Integrity, love, and faith were the legacy of my father. Integrity is a sorely lacking trait in our world. Politicians, businessmen, educators, even some in the ministry handle the truth like a novel where the readers write their own ending.
“Do the right thing and you’ll never have to apologize,” my father drilled into us from an early age. Right wasn’t some nebulous concept based on popular perception, convenience, or individual circumstances. Daddy saw the world in black and white when it came to right and wrong, truth, and lies. The harshest punishment meted out in our home resulted from the failure to be honest and kind. Although, his honesty was questioned at one point.
As if it were yesterday, I remember men in business suits gathered around our dinner table when examiners from the insurance company where my father was an agent came to investigate some missing money. As a high school student, I was aware of the tension that buzzed like electric current under the surface of the conversation. These men had the power to take my father’s job and forever change our family.
A few days prior, Daddy explained that a large amount of money was missing from his office. A secretary who moved out of state embezzled from premiums paid in cash, crediting only partial payment to the customers. She couldn’t be held accountable because she couldn’t be found. The men combed through records for days to ascertain my father’s innocence.
In order to set things right, he repaid every cent. I learned that integrity and reputation are treasures to be guarded and cherished. He believed Proverbs 22:1 and expected his children to live the same. “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
Sometime later, my father located his former secretary. Though she never repaid everything, he accepted partial payment and forgave what almost cost his reputation. Daddy’s mercy and grace provided a powerful example on how to treat others. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11) By the same token, he expected nothing less from his children. Our most severe punishments stemmed from lies.
Because of his example, my father’s teaching on integrity colors my attitude to this day. Honesty is not an option but a necessity. As King David prayed, “I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there.” (1 Chronicles 29:17 NLT)
A Father’s Legacy
This mindset is uncommon in our world today. How different our world would be if people treated each other with integrity and mercy. Mudslinging and lies would vanish. Justice would be assured. We could trust those in power because clear principle, humility, and gentleness would be their hallmarks. All people would receive fair treatment in spite of skin color, socioeconomic standing, or educational level.
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children…” (Proverbs 13:22) I was privileged to be raised by a man who left a legacy of faith, love, and integrity. Likewise, I rejoice when my children display these traits. May we, as Christians honor our Lord in the current climate of societal unrest by treating others the way that honors our heavenly Father.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9
© Norma Gail Holtman, June 10, 2020