Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Harold KellerL’Observateur / September 15, 1999

A message on a church bulletin board read: “The best legacy is integrity.”What exactly is integrity? It’s defined as state or quality of being complete, soundness, purity, honesty; uprightedness, moral soundness.

Integrity is something I’ve heard about many times but, honestly, had very little. We all know what a reputation is. That’s what other people think ofyou. Integrity is what you are – how God sees you. It’s something weexpect other people to have and, when they do, we admire its quality.

If I had to rate my integrity level 30 years ago on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the best, I may have registered a two, at the most. Tenyears ago, I may have gone up to a five. Today, stretching it a little, I maybe a seven. (Keep in mind that according to academic standards, seven outof a possible 10 is a “D”).

My greatest desire is to be a man of integrity. I pray for God to deal withme in this area. What more of a legacy could one leave their children andgrandchildren than being a person of integrity.

This being football season, I’m reminded of a story I read several years ago about a wide receiver from a small college. The young man was aChristian and always prayed for absolute honesty, regardless of the situation. (Honesty – a mark of integrity.)Well, as the story goes, while playing in the homecoming game, the young man ran a pass route in the closing minutes of the game with his team trailing. The quarterback threw the pass low. He dove, seemed to havecaught the ball, and the referee signaled a touchdown. The people cheered,his teammates celebrated, but as he got up, he walked to the referee and admitted that he trapped the ball. The touchdown was nullified and histeam lost. Wow! What integrity!Being a sports fan, I read about Ted Williams, the baseball player who was considered by some to be the greatest hitter of all time. He played withthe Boston Red Sox. At the age of 40, his salary was $125,000 a year, thehighest of anyone in baseball. That year, a neck injury forced him to playin a lot of pain. His batting average for the season slipped to .254, with 10home runs. (This was the only time in his career that he batted under.300.)The next year, out of respect, the Boston Red Sox organization sent him another contract with the same salary. Ted Williams sent it back with anote that he would not sign it until they gave him the full pay cut allowed at that time, which was 25 percent. He cut his own salary by $31,250. “Ican’t accept what I don’t deserve,” he said.

After hearing and repeating these stories, I realize that I have a long way to go if I’m to be remembered as a man of integrity.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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