"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I've been called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might have everlasting life." 3 Nephi 5:13

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Farewell Talk

 Honesty and Integrity

Honesty has many words that describe it. I looked up “Honesty” on Urban Dictionary and one of the definitions read: a moral/philosophical quality that you can't buy at the local Walmart. Though this is true, it’s not exactly the definition I had in mind. When I think of honesty, I think of being sincere, being truthful and not being deceitful no matter what the consequences. There are many people in this world that do not know the difference between right and wrong, or the importance of honesty. The beginning of the 13th article of faith reads:

 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.

 Our honesty is tested daily.  Sometimes we may find that is easier to tell a “white lie” than to tell the true because we are afraid of the repercussion. However, it is important to remember that when we tell white lies, we progressively become colorblind and immune to telling the truth.

When you are honest in every way, you are able to have a sense of peace and maintain a level of self-respect. You build strength of character which allows you to be of service to the Lord and to others. For The Strength of Youth reminds us that dishonesty harms you and harms others as well. If you lie, steal, shoplift, or cheat, you damage your spirit and your relationships with others. Being honest will enhance your future opportunities and your ability to be guided by the Holy Ghost. Be honest at school; choose not to cheat in any way. Be honest in your job, giving a full amount of work for your pay. Do not rationalize that being dishonest is acceptable, even though others may think it does not matter. An example of integrity is Ted William’s story. 

Ted Williams was closing out his career with the Boston Red Sox. He was suffering from a pinched nerve in his neck that season. Williams explained that the thing was so bad that he could hardly turn his head to look at the pitcher. For the first time in his career he batted under .300, hitting just .254 with 10 home runs. He was the highest salaried player in sports, making $125,000. The next year, the Red Sox sent him the same contract. When he got the contract, Williams sent it back with a note saying that he would not sign it until they gave him the full pay cut allowed. He was always treated fairly by the Red Sox when it came to contracts, Now they were offering he a contract He didn’t deserve. And he only wanted what he deserved. Williams cut his own salary by 25 percent, raised his batting average by 62 points and closed out a brilliant career by hitting a home run in his final at bat.  Integrity is knowing the difference between what you have to do and knowing what the right thing to do Is, whether someone is watching or not. Proverbs 19:1 reads “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”  President Kimball taught us that "Integrity is one of the cornerstones of character . . . No virtues in the perfection we strive for are more important than integrity and honesty. Let us then be complete, unbroken, pure, and sincere, to develop in ourselves that quality of soul we prize so highly in others.”

There are different aspects of honesty; being honest with the Lord, being honest with others and being honest with ourselves. We can be honest with the Lord by paying a full tithe or other offerings, by being worthy to partake of the sacrament, by fulfilling our church assignments, and by keeping our promises with the Lord. One of the most important indicators of how honestly invested we are is how serious we keep the agreements we have made. A story by Elder Keith W. Wilcox reads: ““During my second college year on December 7, 1941, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor. … I decided to join the Navy with the object of becoming a naval officer. An entire day was spent in the Naval Recruiting Office filling out forms for consideration. One of the last questions on the naval physical fitness questionnaire … asked whether I had ever had ‘hay fever.’ I remember staring at this question for a long time. … It was evident that my answer could affect my being accepted or rejected as a candidate for officer consideration. The simple truth was that I had experienced hay fever all of my life and sneezed very often. It would be so easy to mark no to this question since it would probably never come up again. However, marking no would be dishonest. It was a little thing, and yet a principle was at stake. With reluctance, I marked the space for yes and handed the paper back. The medical officer, upon seeing my answer, looked up and exclaimed, ‘Don’t you know that naval officers can’t have hay fever? You will have to take a special allergy test.’ The test showed that I suffered a considerable number of allergies. [The officer] then took my application forms, calmly tore them up, and threw them into a wastebasket. I … asked, ‘What shall I do now?’ The officer calmly replied that the ‘draft’ would take care of me and not to worry. Sick at heart, I went back to school, transferring to the University of Utah. … My graduation with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering occurred in December of 1943, two years following Pearl Harbor. The day following my graduation, I again presented myself to the naval  office … and indicated that I had just graduated [in] mechanical engineering … and showed them my degree. When they learned I was interested in becoming a naval officer, I experienced ‘red carpet’ treatment. … A direct commission as an ensign was offered that day. I told the officer … , ‘Sir, I suffer severe hay fever. What do you think of that?’ The officer laughed. He said that at one time it was a consideration, but not anymore. The ship to which I was later assigned … was the USS LSM 558. It was our understanding that this ship was destined for the invasion of Japan. … Instead, we were given orders to patrol on the Atlantic Coast from Boston to Florida. In August of 1985, [Sister Wilcox and I] toured … the great war memorial in Manila dedicated to those from our country who had given their lives during World War II. … Our experiences at the Manila war memorial reminded us of many personal friends who joined the services in the first years of that war and who did not return. Had I become a part of those early engagements, the possibility of losing my life would have been very great. Had I been willing to tell an untruth concerning my hay fever, I would have been immediately sent into the first bitter battles where so many had lost their lives. Looking back to that eventful day, I realized that I survived one of the greatest tests of my life in telling the truth about my hay fever. … There had been a great temptation to tell a ‘little lie,’ but the counsel my father had given me … had served me well.'" Elder Wilcox was blessed for being honest. The rejection from the navy saved him from the possibility of losing his life, like many of his personal friends had in those first years of war. We may find that honest does not bring immediate blessings. Sometimes we may even suffer from being honest. We must trust in the Lord, and he will bless us for being honest.

Sometimes, it is harder to be honest with yourself than with others. Especially when you feel like no one will know, so you have no one to be accountable to. However, this is not true. The Lord knows. It is important to be honest with ourselves because it preserves our integrity and self-worth. At times, we may unknowingly effect others with our honesty. Elder Spencer W. Kimball told a story that read: “On the train from New York to Baltimore we sat in the dining car opposite a businessman and commented, ‘It seldom rains like this in Salt Lake City. The conversation soon led naturally into the golden question: ‘How much do you know about the Church?’ I know little about the Church,’ he said, ‘but I know one of its people.’ He was developing subdivisions in New York. ‘There is a sub-contractor working for me,’ he continued. ‘He is so honest and full of integrity that I never ask him to bid on a job. He is the soul of honor. If the Mormon people are like this man, I’d like to know about a church that produces such honorable men.’ We were able to leave him with a Book of Mormon and sent the missionaries to teach him.” The man in the story had a desire to investigate the Church because of how honest one of his workers was. Many times our honest actions influence others. Often honesty is easy to practice, but sometimes we may think dishonesty would be easier. However, honesty always brings blessings.

Honesty is tied to the principals of the restored truth.  Everything we do should be tied to the principles of restored truth and I have found that as I strive to be honest the Lord has helped me become more Christ-like and has helped me prepare to become an instrument in his hands. I know that if I am honest in my daily doings that I will have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion who will guide and comfort me. I know that as we can develop a love for integrity through daily prayer and scripture study, for I have found this for myself. Of these things I testify, in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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