Integrity still matters a great deal, even in a culture that seems to be saying it does not.
Yesterday the news stations and internet sites (ESPN, CNN) all rushed to report the news of the firing of Jim Tressel, the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. I know not all of you are football fans, or sports fans for that matter, but this was a story that made mainstream news because of the gravity of it. Jim Tressel has been one of college football's most winning coaches in his time at OSU. He has dominated his conference and won a National Championship. The reason for Tressel's resignation/firing was because of his lying to his university and NCAA investigators about his knowledge of recent scandals and infractions involving his players. His players had been violating NCAA rules by selling their memorabilia from games and awards. The OSU players were also receiving illegal benefits from businesses and school donors. Tressel was aware of all of this, and had been for some time, but lied about it. He lied to his athletic director, the school president, and NCAA investigators. For months now the facts have been surfacing and Tressel's reputation has been declining. Yesterday it all came to an end and Tressel resigned. The great run of this coach over, his legacy tarnished.
Rather than getting into the details and facts of NCAA rules and the rights of players to collect benefits for their services, I want to ask a simple questions: what did Tressel's lack of integrity cost him?
We know for a fact that his lack of integrity cost him his job. We know for a fact that his lack of integrity cost him a lot of money. These things are evident. But here is a question for you:
What did Tressel's lack of integrity cost him as a father? grandfather? husband? son? role-model? friend?
The fallout from missing integrity goes far beyond what ESPN, CNN, and others will ever report. Eventually the story will die down, but there is still fallout that will take place. Rather than using these opportunities to tear down people, coaches, athletics, or things like these, we should use these opportunities to evaluate our own lives. We may not operate under the bright lights that Tressel lived under, but integrity is no less important.
If you are a father or mother, husband or wife, your integrity matters a great deal because there are people watching and learning from you. If you are a Christian, integrity matters a great deal, because non-believers look at your life and measure it to your words.
I am challenged by the Jim Tressel story to not overlook what takes place when nobody is looking. These moments in secret will eventually be made public. Our integrity is about making sure that what people see on the outside is true of what is going on inside. Our integrity is about making sure that what is seen in public matches what takes place in private. We must be people of integrity.
Why do you believe integrity is so important? What are the biggest struggles you have as a Christian with integrity?