Can You Live With Yourself?
In the Nuview public school district of southern California a spelling bee was heating up. After months of preparation, the competition was down to two children, Paul and Sarah. The young girl, Sarah, had just spelled her word incorrectly. If Paul was able to spell his word without fault, he would become the spelling bee champion.
Spelling bee competitions are filled with anxiety for children and their parents. It is a high-stress contest that reveals more than spelling ability—it can often reveal a person’s character. On January 20 the integrity of a little boy would shine throughout the entire school district.
Paul stepped forward to receive his new word, “d-e-m-o-c-r-a-c-y.” He misspelled it. However, the judges of the competition did not catch Paul’s error. They immediately announced him as the winner.
Within a few minutes both Paul and his mother told the judges of his error, that he had indeed misspelled the word.
When was the last time you saw someone admitting his or her failure? This act of self-denial is seldom witnessed. We live in an age in which our own leaders refuse to admit fault or to ask for forgiveness.
Integrity can be easily confused with living a morally acceptable life, because society has a very low threshold on what is acceptable. Integrity is more than what people see. True integrity—that is, your hidden self—can be seen only by you and God. Are you living your life for others to see? Or do you live a life of integrity because it matters to you?
I would venture to guess that integrity meant more to Paul, the spelling bee competitor, than winning.
In Paul’s case, the judges decided to go another round and give both Paul and Sarah another chance. Paul won. This time he could live with himself.
—Rajkumar Dixit is associate pastor of New Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fulton, Maryland, and author of Branded Faith.