Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Maintaining Your Integrity at Work

I know of two men who worked for the government for most of their adult lives. Both achieved high positions of authority because of their honesty, integrity, and planning skills.

Both worked for bosses who were known for ruling with an iron fist; who often had subordinates terminated for virtually no reason. Yet both men continued to maintain their personal integrity, and even though the rest of the people they worked with played the political games and other things that go on in government, they did not.

Now, these men didn’t have what we might consider an easy time of it. One of them was working for another high government official as that man’s chief of staff, when he was falsely accused of rape and unjustly sent to prison. After spending a few years there, he was finally pardoned and received a special appointment to a high government position dealing with management and distribution of food supplies.

The other man became an important government official after performing a special service for the head of the national government. He later survived a major political change of power within his government in which his boss was terminated and a new boss installed. The new boss recognized this man’s skill and kept him in his high position of authority.

During the tenure of his second boss, this man was even bounced out of office and was supposed to be terminated because his political enemies got his boss to enact a law they knew he would violate. He was later vindicated, restored to his former position, and his foes and their supporters were terminated.

Who were these two men who give us an example of how we are to work at our places of employment, many of which are often filled with political gamesmanship and internal wheeling-and-dealing?

They are Joseph and Daniel, two of the foremost characters of the Old Testament. Both became the equivalent of the prime minister to the king in the nations of Egypt and Chaldea (later Medo-Persia), respectively.

So what does this have to say to us? That regardless of what may happen to us or around us at our places of employment, we are to be characterized by integrity, honesty, and forthrightness. We need not approve of the actions of our bosses or co-workers, but we must not behave in a manner that gives them any opportunity to justifiably accuse us of improper acts or omissions.

This does not mean that we have to be obnoxious, difficult, or hard to get along with in our dealings with our supervisors, coworkers, and the public. Rather, we should be known for being honorable, considerate, and generally easy to work with. However, we must never compromise on the standards of truthfulness and integrity. Even when we are false accused, those standards must never be neglected.

Remember, someone may take away your pay, they may even take away your job; but that will have no impact on your standing with God, and most of the time, it will have no lasting impact on your reputation with others. But if they succeed in getting you to give up your integrity, you will bring dishonor to the name of our Lord, and you will have lost your good name—and you can never gain that back.

Be like Joseph and Daniel. Work hard for your employer, but stay true to God’s standards of righteousness in everything you do, and trust Him to vindicate you when things go wrong. You will reap the benefits of a clean conscience, and an honorable reputation with God and men.

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