LIFE IN THE ZONE

Today’s Prayer to Passage comes from the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul’ by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubrey, and Nancy Mitchell.

I pray, “Dear God, I am aware of the areas of discipline that I am to apply to my life. What is your guidance toward following everyday integrity, even in the smaller seeming positions such as paying bills and making overdue appointments?”

I held the closed book in my hands and opened it to page 216. This is the passage that arrived in answer to my prayer:

“A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city and attached the following message to his windshield: ‘I have circled this block 10 times. I have an appointment to keep. Forgive us our trespasses.’
When he returned to his car he found this reply attached to his own note, along with a ticket: “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I lose my job. Lead us not into temptation.'”
—BITS & PIECES

Upon reading today’s passage, I am immediately reminded that integrity is saying what we said we would say and doing what we said we would do. If we fall out of integrity, we can honor our word by acknowledging the impact this has had. For example, when we are late to an appointment, we do not need to apologize. We are afforded the chance to say something like “I acknowledge that I said I would be here for the start of this meeting and I did not keep my word. And the impact this has had on you today is that my being late has been an interruption to your schedule and a disruption to the flow of this meeting. I will keep my word to be on time for appointments.”

The traffic officer in this illustration was staying within integrity, even though the minister was not. The minister did, however, honor his word by acknowledging that he was not keeping his word. By honoring his word when he had not kept his word, his integrity remained intact, but his impact was to “tempt” the traffic officer to not keep his word. Yet there was a happy ending. As we witnessed, the traffic officer kept his word. In the end, the minister was out of integrity.

Integrity is a tricky topic. We encounter challenges to integrity daily, multiple times. I have been meaning to make a dentist appointment for months but have I done it? Nope! See how easily that happens? The dentist appointment is on my to-do-list, it’s certainly something I want to check off as complete. Yet there it sits with a massive blank box.

In response to the passage in regards to my prayer, even when others are out of integrity this does not pardon our ride on that bandwagon. Discipline takes effort, yes, and it can be stressful at times. Well, it can be stressfull often! But there is a simple fix to all of this. Grace and honor. Grace in knowing that we all fall out of integrity every single day in some area of life, and honor in the freedom to acknowledge the impact on others when it happens, and to clean it up.

“I acknowledge that I am late. (No apology.) My lateness has inconvenienced you and caused you irritation, which could negatively impact the rest of your day. I did not keep my word.”

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