverbs 11:3
When we first started working together I was immediately impressed by my new colleague’s work ethic and intellect, two critical ingredients for being a successful business person. In addition, after hours he often spent evenings meeting with a group of business partners involved in an outside venture of investing in commercial real estate. Given all this, his work ethic, discipline, and brilliant mind, I was convinced this new work colleague of mine, was destined to become a wealthy man. And did I mention he was also a really good human being who loved his family and had lots of friends?
Then suddenly, almost overnight it seemed, just as he and his investment partners were on the verge of making a killing on their holdings, the commercial real estate market collapsed, leaving them with nothing except debt up to their eyeballs. Seeing no way to pay it off his partners chose to simply walk away, leaving their lenders holding the bag. My colleague disagreed, choosing instead a different path and parting ways with his partners. Rather, he felt bound to fulfill his debt obligation (there is a reason it is called a “promissory” note, so he believed), which as it turned out took him most of his remaining working years to pay off, besides sacrificing his chance to become the wealthy man he had once dreamed of, and as I had predicted he would. But through that sacrifice he gained something far more admirable, proving himself to be a man of great integrity.
As the Proverb states, “the integrity of the upright guides them,” implying that those who desire to live honestly make choices based on what is true rather than what is expedient. So, while my colleague’s partners chose the expedient route by leaving the lenders holding the bag, my friend chose what was true by upholding the promises he had made.
Integrity – not only is it the right way to live, but it also offers a better life. Consider my colleague, always a jovial fellow, who over the many years I have known him seldom mentioned his misfortune, although it must surely cross his mind from time to time what might have been. But for him it was a bump in the road about which he made the right choice, one that provided peace of mind, and a good life for he and his family.